The Fallen Yellowlegs – 10,000 Birds

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Yesterday morning was merely a kind of extremely eventful birding periods, about which I could expound upon in elements inside the coming weeks. After a number of (comparatively) run-of-the-mill birding missions inside the rainforest and alongside the coasts of Tobago over the previous few weeks, we saved getting our socks knocked off whereas birding the wetlands of southwest Tobago yesterday. From real rarities to undocumented polymorphism – the magic of birding was really in full swing. Rising above all inside my psyche nevertheless, is the next sequence of occasions that unfolded earlier than breakfast.

On a tiny island there’s a restricted collection of areas, and I’ve written about these ponds on a prior put up. Upon arrival, exercise appeared sluggish. Many of the birds had been within the furthest ponds, a pair of juvenile Black Skimmers had been working towards their method inside the confines of the oblong ponds. A concrete wall halving one of many ponds was a preferred relaxation spot for a number of birds. Inquisitive about making pictures, I drifted away from this wall.

Be aware of this Higher Yellowlegs on the wall from a screengrab of a video of the Black Skimmer.

My consideration was pulled to the wall after I observed this motley crew of shorebirds. L-R: White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Higher Yellowlegs, Brief-billed Dowitcher, Higher Yellowlegs

To my shock, quietly floating beside the wall was the limp physique of a Higher Yellowlegs, a few of its feathers nonetheless dry. Its head drifted awkwardly away from its lifeless physique. Someway inside the quiet stillness of this cool tropical morning, a fowl closed its eyes for the final time and unceremoniously slipped away beneath the brooding, overcast sky. With out a lot as a splash, it slipped into the water.

A second of silence for the departed.

I say unceremoniously – however I’m utilizing the human metric by which we resolve what makes noise and what doesn’t. Clearly there was some measure of communication; some broadcast message went out to all related events. Life departed from yet one more little physique, and all had been notified.

Over the course of the next hour or so we noticed many alternative species *coincidentally* alight on the wall close to to the physique of the fallen yellowlegs. Solely species not pictured is Lesser Yellowlegs, when a pair flew in I used to be too busy evaluating the dimensions of the floating physique to the stay birds to correctly verify the ID of the useless fowl. Apologies for excluding them from this carousel.

This Widespread Gallinule walked from the place it was perched up to now, made a pair unusual positions with its physique, then flew off.

This Black-bellied Whistling Duck was on its solution to go to its mate and younger brood additional afield in the identical pond however made a detour.

Noticed Sandpiper

We left this pair of Least Sandpipers on the scene.

There are numerous questions which observe an remark corresponding to this. I spoke a few posts in the past on the bond between a Whimbrel and a Willet (I can verify we noticed the identical pair, nonetheless collectively, later this similar morning) – and I observed an analogous kinship between a Pectoral Sandpiper and a White-rumped Sandpiper. Wherever one flew, so did the opposite. With related migration routes, would this pair journey collectively from one nook of the planet to the opposite?

Pectoral Sandpiper (L) and White-rumped Sandpiper (R)

Additional consideration have to be given to the character of the visitations. Paying respects? Was it some kind of funeral? Did the Black-bellied Whistling Duck characterize his household, “displaying face” as we are saying right here within the Caribbean? Or was all of it dumb luck, the randomness of nature at play, pure coincidence?

Animals clearly see loss of life and expertise it as we do, so the query shouldn’t be one in every of if, however of how. Elephants, peccaries, and corvids have all been documented processing the loss of life of (as we put it) a liked one. So far as I’m conscious, these practices have at all times concerned a member of the household group, the flock – on the very least a member of the identical species. This isn’t an try to anthropomorphize, as that may point out that people are the one creatures able to possessing sure traits. There may be a lot we nonetheless have to be taught as a species occupying actual property on this planet (as if the ecological disaster didn’t already make that abundantly clear) however I imagine the largest hurdle could also be coming to phrases with accepting that simply because one thing hasn’t been noticed doesn’t point out its non-existence.



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