Friday afternoon I posted that I was off to chase the Wood Sandpiper being seen in Delaware. I got picked up at my house around 11am and by about 1:30pm we were driving down Broadkill Road, looking for a swarm of cars. When we pulled in, people seemed to be milling around, not really looking at anything in particular. This was not a good sign. The first birder we talked to told us the bird had last been seen about 10 minutes ago. It had taken off and the birders present hadn’t been able to see where it flew and had not been relocated yet. Being only the second east coast record, this was easily the ‘best’ bird I have ever chased and I felt a sinking feeling in my stomache when I heard this.
As we dejectedly pulled out our scopes from the trunk we happened to see a bird flying past the passengers side of the car and land on the shore right up the road. The white rump, a characteristic of Wood Sandpiper, had been obvious and looking at the bird it quickly became obvious that it was the Wood Sandpiper.
Wood Sandpiper- 5/9/2008
The Wood Sandpiper was quite cooperative, foraging along the near shoreline so at times it was only about 30 feet away. One interesting thing that we noticed was that it bobbed its rear end, Spotted Sandpiper-style, pretty much non-stop. It worked its way up the shore at one end of the road with a contingent of birders in pursuit, and then would fly to the other end of the road. This happened several times and I finally wised up and instead of chasing it, I stayed put. I figured if it came back this way, I might be the only one around and get really close looks.
And that is exactly what happened. It flew back and landed almost right in front of me, allowing me to get great unobstructed views.
The Wood Sandpiper seemed to be a mix between a Solitary Sandpiper and a Lesser Yellowlegs. At first, I thought there was no way that I would look at this thing and be able to pick it out as something different. But then I realized that it was different enough from each of these similar species that if I looked in a book, I would know it was different.
There were lots of other birds flying around; Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitchers, yellowlegs and various peeps. This kept me occupied during the brief periods when the Wood Sandpiper was hiding.
The Wood Sandpiper is still being seen as of May 11th, 2008. Check the Delaware listserv for more up-to-date sightings.