Shorebird Season!   Those winged warriors that fly thousands of miles have been arriving since late April.  We monitors at Anchor Point beach/Anchor River have been fortunate weather wise with no snow, no rain, and relatively calm winds.  We’ve had both sunshine and overcast days, but overall I’m not complaining.  I’ve been at the beach with the winds howling and blowing up sand.

I missed last year’s monitoring of this site so don’t know how the birds compare this year to last year.  I do know, however, that we saw more birds earlier (more being relative) in the monitoring period, and a lot fewer peeps (primarily Western Sandpipers) and Yellowlegs.  This is worrisome.  However, as Jack likes to say “Timing is Everything”.  Maybe we have missed the shorebird pulses this year.

Fishing season is starting and that attracts a large number of Bald Eagles to the beach in search of unwanted fish parts the fishermen discard.


Anchor Point Beach – the white log in the foreground is displayed prominently in the next photo


This immature female (this bird was huge) sat on the log (featured in the previous photo) and watched as we we walked right by the log. I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to an eagle.


The same Bald Eagle (I believe) later drinking water

On the survey we also observed a juvenile Glaucous Gull.  This gull is notable for its white body, which really stands out amongst the other gulls, especially when it is hanging out with Mew Gulls, which are much smaller than the Glaucous Gull.


Glaucous Gull

But we came for the shorebirds and while there were not a lot in terms of numbers, we did see during session #5 – ten (10) different species of shorebirds.  This site attracts a greater variety of shorebird species than the sites in Homer (Homer Spit and Beluga Slough), however we do not get the same numbers of an individual species as do some of the other sites.


Black-bellied Plover


Dowitcher sp. According to Buzz Scher at this time of year (migration) if you do not hear their call then it is almost impossible to tell the Long-billed and Short-billed Dowitchers apart. Won’t get any argument from me.


Greater Yellowlegs


Greater Yellowlegs along banks of the Anchor River


Machinery used to move boats into the water

During Monitoring Session #6, we once again had 10 different shorebird species found, including several Semi-palmated Sandpipers.  They are not always easy to tell apart from the molting Western Sandpipers.   They were too far away and moving too much for a decent photo.


Western Sandpiper roosting in the sea kelp


Western Sandpipers and Greater Yellowlegs


Greater Yellowlegs at the mouth of the Anchor River


Bald Eagles – called “Trash Birds” by some people.     Scavenger City here at the put-in/take-out boat area.

We even had a lone Surfbird on the beach.  Our next session is scheduled for 16 May 2015.  Only three sessions left.  However, if you want to continue to see shorebirds, the out-bound migration (starting with failed breeders) begins in June and lasts sometimes into October.  July and August are the best months to find returning shorebirds on the beach at Anchor Point/Anchor River.

Until next time,