This species takes one of the longest known migratory flights, traveling 9,300 miles from its breeding grounds in the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. In spring it depends on the availability of Horseshoe Crab eggs, moving northward up the Atlantic coast in step with the latter's egg-laying cycle which peaks every two weeks with each full and new moon.
I visited the http://report.bandedbirds.org/ website and discovered that this bird was first captured and banded in Avalon, New Jersey on November 11, 2005. In November of the next three years it was sighted on the New Jersey coast; in 2009 it appeared in Virginia in May, then back in New Jersey in August. There were no sightings in 2010, but multiple sightings were reported back in Avalon, New Jersey during November, 2011. The only sighting during 2012 was on a New Jersey beach.
Then it turned up on Tigertail Beach on February 27 of this year, lingering here for at least two weeks to refuel. (Click on photos for enlarged views)
Tigertail was the nickname of Thlocklo Tustenuggee, a Florida Seminole Indian Chief who was honored as a "War Leader" during the Second Seminole Indian War. Tigertail was known for wearing a long belt cut from panther skin that trailed down from his waist like a tail. His name is found on several streets and neighborhoods up the Florida coast.
The knot was the first I have ever photographed, and I was rewarded with three more "first photos." Two were plovers. Several tiny Snowy Plovers ran along the shore like wind-up toys. Since they nest on beaches they are subject to disturbance and require protection during the breeding season.
Wilson's Plover was another bird I had not yet photographed. This is an adult male. Note its large black bill and pale pinkish legs. They are half again larger than the Snowy Plover, weighing in at a little over 2 ounces.
The female Wilson's Plover is much paler in color.
The male Wilson's Plovers were singing loudly. Listen to this brief video clip. I had never before heard their song.
Similar in plumage but smaller, the 1.6 ounce Semipalmated Plover sports a shorter two-tone bill and brighter orange legs. It owes its name to the fact that its toes are only partially webbed.The Black-bellied Plover is our largest plover, weighing in at about a half pound (six times the weight of the tiny Snowy Plover). I We also saw Killdeer, making it a five-plover day. Other shorebirds included the Ruddy Turnstone... ...numerous Dunlins... ...Sanderlings... ...a Willet... ...Least Sandpipers, with tell-tale yellow legs... ...and two Short-billed Dowitchers that probed the mud in sewing-machine fashion, gobbling up the Horseshoe Crab eggs. An Osprey nest at the edge of the dunes contained some clothing and an unusual fishing accessory. White Ibises competed for crab eggs at the water's edge. Brown Pelicans dove for fish offshore. Just outside the entrance to the beach, Burrowing Owls nested in vacant lots. They were provided with low T-shaped roosts and orange tape was placed around their homes to discourage close approach.
This one struck an interesting pose..