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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To the tundra!

Beautiful views of two shorebirds at Van Damme State Park (just south of Mendocino, CA) on 9 May 2012.  Both are on their way to the Subarctic and Arctic tundra for the breeding season.

 Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Note the slightly decurved bill, the rufous coloration on the cap and back, the black belly (barely visible in these photos, but distinctive).  Dunlin used to be called "Red-backed Sandpipers".

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)

Red-necked Phalaropes are one of the smallest seabirds (~18-20 cm long).  They spend approximately 9 months at sea, wintering in the Humboldt Current off Peru and Ecuador.

During the spring migration they can be seen on shore after windy conditions.  This individual was swimming, bathing, and feeding in tidepools and surge channels.

Note the amphipod being held at the tip of the bill.

Phalarope means "coot-footed."  It's a reference to their lobed toes (see photo below).

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