Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rare Birds Seen At Bosque

By John Bertrand
Friends of the Bosque

Two weekends ago (on May 1 and 2), a flutter of rare bird sightings at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge had local birders all atwitter. Most notable among the rarities were the Elegant Tern, sighted May 2 and recorded on the Bird Alert Hotline by Nancy Hedrick and Bill West, and a female Ruff, sighted May 1 by Christopher Rustay.
Neither of these rarities has been sighted again since Monday, May 3. Not to worry, though…you still can view in its stead at Bosque del Apache some Forster’s Terns which are regular visitors there.Forster’s are just as ‘elegant’ as the Elegant Tern. Perhaps as few as one in five-hundred folks who spend time enjoying birds could tell the two species apart.
And on your visit before the end of May, you may spot some Spotted Sandpipers, Black-legged Stilts, American Avocets, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs and Wilson’s Phalaropes…among the phalanx of shorebirds which pass through Bosque del Apache on their northward migration in April and May.
While ‘really serious birders’ get their kicks from adding a new bird to their personal ‘life list’ (or the ultimate thrill of spotting a bird species which has never been reported before in a particular geographic area), there’s much enjoyment to be had from watching the annual spring renewal of old friends passing through.
Now back to those rare sightings May 1, 2: The most recent previous verified sighting of the Elegant Tern in New Mexico was in the Farmington Area in 2001. The Ruff, a shorebird, was last sighted in Socorro County at Bosque del Apache on April 29, 1994. It was more recently sighted in Colfax County in 2005. The normal range of the Elegant Tern is off the Pacific Coast and in Baja, Mexico.
According to local birder Jerry Oldenettel, the Tern sighting is a second state record, and there have been less than ten verified Ruff sightings in New Mexico. Oldenettel is the holder of the all-time record of bird species sightings in New Mexico in a single calendar year.
According to Oldenettel, other unusual sightings at Bosque in recent days include the Clapper Rail, spotted May 3…a repeat of its first New Mexico appearance a year ago; a Ruddy Turnstone, which averages about one appearance in the state per year, and the Whimbrel, which averages two or three yearly sightings in New Mexico.
An unusual weather pattern in the Gulf and Southwest regions may account for the weekend flutter. However, many species of shorebirds and songbirds are seen regularly at Bosque during the April/May migration season. A total of 107 species was recorded on Bosque in the annual International Migratory Bird Day Count conducted last Saturday, May 9.

Forster's Tern photo courtesy of Jerry Oldenettel

No comments:

Post a Comment