Chasing the bird from Mongolia

This weekend, I actually had no work to do – a very rare occurrence. At least, no work I HAD to do before Monday. I’d been planning to take off and do a little birding, it being fall shorebird migration along the coast, and lots of interesting bird reports streaming in. Thursday and Friday, Tweeters – no, not Twitter, Tweeters – the WA bird report list – had reported a Mongolian Plover at Ocean Shores (for purists, that would be the Lesser Sand Plover). This would be the first state record of this rare bird from Asia. So, Saturday I headed out there, along with most of Tweeterdom and eminent birders from several states around.

We all headed for Oyehut Game Reserve, where it had been seen, and set up our positions around the marshy tideflats – a ring of cameras, scopes, and binoculars. Some people were clearly in it for the long haul, with sand chairs and coolers. As the day went by, more and more birders showed up, waiting for high tide, when the best chance of seeing the bird would arrive. Meanwhile, we entertained ourselves by thoroughly identifying the hundreds of tiny shorebirds that were already there – “midbies” like myself greatly benefiting from the expert knowledge arrayed around the reserve, as shorebirds are not easy at the best of times.

Many folks took short lunch breaks to go off to Damon Point to find the King Eider that had been hanging around for months, but which was a lifer for many of us, or to view the many other great seabirds, mammals, and whales off of the jetty. We were all back by 2 pm, as the shorebirds began to stream in by the hundreds, and hopeful excitement rose with each flock. A few new species appeared, but not, alas, our Mongolian friend, who had apparently deserted this particular tideflat for one of the many other enticing beaches …. who knows where.

It was nevertheless a very fun day, with lots of good birds (including several life birds for me) – pretty much a social event for a bunch of birders who see each other mostly at these times. Sunday, it was not in evidence either, so I headed off to the Jetty and a few other well-known birding areas around Grays Harbor to fill out my list, then headed home. While entering my sightings (yes, I have a bird database!), I found that I have already seen the Mongolian Plover in Hawaii, a location that is presumably much more likely to have strays from Asia than here. Whatever was left of my regret at not seeing the bird was erased by this discovery – I much prefer to see birds where they’re supposed to be, anyway – when I can.

Hey, we’re all bird nerds – what can I say :)


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