Saturday, August 30, 2008

Did Knot. Did Too!

The Red Knot is a dumpy shorebird that weighs less than half a pound. Despite its relatively small size, it has one of those migrations that really just blows your mind when you think about it. During the summer breeding season, you can find them on the arctic tundra. Their wintering grounds? For some, it is the extreme southern tip of South America. Those that breed in Russia head "Down Under. " In either case, that's basically the whole globe.

Knowing they spend such a short time here in Michigan, it was a real treat to see one at Lake Erie Metropark today. In fact, a quick review of my notes shows that this was only my second Red Knot ever. At times, the bird was 30 or 40 feet away. It was a spectacular opportunity to study the bird.

You might be wondering "Where the red?". This bird doesn't have it...yet. The red is found on the bird when it is in breeding plumage. This bird was a youngster (literally born a few weeks back). Assuming it survives it's travels to the wintering grounds and back, it will be wearing a some stunning new duds.

Unfortunately, the future of the North American subspecies of Red Knot is looking rather gloomy. It's population has been crashing and it is very possible that extinction on this continent will be reality sooner rather than later. I'm talking in the order of years, not decades...

As an avid lister for some locations, this beauty brings my Lake Erie Metropark total to 243 species, while my Wayne County creeps along at 268 species.

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