I returned to San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary last Tuesday, Sept. 9th, to hopefully find and photograph the Solitary Sandpiper. Luck was not with me as once again I dipped on that bird. It never showed up in the whole 5 hours I was there!
Fortunately, another uncommon species, the Pectoral Sandpiper, has been the epitome of avian cooperation. The moment I arrived at the eastern end of Pond C, this lovely bird showed up and proceeded to hunt for food about 25 feet away from me.
When I have had my fill of the Pectoral, I continued to scan the pond with the hope that the Solitary would somehow pop up. Through this endeavor, I was to have good looks at the other feathered occupants of the pond. Of particular interest was the strange fishing habit of a Black-crowned Night Heron. Normally, a heron would stand almost motionless by the banks of a pond or river and wait patiently for a tiny fish to swim close. It would then suddenly strike with its long beak to grab the unfortunate victim. This particular one however, swims or rather floats, on the pond and watches for an approaching fish. Then it would jump off the water, and then dive for the fish, much like how the pelicans would catch their prey.
A little after 2 pm, with the Solitary Sandpiper doing a no-show, I decided to pack it up. I guess that species will be my new grail bird. It took me four years to finally get a picture of the Elegant Trogon - my very first grail bird. Hopefully it won't take that long for me to finally get a shot at the Solitary Sandpiper.