“There is such a thing as sacred idleness.” ~George MacDonald
So very often, birding is an exercise in meditation. It involves sitting and watching, softening your gaze, remaining in the moment, and seeing what there is to see. Yesterday, as I was driving past Shearness Pool at Bombay Hook, I passed a small pond surrounded by reeds. The pond was full of foraging sandpipers. I stopped and just sat, watching the perpetually busy birds, thinking they were all Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. The longer I looked, the more I realized that there were differences in coloration and markings on the birds. Subtle differences, but differences all the same. What would I see?
That’s when this sandpiper walked into the center of the pond. What was unique about this sandpiper? His back was darker than the surrounding sandpipers, which made him stand out from the crowd. Then, there was that distinctive white eye-ring.
And, what’s that about the legs? Hmm… let’s take a closer look…
Those legs are not the bright yellow of the Yellowlegs, nor are they the bluish legs of the Willet, or the black legs of some of the smaller sandpipers. These legs are greenish.
Put it all together and what do we have? A Solitary Sandpiper, migrating from it’s breeding ground in the taiga of Canada to it’s wintering grounds in Central or South America.
And just for the record, the Solitary Sandpiper is #200 on the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Big Year list. Goal for the year met on August 31. Four months to go. Can we make it to 250? (Yes, I do note the irony that tallying numbers is in direct contrast to the concept of sacred idleness with which we began this post.)