Yet.....yet.....on Wednesday it was still sighted in the Dogleg area. All right...Thursday it is and I am on it.
I arrive at the refuge around 9:45 am and decide to hit the Gull Tower area, just in case. I know if I would have skipped it, the Greenshank would have been there but in this case, nada.... No Greenshank, so off I went.
I skipped stopping and going and just concentrated on going. The closer I got to the east Dike road the more I realized that something is going on over there. A funeral procession of cars lined up. Images of movement around...hmmm, appears good I thought, so perhaps this 'lifer' will be an easy find. I pass the first few cars in the line and make my way to the middle of the car lot. I think there was an equal number of scopes to people. All eyes were on the scopes and yet they were not on the same locale. Scopes pointed in all directions which meant that no Greenshank yet.....
Getting out of the car I was immediately hit by the cold wind. Hmmmm, this will be enjoyable. Setting up my scope I just started the process of being on 'stakeout' mode. It mimics a tail-gate at the Eagles game as everyone is camped out with scopes. No beer, no food, just scopes of all types roaming the east pond.
My scope joins the hunt.......Well past 10am...into 10:30....to 10:45...a large truck stops by and wants to know if we have seen any Teal. Teal eh? ...nah, I haven't looked for them but I see some black Ducks. Will those due? Anyhow, back to the scope. 11am.....11:15...... it is approaching 90 minutes out here in the wind. Near me about 20 yards down was a group of 5-6 and one of them had a New Jersey Audubon jacket on and I could hear them chatting away. I figure to myself, I can move on up the east dike for a change in scenery....or I can stay here near the Audubon chap who, if there is anyone out here that is a good person to be by, he is it. So....I move my gear closer to that small group.
The chatter picks up.....I hear this at first, as it plays out.
"He is in that flock flying"
"Where?, did it land yet?
Yeah...over there on the islands'
"Which one, right or left?"
"Anyone on the bird?"
"Which Island, right or left?"
"I am on it, left island"
"Right I see it, I think it is the 3rd bird in from the left"
"Which Island" ..
"Left, anyone on it ?
"Now it has moved to the second bird, and is facing the right, foraging'
"Pale, much paler than the Yellowlegs'
"Got it in the scope, anyone care to look?"
(BY THIS TIME I WAS ALREADY ON IT...PALE BIRD, SAME SIZE AS YELLOW LEGS...PALE THOUGH...AWESEOME, A LIFER"
"Oh, its up...in flight..right...see the white wedge on the back?"
"Cheers from the crowd"
"He moved to the inner island...can't find it'
Anyone on the bird?".
"Yeah...left hand side again but I think he went around back of Island'
"Nah back'...up front'...right there....easy to see"
"Yeah, right out front, easy pickings'
"Up again...., where did it go?"
(AT THIS POINT I FOLLOWED THE GREENSHANK TO THE NEIGHBORING SPIT AND COULD CLEARLY SEE THE WHITE OF THE TAIL AND WEDGE...)
"Anyone on it?"
"Yes, at the spit, I think around back of it..."
"I see it....see those rocks in back with the gulls on it? Right to the left and near the brushes, facing to the right"
"Moving to the left now, ....out front, A mallard just passed it so he is right in back"
"Obvious.....walking to right, he just walked past the terns near the rock..."
Etc etc etc......a lady who missed the action just showed up and starting asking me where it was....she traveled over an hour to get here. I pointed the scope to the general direction and the Audubon guy came over and made sure she was 'on it' ....End result? Uncommon Greenshank becomes the Common Greenshank.... We were on it probably 30 minute easily. It flew multiple times but still remained in view in the general area, probably a couple hundred yards from the road, inwards so a spotting scope was a necessity and photo's if any were worthless. Seemingly in that cold and wind, there must have been a hundred thousand Yellowlegs (nah, more like 200-300 in that spot but realize there were multiple spots of the same) to look at 'one at a time', until finally one pair of eyes found the bird and followed it in flight. At that time, it was just a matter of finding where that flock of 20-30 landed and then go thru them again.....'one at a time' . Bingo.....lifer....."Audubon guy' below....Great set of eyes he has, good helper....made sure all that were around found the bird and had eyes on it....couldn't get any better than that'.