Friday, June 13, 2014

Red-necked Phalaropes (but not Whimbrel) at Kuna Sewage Ponds

After spending an early May morning catching up on passerine migrants at Hulls Gulch, we headed out to the Kuna Sewage Ponds to try to find a Whimbrel that other birders had reported finding a few days earlier. We were out of town when it was first found, so we were a day or two late, and didn’t find it, but we did enjoy seeing this place for the first time, and finding a few other shorebirds instead.

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Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 6, 2014.

Birding at sewage ponds was quite the contrast to our nice morning walk through a natural reserve in the foothills, but at least there were birds! This was our first time out to the ponds, since they’re normally only accessible on weekdays when the attendant is there to unlock the gate for visitors, but I had a day off of work so the timing worked out great.

There are nine different ponds, each with a different water level, and as a result, different types of birds. The ones that were more full had lots of ducks and geese, and with the shorebirds concentrated on the ponds that were low or empty.

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Cinnamon Teals and American Coots at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 6, 2014.

We found quite a few families of baby Mallards and Canada Geese hanging around some of the pond edges.

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Mallard hen and chicks at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 6, 2014.

Black-necked Stilts were probably the most common shorebird, and we found them wandering the edges of most of the ponds.

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Black-necked Stilts at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 6, 2014.

One of the better finds was 9 different Red-necked Phalaropes spread out in several groups on different ponds. They’re found in the area each year, but they’re not always widespread or found in high numbers.

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Red-necked Phalaropes at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 6, 2014.

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Red-necked Phalarope at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 6, 2014.

The pond in the northwest corner was nearly empty, and is where the Whimbrel had been found. When we arrived, there were a handful of sandpipers and American Avocets, but no Whimbrel.

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Least Sandpiper and Western Sandpiper at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 6, 2014.

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American Avocet at Kuna Sewage Ponds, Ada County. May 6, 2014.

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