Alachua Audubon Society

A chapter of the National Audubon Society

Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Paynes Prairie

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From: Rex Rowan <rexrowan@gmail.com>
To: Alachua County birding report

I have figured this out. All I have to do, if I want to see good birds, is follow Matt O’Sullivan around. It’s that easy. I don’t have to think about where to go, or what I should be looking for. I just have to go with Matt O’Sullivan wherever he goes, and I will see good birds.

Today, for instance. We visited the Sheetflow Restoration Project, which should be completed this coming winter. As we trudged along, Matt was telling me he’d really like to see a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, though he knew they were more likely from late August through September. Being older (much, much older) and wiser (okay, no, but definitely older), I reminded him that there were only two previous records of Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the county: one from September 10-13, 2005, and one on September 17, 2011. So in other words, this was a bird that (a.) he shouldn’t expect too see at all, ever, and (b.) that, on the exceedingly rare occasions when it did visit us, would be expected in mid-September, not early August. Yes, said Matt, I understand, but it is a bird I would very much like to see, oh, look, what is that bird flying? Probably just a Pectoral Sandpiper, I said in an expert tone of voice, but I followed the bird with my binoculars, and when it landed I squinted at it for a second and then I looked at it through my telescope and then I looked dazedly at Matt. I was almost inclined to punch him in the nose at that point, because no one should have such good luck, because it was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

He got a bunch of photos, of which he posted three:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/118053703@N02/14691607168/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/118053703@N02/14691604918/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/118053703@N02/14691602358/

If you know the Sheetflow Restoration Project, then you know there’s a metal bridge over a narrow earthen enclosure, or cell. This cell has water in the middle, but most of it is short grass, and that’s where the Buffy has been staying, in company with several Killdeer and a couple of Spotted Sandpipers. However, there is no access to the Sheetflow Restoration Project during working hours, so you should run over there this afternoon if you want to see it, or cross your fingers and hope that it sticks around.

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