Early in the summer of 2022 a Black-necked Stilt appeared in a salt panne adjacent to busy Route One in Scarborough. Birders from all over the state risked their lives walking the quarter mile required along this crazy stretch of road for a chance to see a bird rarely found so far from its southern and western range. No one stayed very long, as every minute spent there felt like a close brush with death.
Earlier this week another (or the same?) appeared further back in the marsh on a footpath (thankfully!). I rushed over after work and carried my scope the ¾ mile distance to the salt panne where the stilt had been seen. A few birder friends were there and helped me find him tucked behind a mound of marsh grass. Periodically his head popped up, but he was distant, and it was difficult to get a satisfying view of him.
As time passed, the stilt moved closer, eventually flying across the path into a panne close to the trail and in perfect light. It was a delight to watch this rather comical looking bird, reminiscent of a Tinker Toy creation, tip-toe and prod in the panne as the sun began to set with a birder friend to boot. And with no fear of being mowed down by a passing car. A great way to end the day!
Frosting on the birdseed cake – a Wilson’s Phalarope made a brief appearance in the pannes with the stilt!