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Meret and all,

Don't let the heat fool you. Late July and early August are probably THE
prime time for the early migrant shorebirds. Among the earliest are the
adult Least Sandpipers, adults typically migrate through first while the
youngsters dribble through later. This is evident, from the recent reports
from places like Fort Desoto where the Whimbrel, and Long-billed Curlew
have returned, where Avocets pose, and where Least Sandpipers are being
seen in all plumages. Western Sandpipers are building too, and many are
noting the arrival of Piping Plovers in worn alternate plumage (breeding)
indicating that these are likely birds that have completed their nesting
and are returning. If you bird much for shorebirds in June you will note
that the majority of birds that typically breed further north but remain in
FL are often in non-breeding plumage.

Charlie Ewell has been doing regular weekly surveys of Estero Lagoon in Ft.
Myers throughout the summer and noted  in a recent post to SWFL birds, the
changes he has seen in the past two weeks. Many species showing up in
numbers that had been absent, or many in alternate plumage where there had
been only a few drab individuals prior. At Stump Pass where I have made
weekly pilgrimages this spring and summer, I've noted much of the same.
Through June there had been only one or two drab Sanderling around,
yesterday I had 32 (many in rich breeding colors). Through June I noted
only 1 or two Willets, now there are over 40. Plus there are now 5 species
of plover where I had just 2 in June (Wilson's, Snowy, Piping,
Semipalmated, Black-bellied). One of the other fun developments of note is
the huge influx of Juvenile plumaged Laughing Gulls, Royal and Sandwich
Terns. Yes, it is still hot, but it is a great time to get out and study
the varying plumages of worn alternate, retained basic, and juvenile
plumages of shorebirds, plus the varying gull and tern plumages make for a
fun and educational study as well. So get out and enjoy the fun while it is
happening.

Nothing like a nice day at the beach, where cool coastal breezes keep you
comfortable. Those that are more daring, however, will want to try and
brave the elements and head inland to places like Belle Glade in search of
the first Golden Plovers, Buff-breasted & Upland Sandpipers, and perhaps a
Wilson's Phalarope or two.

Good birding (like there is any other kind!),

Jeff Bouton
Port Charlotte, FL
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