Saturday, October 20, 2012

Peepity Peep Peep Peep

A Flock of Seagulls may produce a one-hit wonder, but a good pile of Peeps can sustain a birder for years, maybe even a lifetime. With a pocket of peeps on the beach a birder can find half a dozen species commingling within a few square feet of each other, or maybe just fifty of a single species. Either way, it can take days, weeks, or months to figure it out, with the exciting and frustrating possibility that their identity may not ever be fully known.    


There are many packs of roving peeps around the Salton Sea, like these Sandpipers here, but these ravenous bands can turn up anywhere there's a bit of water and some mud. 


Some Peeps make it easy on a fella/fellady, like the yellow-legged Least Sandpiper.


The Least Sandpiper has a diminutive name and equally diminutive personality. Snowy Plovers are shy  too, but they have a specialness about them. Maybe it's just that, with so many Sandpipers around, there's something refreshing in the gentle roundedness of a Plover, especially a Plover that is not also a Killdeer. 


Even the most dignified Peeps, birds that are eminently light on their feet, sometimes get stuck in the mud. This Snowy Plover hopped across a little eddy and muddied his undersides. He tried to play it cool for a minute, making it out like he wanted to skulk in the muck, but this is not usual Snowy Plover behavior.


After freeing himself, the Snowy Plover looked around nervously. He asked me not to tell anyone and so, naturally, I'm spreading his picture and story on the internet.


People watching is fun for the paparazzi, and Peep watching is fun for the birder paparazzi. As disreputable as it is, in the end many birders are Peeping Toms.

17 comments:

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    1. Thanks Eileen. They do all the hard part.

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  2. ...And peeping Janes too heh heh...there IS something appealing about the plover peep.....having been back to Florida for less than 2 weeks, I have yet to get to the beach and revisit my own peeps, can't wait. But alas, interior painting and furniture shopping are at the top of the list after 4 months away...Thanks for visiting my Blog and for the smile your posts always bring. :o) (see?!)

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    1. Oh yes Jann, plenty of Peeping Janes. I didn't mean to leave them out, I just didn't want to sound too accusatory...

      It sounds like you've traded one kind of busy for another! I hope it goes well and you find an afternoon for beach time soon. Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Great shots. Our whole area was cleared for development years ago, but only recently did they start actually building here. In the meantime, all the muddy holes and road-side ditches created by the clearing of the farmland was great for plovers and the like. Even had a group of Solitary Sandpipers for awhile.

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    1. There is a particular joy in the puddle peeps, especially those that can be found in urban areas.
      Plovers are funny to, in that they're usually coastal birds but then some turn in in plains states during certain times of year.

      Thanks for stopping by Moe

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  4. I love the photo of the Snowy Plover in the mud, how cute! And please don't forget us Peepin' Janes!

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    1. Never again Mia "Peepin Jane" McPherson, promise :)

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  5. I guess when your legs are so delicate, it doesn't take much to get stuck in the mud! Glad it was able to break free so you didn't have to attempt a rescue!!

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    1. Oh, so I have delicate legs and I'm a bad rescuer??? Thanks Tammy...

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  6. Way to embarrass that plover! He will never this down... Stuck in the mud like an amateur!

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    1. It was a totally nOoB mistake on his part. I feel a little bit bad, cause' when the other Plovers see this he'll never live it down. But hey, nature can be a cruel place.

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  7. Great post Laurence, love the shots. Peeps are fun to watch.

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  8. Nice closeups! I brought the telephoto just to get shots of the many many peeps flying around. I still don't know what that means by the way:) Is it a bird or bunch of tiny birds that get together? I sat trying to capture the shots just so I could get home and ID them but they were way too far off to get on camera....and if I can't ID, then it doesn't count. I hope to get closer to the peeps but they are in an area too far away. I think it may be time for a new telphoto lens:)

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    1. I take Peeps to just be those little piping birds. They scuttle around and make peeping noises, tending to forage in groups and have similar construction.

      It's kinda like the word 'bug', which can include lots of different stuff, but generally refers to common things.

      I'm looking to upgrade my telephoto too, but with work bearing down I haven't been able to do enough birding to justify the substantial expense.

      Here's to winter break!

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  9. I know I know Laurence. New stronger lens or tropical trip like to Ecuador in the summer where I could use my spanish and help catalog birds AND take pictures. I'd like to do two mini trips to Montana and Florida in between but as you say, work is bearing down and sucking the life out of me. I have been really forcing myself to schedule birding in but at the sacrifice of a haircut, putting air in my tires....going to the eye doctor. Tonight no birding. Just the little things.... which are actually pretty big......

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