Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wilson’s Plover, Scoters and eBird

In the United States, Wilson’s Plovers are restricted to the Gulf and Southeastern Atlantic coasts. This shorebird winters from Central into South America. Beach development and disturbance are the main threats to this species. Last April, when I listed a pair on the beach at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, eBird demanded confirmation. Fortunately, I had this photo, clearly showing the single breast band and stocky black bill. Alexander Wilson did not have eBird when he collected the first specimen of this plover in 1813 at Cape May, New Jersey, where they were rare even then.

The eBird app often alerts me to the need for such documentation, which is handy if you are traveling in unfamiliar territory. Later in our journey, in South Carolina, I reported Black and White-winged scoters. These ducks were also flagged by eBird. Thus knowing they were rare, I took the photos below, even though the birds were quite distant. Despite the poor quality of the images, I was able to document my observations in my eBird list. (The duck with the white wing patches is the White-winged Scoter; the bird in the last photo with the dark crown and paler cheeks is a Black Scoter.)

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