Friday, September 4, 2015

In Search Of Erwin At Bunche Beach: Pt. I

The sky was still very dark when I stepped outdoors to investigate the anticipated cloudcover on the morning of 29 August while considering a trip to Bunche Beach Preserve this day to find Erwin.


The immature Tricolored Heron above (image 1) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

An hour before sunrise, Venus was surprisingly glowing extremely brightly on the low horizon to the east. My thought was that the weather would be perfect for observations at Bunche Beach Preserve as soon as I could get there.


The Bald Eagle above (image 2) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle with Osprey above (image 3) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle above (image 4) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle above (image 5) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Black-bellied Plover above (image 6) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

As the sky brightened it became clear that it would not offer great light to start to the day as I had hoped. As I had not been to Bunche Beach Preserve in over eight months, the visit would be enjoyable no matter the circumstances.


The Sanderling above (image 7) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Little Blue Heron above (image 8) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Short-billed Dowitcher above (image 9) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


William R. Cox above (image 10) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Short-billed Dowitcher above (image 11) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

The first birds seen on the beach were Short-billed Dowitcher. Shorebird migration had begun weeks earlier, so the numbers of birds seen at first glance was impressive. An overflight of a Bald Eagle at sunrise caused virtually every loafing or feeding bird to take flight. Most returned to about where they were.


The Roseate Spoonbill above (image 12) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Roseate Spoonbill above (image 13) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Willet above (image 14) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Roseate Spoonbill above (image 15) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 16) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

A second Bald Eagle would make a landing on the flats on the east side of the west channel with the eagles about 50 yards from one another. Both went to flight when a daring Osprey seemingly took offense to their presence.


The Black Skimmer above (image 17) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bank Swallow above (image 18) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Roseate Spoonbill with White Ibis above (image 19) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Wilson's Plover above (image 20) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Least Sandpiper above (image 21) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

The primary reason for my visit to Bunch was to relocate Erwin the Piping Plover. Erwin was hatched in Nebraska in June 2011. There are some folks up there with a PBS affiliate that are doing a story of the Piping Plovers and interior Least Terns from the Platte Basin.


The Wilson's Plover above (image 22) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Laughing Gull above (image 23) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Little Blue Heron above (image 24) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Little Blue Heron above (image 25) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The juvenile Little Blue Heron above (image 25) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

Erwin is their "main character" highlighting conservation efforts. I have been told that Erwin laid five eggs this summer, and all successfully hatched (a very prodigious bird). The majority of Piping Plovers we see here along our Florida shores are certainly from the central and upper Midwest United States range into Canada.


The Semipalmated Plover above (image 26) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Black-bellied Plover above (image 27) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Roseate Spoonbill above (image 28) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Willet above (image 29) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Willet above (image 30) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

I've received two notifications from David Yarnold at NAS advising that only two Piping Plover fledged this summer from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The birds at their breeding grounds appear similarly challenged in the northeast.


The Marbled Godwit above (image 31) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Marbled Godwit above (image 32) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Marbled Godwit above (image 33) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Red Knot above (image 34) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Laughing Gull above (image 35) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

Erwin has been visiting Bunche Beach Preserve since her first annual migration south from the breeding grounds. I am intrigued with the thought of how Erwin found Bunche Beach which may have been taught or was possibly inherent.


The Marbled Godwit above (image 36) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 37) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Brown Pelican above (image 38) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Ruddy Turnstone above (image 39) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Marbled Godwit above (image 40) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

Scanning the flats for Erwin was daunting from the few stationary positions I had taken. The Bald Eagle that had settled in the longstanding Osprey nest on the west side of the west channel would occasionally create blast offs of the shorebirds and waders.


The Roseate Spoonbill above (image 41) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle above (image 42) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle pursuing Osprey above (image 43) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle pursuing Osprey above (image 44) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle pursuing Osprey above (image 45) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

A fellow wildlife observer with camera gear was observed to make extremely methodical steps to avoid disturbing the birds. With good fortune I was able to meet William R. Cox.


The Bald Eagle pursuing Osprey above (image 46) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle pursuing Osprey above (image 47) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle pursuing Osprey above (image 48) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle pursuing Osprey above (image 49) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle pursuing Osprey above (image 50) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

Bill is a wildlife ecologist who, among other things, writes wildlife articles for Times of the Islands magazine. As we were talking, another spat between one of the eagles and an Osprey ensued.


The Sandwich Tern above (image 51) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Sanderling above (image 52) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Western Sandpiper above (image 53) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.


The Bald Eagle's nest above (image 54) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

Upon leaving Bunche Beach Preserve this day with the flats inundated by the rising tide I had not found Erwin while a handful of Short-billed Dowitcher, a lone Laughing Gull, and a pair of Bald Eagles in a nest remained at the west channel.


The Barn Swallow above (image 55) was photographed at Bunche Beach Preserve in August 2015.

Please also see In Search Of Erwin At Bunche Beach: Pt. II

4 comments:

  1. Good work in highlighting the perils faced by our shorebirds, Bob. As you point out, Piping Plovers are threatened by human and pet disturbance where they nest.

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    1. Thank you, Hemant. Nesting shorebirds have so much going against them. In my research on Erwin I watched a short video. Erwin's nest scrape was enclosed in a "cage" similar to that you would see over a turtle nest which allowed Erwin to freely move about, while certainly offering an additional degree of protection from predatory birds and mammals. It was interesting to see Erwin leave the nest for more than 20 seconds to discard a shell fragment from a hatchling.

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  2. Hello Bob,
    Very nice images! love the pics from the Bald eagle and the Osprey. And so funny photo 9, 19, 32, 33, 39 and 40. they are cute ;-))
    greetings,
    Maria

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    1. Thank you, Maria. I'm glad you found enjoyment.

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