Eric and I came across a large flock of Whimbrel on Salmon Creek Beach tonight. In fact, it was the largest number of Whimbrel I've seen since moving here in 2005.
I didn't manage to photograph all of them in one picture. However, I came relatively close, documenting about 2/3 of them. If you'd like to count yourself, here's one picture with a good number of Whimbrel. You can click on the picture for a larger version. (I'll reveal the count below the image.)
There are 42 Whimbrel in the picture above. There's one "trick" bird that you have to ignore — a Marbled Godwit, about 5 birds in from the left side (feeding in the wet sand). I counted 20 more Whimbrel in addition to the individuals in this image, for a total of 62 birds tonight.
I wondered how this number compared to other high counts in Sonoma County. Below I've listed the top five high counts for Whimbrel as recorded in the Birds of Sonoma County California:
- 100 on 4/29/89 at a wet field near Petaluma
- 88 on 5/3/03 at a pond near Carmody Road
- 50+ on 7/5/81 at Bodega Harbor
- 50+ on 4/24/99 at the Bodega Farm Pond
You can see that the 62 birds we documented tonight is a fairly high count for the County.
There have been an abundance of Mole Crabs on Salmon Creek Beach this year, and I'm guessing the number of birds frequenting the area might be related to this food source. (We saw at least two Whimbrel catch Mole Crabs while we were there.)