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Long-billed Curlew

Posted by birder on Tuesday, July 24, 2012
On Saturday July 22, I went out to Blackie Spit in Surrey. My target bird was the Long-billed Curlew that comes back there every year.

I arrived at the spit in the morning, and as I set up my equipment I wondered how easy it would be this year to find the curlew. The previous year I had walked out of the parking lot, and there he was- it took me 30 seconds to find him. This year was different however. When I looked at the beach closest to the parking lot, there was no curlew.

It was an hour before I found the bird. I searched in the starting and stopping rain showers, and found no curlew but also not any other birds of interest except for many Caspian Terns (click on the link to see a photo of one of them). I walked some more, and then, out on a mudflat some movement caught my eye. It was the Long-billed Curlew! Unfortunately though, it was very far away, but as I watched him and he eventually came to a better spot for photos, and I took this photo of him stretching his wings.

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The curlew rested in the same spot for a while but eventually moved back out to the mudflats. I watched him for a while longer and then saw a Bald Eagle eating some meat it caught in the distance. Not long after I spotted the eagle, the bird took off and flew right over the mudflat that the curlew was feeding on. The curlew as well as some gulls and crows all took off. The curlew flew right past me towards a different beach. I was pretty sure I knew where the curlew had landed so I went to see if I could find him. Now, the curlew was in a spot where I could get good photos much more easily. I took many shots, and here are two of them:

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I was with the bird a while longer, but then I left the bird to feeding took a walk around in other spots of Blackie Spit. I noted two other species of shorebirds, 2 Greater Yellowlegs and 9 Killdeer. Other birds that I saw included many Purple Martin, House Finches, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, and a recently fledged Cedar Waxwing. Among them, the waxwing posed the best for photos. Here are two photos of the waxwing:

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Soon after photographing the Cedar Waxwing I returned to the Long-billed Curlew. The bird was still in it's spot, feeding. It had caught a large meal, but two gulls saw the curlew with the meal. They flew towards him. The curlew dropped his catch and dodged out of the way of the gulls. In the second photo you can see the gull who got the curlew's catch behind the curlew.

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It was now time for me to leave, but I had found my target bird for the day: a Long-billed Curlew!



 

 

 

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