Olmsted’s original plan for the Emerald Necklace was to extend it from Franklin Park to the coast, probably near Castle Island and Pleasure Bay in South Boston. I went there today because a friend had posted on BostonBirds that he has seen some late fall shorebirds on the rocks along the causeway that separates Pleasure Bay from the Boston Harbor. It is always windy along the coast, but today was especially so; I had to hold onto my hat most of the time. I walked along the causeway toward “Mother’s Rest”, checking the rocks on both sides for these little guys that collect at high tide when the nearby exposed sandy beaches are covered. I first spotted three Ruddy Turnstones sunning themselves on the less windy ocean side:
I ran into another birder coming from the opposite direction and we compared notes. She had seen some waterfowl but no shorebirds, so I told her where to look for the Turnstones. As I moved on I glanced at the rocks on the windier bay side and Bingo:
The birds kept moving about, making an exact count difficult, but I estimated over 100. I called out to my new birding colleague and she came back to admire the group. After a bit I proceeded along the path, seeing nothing but several “rafts” of Common Eiders bouncing in the ocean waves.
These salt water loving ducks can be seen year around in Boston Harbor, but are much more plentiful in the winter.
When I returned to the area where the Dunlins had been spotted the other birder had been studying the group and had noticed two other species admixed w the Dunlins. Can you spot them?
Here is a closeup of a few Dunlins:
And here are a couple of close-ups of the least common species present, Purple Sandpiper:
And here is an image of a Dunlin alongside of a Ruddy Turnstone:
All of these three species of shorebirds can be seen in the fall in Massachusetts. They are not displaying their breeding finery, as they all breed far north of us in Alaska, Northern Canada, Hudson Bay and even Greenland. The usual experience of seeing these birds is from a considerable distance as they forage along the sandy shore, or as flocks in flight:
Because it is hard to get photos of these shorebirds up close, I thought this little “clinic” on them and their identification was worth posting. Here is the answer to the quiz posted above:
I have one more walk scheduled for 2016, Sunday December 11th. I’ll begin the new year in the Arboretum on Sunday January 8th. See the end of my last post for details and directions.