Florida 2015 – Bunche Beach

*Click on photos to enlarge.*

~This was definitely THE bird for me at Bunche Beach. MARBLED GODWIT at Bunche Beach, 5/8/15.~
~This was definitely THE bird for me at Bunche Beach. MARBLED GODWIT at Bunche Beach, 5/8/15.~

I love shorebirds. I really love shorebirds, but boy can they be difficult to identify. Especially when you are at a beach in another state a thousand miles away and you really haven’t done your homework.

I got several recommendations to go to Bunche Beach while I was in Florida, and I ended up going there early in the morning on two different days. On the first day, the number of shorebird species I had was on the low side; two photographers were there ahead of me and were literally chasing the birds around. I did better on the second day when I basically had the beach to myself. What a great joy to have all these beautiful shorebirds in perfect, gorgeous light. But then, of course, you have to identify them. I struggled as I sorted through the birds, but I think I eventually figured them all out. Here is my list of shorebirds I had for the two days; if you see any of the photos here misidentified, please comment to help me get it right – thanks! Life birds are in all caps.

American Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Willet
MARBLED GODWIT
Ruddy Turnstone
RED KNOT
Sanderling
Dunlin
Least Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher

~Always cute, a Semipalmated Plover cruises the shoreline at Bunche Beach, 5/8/15.~
~Always cute, a Semipalmated Plover cruises the shoreline at Bunche Beach, 5/8/15.~
~I saw many Willets in the week that we were down in Florida, so they were becoming a bit blasé for me, but I liked this flight photo. Bunch Beach, 5/8/15.~
~I saw many Willets in the week that we were down in Florida; I caught this one in flight at Bunch Beach, 5/8/15.~
~I love this American Oystercatcher, it has such striking colors! I have not altered the saturation of this photo at all - it has been cropped, the highlights reduced a bit, and then sharpened at the eye and bill. Bunch Beach, 5/8/15.~
~I love this American Oystercatcher, it has such striking colors! I have not altered the saturation of this photo at all – it has been cropped, the highlights reduced a bit, and then sharpened at the eye and bill. Bunch Beach, 5/8/15.~
~This was one of my tougher ID's - I have it as a Short-billed Dowitcher. The size seemed right for this and I looked at other reports from Bunche Beach earlier in the week and SBDOs were on several lists. At Bunche Beach on 5/7/15.~
~This was one of my tougher ID’s – I have it as a Short-billed Dowitcher. The size seemed right for this and I looked at other reports from Bunche Beach earlier in the week and SBDOs were on several lists. At Bunche Beach on 5/7/15.~
~A MARBLED GODWIT takes a short flight. Bunche Beach, 5/8/25.~
~A MARBLED GODWIT takes a short flight. Bunche Beach, 5/8/25.~
~There were plenty of Dunlin present on both days, Bunche Beach 5/7/15.~
~There were plenty of Dunlin present on both days, Bunche Beach 5/7/15.~
~I think I am getting a handle on this bird (but maybe I'm wrong!). Sanderling at Bunche Beach, 5/7/15.~
~I think I am getting a handle on this bird (but maybe I’m wrong!). Sanderling at Bunche Beach, 5/7/15.~
~Black-bellied Plover and reflection. Bunche Beach, 5/7/15.~
~Black-bellied Plover and reflection. Bunche Beach, 5/7/15.~
~I have this bird as a RED KNOT, but may it's not (ha ha). To me there's nothing special about this photo but I wanted to include it to see if anyone would confirm it as a Red Knot. Bunche Beach, 5/8/15.~
~I have this bird as a RED KNOT, but may it’s not (ha ha). To me there’s nothing special about this photo but I wanted to include it to see if anyone would confirm it as a Red Knot. Bunche Beach, 5/8/15.~

Bunche Beach is a great location and I had more good birds than just the shorebirds. I enjoyed watching a large group of Black Skimmers flying in unison over the water in the distance; I estimated at least 65 birds were there. When they came to rest on a distant sandbar, I noticed that there were approximately a dozen ROYAL TERNS there as well. I also did well with wading birds, including: Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, REDDISH EGRET, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, White Ibis, and five ROSEATE SPOONBILLS did a flyby on that second morning. Beautiful birds!

~This one's for Tricia - Little Blue Heron just after sunrise. Bunche Beach 5/7/15.~
~This one’s for Tricia – Little Blue Heron just after sunrise. Bunche Beach 5/7/15.~
~A Tricolored Heron hunts along the shoreline. Bunche Beach, 5/8/15.~
~A Tricolored Heron hunts along the shoreline. Bunche Beach, 5/8/15.~
~(Hopefully) Short-billed Dowitchers at Bunche Beach, 5/8/15. I think the bird behind the central SBDO and to the left is the bird I have identified as a RED KNOT in an above photo.~
~(Hopefully) Short-billed Dowitchers at Bunche Beach, 5/8/15. I think the bird behind the central SBDO and to the left is the bird I have identified as a RED KNOT in an above photo.~

8 thoughts on “Florida 2015 – Bunche Beach”

  1. Matt,
    All of your identifications are correct! A helpful hint with your dowitchers is the fact they are in salt water. Long-billed are almost always in fresh water. If you have large numbers of dowitchers in salt water, they are almost certainly Short-billed. Nice job on your photos! John

    1. Great to hear John. It is easy for me to get lost while trying to sort out shorebirds. And thanks for the tip about the dowitchers, I didn’t know that. Matt

  2. Nice shots! Esp the MG in flight!
    Another thing to keep in mind trying to id Shorebirds is like any other bird but very important is ‘behavior’!
    Dowitchers are constantly (what i like to call) Dowitching. They look like their drilling into the mud. Headed to Cape May myself this coming weekend for the big Red Knot stop at Reeds beach!
    Thanks for sharing

    1. That’s a really good point, Bill. I tend to focus on size and structure but I’m sure it would be helpful if I took note of their behavior more. Good luck and have fun in Cape May. Matt

  3. I LOVE that Marbled Godwit with the water droplet on it’s bill! They are great birds. I enjoyed many of the same species when I was in St Pete on Tampa Bay two years ago in Feb. I enjoyed hundreds of wintering shorebirds on a sandbar at Lassing Park, just south of St. Pete. The MG was my favorite too. Richard

    1. Yeah, Richard, I was really blown away by the Marbled Godwits, what a super bird. Oh, and what a great area for birds. Matt

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