Short-billed Dowitcher from http://www.nrdc.org/
Pied-billed Grebe photo by Bob Stanowski
Little Pond has produced again! As usual, it is notable birds. August is one of the best months to look for this group of animals at this place. On Thursday morning, 8/4/11, Mike Doyle spotted a Glossy Ibis at the south end of the Pond, near Sutton's Bridge. This may only be the 4th record for this coastal species on WMF property. It is a bird that is prone to wandering after the breeding season, and August is when most of this wandering to inland locales occurs. I went out to Little Pond to look for this bird about 4 hours after Mike reported it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it; and I presume that it had already moved on. However, in my search of the west side of the Pond for it, I turned up a Pied-billed Grebe with a flightless young one following it. We had seen this species sporadically here since April, and had heard it calling a few times in early May, but had given up hope of any breeding activity here this year. They did successfully nest here in 2002 and at Cemetery Pond in 2007. It is a species that is prone to nest late in the season, after water levels recede from spring flooding, so we shouldn't have given up hope for them as soon as we did. This young bird proves that. Virginia Rails will also nest late in the season, especially if they fail in their first attempts. On our visit on the evening of 8/8/11 we encountered a total of 10 of these birds along the north side of the pond. One was an adult, 2 were well-grown juveniles, and the others were all uttering fledgling food calls. One of the juveniles even hopped up on the Boardwalk, affording us excellent views of it. A major reason why Jim Kandefer, Marie Kennedy, and I went out there that day was to look for the Short-billed Dowitcher, Pectoral Sandpiper, and Semipalmated Plover that Fran Zygmont saw out there on the mud and sand bar Sunday morning, 8/7/11. Unfortunately, water levels had risen about 6" due to heavy rains, so much of the mud was under water, and none of these sought-after shorebirds were present. We did see 4 Killdeer on the remaining portion of the sandbar and 2 flyover Solitary Sandpipers. We also saw 14 Marsh Wrens along the north side of the Boardwalk; many of which were fledglings. That evening's adventure produced a total of 31 species of birds. I tallied a total of 49 species of birds the previous Friday, 8/5/11, after we installed the Purple Martin nest box near Sutton's Bridge. Most of the birds that day were the usual, common residents, plus 3 Green Herons, an adult and fledgling Virginia Rail, 2 singing Alder Flycatchers, 3 Bank Swallows, and 8 migrant Bobolinks. No matter when you go to Little Pond in August, it will yield plenty of birds.