Last night's visit to Otter Slough CA was bittersweet in that while there, department staff turned on the pumps to field/pool R7 unit and mud flats were covered in less than 8 minutes. This of course is in preparation for fall migrant/winter resident waterfowl and shorebirds, etc. Other units have pumps turned on as well. I'm ready for larger waders/shorebirds to come plowing into these semi-wet fields . . . there are just so many fields, so little time!
Before the waters came a flooding into pool R7, 9 species of shorebirds were present (though, nothing unexpected). Also on the premises were 6 waterfowl species which most notable were 6 N. Shovelers, 14 N. Pintail and 1 Ruddy Duck which I really believe has been present all summer . . . hanging out in Pool/Field 24 with the Pied-billed Grebe and Wood Duck families.
A lone Loggerhead Shrike was midway on the southern side of Pool 21. I believe there were 3 pair of Loggerhead Shrikes present this summer on the eastern side of Otter Slough, predominantly along Hwy ZZ and Hwy H.
At the backside of Pool 35 in a stand of willows was a troublesome bird. The fact that a solid 200-250 yards stood between me and the bird was enough to throw me for a loop; then add in heat shimmers for some serious diagnostic hurdles. One saving factor was the the evening sunlight was to my back and it shown directly on the bird. Hey, it can't rain all the time, right?
After thoroughly searching through each and every relevant page in the National Geographic's "Complete Birds of North America" encyclopedia, I felt strongly that I had been watching and digiscoping a basic plumage Bobolink, or a Grasshopper Sparrow hopped up on steroids. I called in reinforcements, sending a description and photos to Josh Uffman and Joe Eades for confirmation . . . which they confirmed was indeed a fall plumage Bobolink. I'm a bit ashamed to say, "This was a tough bird for me to identify regardless of distance and shimmers!" With backlit setting and/or overcast skies, I very easily could have dismissed it as a very light, female Red-winged Blackbird. <grin>
Things are moving through!
Good Birding!

Chris Barrigar
Stoddard Co.
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