TWO Solitary Sandpipers at Atascadero Lake!

Kevin Zimmer

Just returned late last night (Tuesday, 12/11) from Texas and headed over to Atascadero Lake this morning in advance of the rain to try and find the Solitary Sandpiper reported earlier. I found it right where Ross Schaefer saw it yesterday -- in the muddy area at the southwest corner of the island (straight out from the outflow area and the small footbridge along the walking path.

As Roger Zachary had postulated, this is a very late date for this species, the first southbound migrants of which start showing up in the Amazon in August! In fact, it is so late, that I can't help but wonder if it is a lingering bird that showed up much earlier in the fall, and has just been overlooked to this point.

Given all of this, imagine my surprise when I found a second Solitary Sandpiper at Atascadero Lake this morning! The second bird is keeping mostly to the very narrow arm of water along the eastern edge of the island, but it occasionally comes into contact with the bird at the southwest corner. The two do not get along! Each time I saw them come in contact, there was plenty of aggression (jumping into the air, facing off, crouching) and vocalization, which usually resulted in each bird fanning its tail and cocking it at an oblique angle while showing off the dark-barred, white outer feathers. One individual (the southwest corner bird) is more uniformly speckled with white than the other, which is more obviously in molt. I got bunches of photos (light was pretty miserable), and the birds were still there when I left at about 1100 h.

Kevin Zimmer

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