Lifer LITTLE STINT and Vancouver SNOWY PLOVER! What a day!

Today I got my lifer Little Stint! Let me back up here...on August 31st, Kevin Louth found a juvenile Little Stint at the foot of 96th St plus 13 Buff-breasted Sandpipers in a potato field west of 88th St. I had already seen the previous Buffs he had found but I got out there just as soon as I could, The Little Stint would have been a lifer for me so there was no time to waste. When I arrived  Kevin was a frozen popsicle and had lost the bird. The wind was howling and it was freezing. My friends Sharon and Mike Toochin, Joachim Betrands and young birder Cole came out and we began searching we found 2 American Golden-Plovers, a Willet, Ruddy Turnstones, Stilt Sandpiper and hundreds of peeps. People split off got tired and frozen and eventually left. We ended up staying over 5 hours. We too left like frozen popsicles.

The next morning the Toochins and I and Kevin Louth agreed to meet in the morning. Kevin found 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers at 64th St and then Rob Lyske refound a Vesper Sparrow that Joachim Bertrands found a few days before. Rob and Peter Candido and Blair Bernson saw the 6 Buff-breasted Sandpipers this morning. But again we didn't focus on those birds, we went out to the mudflats. The night before I had stayed up until 2 am reading my field guides to really refresh my mind on juvenile Little Stint plumage. Kevin Louth kindly shared his expertise with me and we located a large Western Sandpiper flock. - Side Note -I did a whole blog post on stint identification and after seeing the Little Stint in person, I can say it even helped me. Anyone who is going out to look for it may want to read the Little Stint portion for a refresher. - As we looked through the flocks we had to walk towards 104th St and out onto the mudflats. We tirelessly searched every bird we could see in front of us and ended up with a Pacific Golden-Plover, an American Golden-Plover, 3 Ruddy Turnstones, some Black Turnstones,  the Willet,  several Red-necked Phalaropes, a Stilt Sandpiper, many Baird's, Sanderlings and many Semipalmated Sandpipers. It was a great day of shorebirding and then at 11:40 am Kevin Louth beside me said he thinks he may have it he described the bird and we all got on it at the same time. It was bathing and then preening and we all were so happy. I went and hugged Kevin. I know he prefers to bird alone so he was really sweet to help me like that. I finally let him go and we all continued to get nice looks at this stint. We were overcame by how bright the bird was and the big white "V"pattern or braces on the mantle and the tiniest little bill and white face. The split white supercilium was also very obvious. It was a stunning bird and I was enjoying looking at this lifer. We had it in front of us and were about to get a photo and I let others know by my phone and unfortunately a group came straight at the Black-bellied Plover flock and us and the peep flock and they all flushed. It was totally non-intentional but after 10+hours of searching over two days it was a little frustrating. But we all re-grouped up together and continued to search for the stint. While we were doing that Randy Dzenkiew found what he thought may be a Snowy Plover. Kevin who was some distance away but closer to Randy came and looked at his bird and confirmed it. We came back and all got great looks through the scope of this cute adult moulting Snowy Plover.  We even got some record photos this time!
We searched on for hours but could not relocate the stint. We went and celebrated with some drinks and food at the Boundary Bay Airport. Later in the evening other birders went out and there were illegal noisy motorized gliders and drones flying over the mudflats scaring all the birds. However, Liron Gertsman who was out searching hard and who has seen many in Israel refound it at 7:25 pm tonight. He too told me he noted all the distinctive field marks but was unable to get a photo.

Anyways getting back to after at least 11 hours on the mudflats over two days it hurt to walk off the mudflats I, Mike, Sharon and Kevin had real pain in our feet.  But it sure was worth it! We never thought that when we woke up this morning that we would go looking for a Little Stint which was a huge LONG SHOT, actually find it and then find another mega SNOWY PLOVER. It's never happened to me before but one time Peter Candido, Kevin Neill and I went to Tofino to chase a White-winged Dove that Ian Cruickshank found. We dipped on the White-winged Dove and when we were looking down trodden and about to go home Ian calls me and told me he had a Snowy Plover. We drove over wildly and got the Plover. So this is the first time I ever was so successful in any twitch.

The Snowy Plover was a new Metro Vancouver bird for me and the Little Stint was a lifer, BC bird #421, ABA Bird # 691 and both were Metro Vancouver Bird #314 and #315 for me.

The only sad thing about today was that many were out looking hard but couldn't relocate it like my friend Blair Bernson from WA and many friends from Vancouver. But most of all my partner in crime Ilya was away at work and he needs the Snowy Plover for BC and would have loved to see the Little Stint even though he's seen one in Vancouver before. Oh well it is all part of birding right? there are ups and downs, losses and gains. One day he will see the Snowy Plover in BC, maybe the one from Revelstoke will stick around a few days longer. Better yet if the Vancouver one will be relocated.... but it just would have felt so much better with him beside me.

Regardless, this is a day that will go down in the history books for me as one of the greatest birding days with some damn fine hard working, skilled and relentless people!

Thanks again to Kevin Louth for his continuous patience, birding skill, long hours and incredible finds that he has shared with so many in Vancouver and BC!


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