Sharp-tailed Lifer


Panorama of my view of the flats


[dc]T[/dc]his morning I read of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper that was found at Irondequoit Bay near Rochester NY. After a well-timed text from Tom Johnson who told me it was probably legit, I hit the road in hopes of seeing a lifer. It’s been a long time since I was on a true chase, usually too far away from any bird I wanted to see to  consider chasing it. So off I headed to Irondequoit Bay….

Now, being that I had never been to this spot, I didn’t bring anything special. This was a mistake as the best vantage to view the mud flats was out on another muddy flat. Luckily I was able to find a spot to perch at the edge of the muck on some fallen logs and phragmites and keep my feet clean. It didn’t take long to find the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper foraging with the Pectoral Sandpipers since it was in juvenile plumage and its red cap and reddish-orange breast stuck out compared to the Pecs.


Screen grab from video taken with iPhone 4S through Zeiss Diascope 85 T*FL

I managed to get some really great looks as it strolled back and forth on the mud flat. At one point it flushed with all the other shorebirds and I soon refound it much closer which allowed me to get some video. It was too far to get any decent iPhone-scoped shots but I have found that video can often come through in tough conditions. The video isn’t great but you can definitely see a difference in coloration between it and the surrounding Pecs. When the sun was shining at its brightest, the red cap and orange-red chest were very easy to pick out.


For anyone going for this bird tomorrow, I highly recommend some boots so you can walk out further than I did for a better look. I was lucky that the bird was always in view from the spot I managed to look from.