A Rare Asian Visitor

[Featured image: A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, photographed by the author in the Los Angeles River just south of the Willow Street bridge on November 14, 2016. Behind it and to the left is a Black-necked Stilt. In the front are American Coots.]

I got my first new life bird in quite awhile today: a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, which was discovered in the Los Angeles River in the vicinity of the Willow Street bridge on November 11, 2016. The bird has remained for several days in the same general location, and I decided to head over there myself after the first verification of its presence today was made online. Finding the bird myself was easy, as such a rare bird drew a large number of birders to the location. I didn’t have to search the large shorebird flocks that were present, as another birder who was already watching it offered to point my spotting scope to the bird. I shot 50 or so photos, which were distant but clear. It was noted by another authoritative observer that this is probably the first well-documented occurrence of this species in Los Angeles County in 34 years. The species  normally breeds in northeast Asia and winters in southeast Asia and Australasia.

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was located on one of the small “islands” on the right side of the photo. Thousands of other birds were also present, including a living “island” comprised of several hundred dowitchers, visible to the left. Numerous waterfowl and other shorebirds were scattered throughout.

Want to learn more about shorebirds?

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