Friday, October 18, 2013

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

I don't think there is another bird who I've chased more times this year than the Black-necked Stilt. Be it at Otter Lake near Vernon, Robert Lake in Kelowna, Elizabeth Lake in Cranbrook, or Duck lake in Creston, every time one has appeared, I was a day late and a dollar short.

Even when one hot August day a miraculous flock touched down at Brydon Lagoon, they were gone by the time I braved rush hour traffic to reach them. Black-necked Stilts are usually an April-May migrant, and although they have bred a few times in BC, usually by June all reports have dried up much like the ponds they feed in.

So it was a shock when one October evening I see that a Stilt had been reported at, of all places, the White Rock Pier. I was working late so there was no possible way to see it that day. Would this be another miss for the year? The last tease by these long-legged Shorebirds?

My plan was to be there by Sunlight, unfortunately band practice went until 2am that night, so I didn't manage to drag myself from slumber until 8:30 in the morning. I awoke with a text from Rob that indeed the Stilt was still there chilling on the beach.

I was that fortunate traffic was not as bad as expected, I was going against the morning rush hour, thankfully. Within the hour, I was the hurriedly walking the beach path east of the Pier, right toward a decent size flock of long-lensed Photgraphers.

Black-necked Stilt-first record for October in Vancouver

The Stilt was right on the beach, feeding with the resident Willet, of all things. At one point, their paths crossed and they had a matrix style battle for a few seconds. Then, a Bonaparte's Gull flew in to make it a trio of odd birds feeding alongside a beach. A northwestern crow, who was perhaps confused by why all these people were so excited by this bird, decided to spoil the fun by chasing the Stilt around eliciting cries of protest from the Stilt, but giving the Photographers a chance to snap some flight shots.
The resident Willet now has to share the spotlight

Bonaparte's Gull with the Stilt

Knowing his history with this bird, I couldn't resist sending Russ a text telling him "Don't hate me, but I just saw a Black-necked Stilt". He had missed it in his big year and I had believed that I was going to follow along in those footsteps until this shocker of a little bird decided to tempt fate.

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt number 352

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