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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Early Fall Sandpipers at Colyer Lake

Baird's Sandpiper
Photo Credit: Brilliant Student

It's early fall, so sandpipers are on the move - heading south for the winter. While most people associate sandpipers with the beach or coastal mudflats, sandpipers and other waders do show up inland in pretty good numbers.

In southern Centre County, many lakes are below their spring water levels as the summer wanes. This exposes mudflats that are good feeding habitats for sandpipers. There are several spots in the vicinity of State College that are particularly good: Colyer Lake (just off of Rt. 322), Julian Wetlands (on Old Rt. 220), & Bald Eagle State Park (Howard, PA).

Pectoral Sandpiper
Photo Credit: The Bird Guide

This year, Colyer has been very productive. During one week in early September, I observed eight species of sandpiper and one plover. The full list follows.

The highlights were the Pectoral & Baird's Sandpipers. The Baird's Sandpiper was especially interesting. This bird nests up in arctic tundra and migrates through the Great Plains. It is pretty uncommon along either coast. Up until this year, I have never seen one. This year, I have seen it twice. The first one was reported by Greg Grove on the beach at Bald Eagle SP. The one I spotted at Colyer was the second one.

Sightings at Colyer Lake, September 2010

Spotted Sandpiper
Solitary Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper

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