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.