New State bird on the drive home

This afternoon, I was driving home from New Jersey after completing the hawk counting season. It was a pleasant day but I didn’t see much bird-wise for most of the trip. It was pretty ordinary in fact until I turned on to Schantz Rd southwest of Allentown. I spotted a plowed field off to the right that was sporting a large (1/2 acre maybe?) flooded area. Straining my eyes as I slowed down I could see birds moving out in the water and one really seemed to stick out. Slamming on the breaks and swerving to the shoulder in the safest manner possible, I slung by binoculars to my eyes, fully expecting to see the graceful foraging of a Greater Yellowlegs. What I had seen as I was driving was white flashes above the water as a shorebird dipped into the water, but what really stood out was how high above the water the white flashes were.

Binoculars now up to my eyes, I focused….and bam, not a yellowlegs, but a gorgeous black and white bird. A Black-necked Stilt! No wonder the flashes had been so high. I managed to get a few record shots of the bird as it foraged and a video which you can watch once it has been processed by Youtube. I shot of some quick phone calls and then continued to watch the bird as it foraged back and forth over the same little flooded area. It gave me a fright when a Canada Goose landed nearby and all the Least Sandpipers and Semi-palmated Plovers took to the wing. I would have been sorry to see the stilt leave without giving others a chance to see it. Luckily it stayed and I know at least several people have gotten a chance to see it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to get back to that pond and have a better chance to study it.

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