Our mid-winter selection of shorebirds is small. Other than Purple Sandpipers they are scarce as the proverbial hen's teeth.
However, in the wake of the last storm, some dozen or more Killdeer have showed up on Newfoundland, over a fairly small region. This has happened before under similar conditions.
With that in mind, favorite shorebird locations in the Maritimes might just be worth a few minutes of close scrutiny. Who knows what the wind blew in?
Good point! A few years back, I seem to recall Lapwings and a species of Golden Plover showing up in the Maritimes after a similar event? Perhaps someone can fill in the gaps in my memory.
Not a shorebird, but a dovekie ended up in a birders backyard under his display of feeders post storm down the gaspe coast on the 5th of January. A nice yard bird to add ;)
Definitely not on most Yard Bird lists, Andrew.
Dovekies are to a Nemesis for a lot of birders in our region, yet they seem to show up, grounded at inland locations, on a fairly frequent basis.
Sometimes there are multiple birds, at multiple locations, related to a specific weather event.
Do you think, given their slight body type with short wings makes them more susceptible to strong winds, storm surge etc. or is it related to visibility or maybe a combination of the two? Have you seen many on machias island?
We very rarely see a Dovekie around Machias Seal Island. Perhaps if one were to spend a lot of time scoping the water then more would be evident but Dovekies and Thick Billed Murres are wildly outnumbered by other Alcids.
Reports of Dovekie and other seabird groundings generally seem to be associated with strong, on-shore winds and/or poor visibility.
It appears fairly likely that at least some birds mistake wet, man-made surfaces for water but that begs the question: why were they flying over the inland locations in the first place?
The other aspect of these stranding is our perception that grounded seabirds can not take flight from land. To me, that's just wrong.
It can be difficult to get airborne but it's not impossible if the birds can find the same conditions on land as they need on water: a fairly open, unobstructed "runway" area and calm air or a bit of a head wind.
I've watched a couple of Common Loons and numerous Shearwaters lift off our lawns.
Thanks for your informative response Ralph. You must feel lucky and privileged to be able to study and observe bird habits in such a unique environment.
Jan.13/17: There surely will be a good possibility of something being blown in with the south wind we're experiencing. Wind to remain high and change to sou'west.