Black-bellied Plover and Ruddy Turnstone, Piping Plovers and Red Knots

Our last day on Kiawah was rainy all day, except for a short break of about an hour just before noon, when I headed out to the beach. It was beautiful. A low, stormy gray sky, gray-green water, and only three or four other people as far as I could see. Not many birds, either, but a few. Brown Pelicans, a Cormorant, Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls and one Laughing Gull flew over. Forster’s Terns still flew and hovered over the edge of the waves. Dolphins swam just offshore, dark arcs that rose and disappeared.

A Black-bellied Plover foraged around tidal pools, with a solitary Ruddy Turnstone that stayed right with it, though a few feet away. When the Plover flew, the Turnstone flew, and settled near it again. Six Piping Plovers skittered over the sand nearby. Two of them were coming into breeding plumage, with a thin, broken black band around the neck.

And one Red Knot fed on the edge of the surf for a long time. It took me a while to figure out what it was, because it was alone and not in a flock. Watching it long enough to get a very good look, fairly close, I could even see a pale cinnamon color emerging on the speckled breast, though it was still mostly gray all over. It fed by probing fast and steadily in the sand as it moved, intent on its work. At a different spot along the beach, two more Red Knots flew in and fed along the edge of the waves in much the same way. Maybe there was a larger flock nearby.

The rain began to fall harder, and by late afternoon and evening had become a deluge that lasted all night.

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