A Very Rare Lifer

In the early morning my dreams were full of birds. I was in a marauding flock of birders searching the canals and side streets of an unknown seaside town for an unnamed rare shorebird. The dream ended before I saw the bird. I looked over at my bedside clock, it was just past 5 AM.

I left by 6:45 on this Saturday morning, in an attempt to make it a two life bird week. My destination was outer Pt. Reyes on the Pacific Plate. There was a very rare plover, that was spending some time with the local snowy plovers on Point Reyes Beach, between North Beach and Abbotts Lagoon. The lesser sand plover (Charadrius mongolus) breeds in Asia and winters in southern Asia, Australia, and Africa. In the fall, a rare few make it to Alaska, and an even smaller number make it down the west coast to California. When I arrived at 8:00 there were already a fair numbers of cars and a few birders heading north with their scopes slung over their shoulders for the 40 minute hike, in sand, to the stretch of beach were the lesser sand plover that been seen on the past few days.

I hit the beach at 8:15, hoping my early morning sand-hike would be fruitful.


Corvidsketcher on route to the very rare sand plover on Pt. Reyes beach, with great viewing light to my back.

30 minutes into my hike I passed a birder returning to North Beach and he told me to follow the other birders and he pointed up shore to the north. On the horizon I could see a group of tripods with around ten birders standing in loose groups. This was indeed a good sign. I approached the group at 8:58 and I scanned the beach to the west, finding many snowies hunkered down in the sand. I was looking for a larger plover with a brownish nape. At 9:00 I spotted a plover that stuck out like a sore thumb, standing next to some bull kelp and to the right, the much smaller snowy plover. Bingo, Lifebird # 505! I watched the bird feeding around the snowy plovers for 20 minutes and then headed south, back to my car. That was well worth the hike.


After adding lesser sand plover to my lifelist, I birded a few other sights in outer Pt. Reyes. In the trees of Drakes Beach I found another tropical kingbird and two palm warblers.

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