September 29, 2016
"Whenever I hear about a sighting of a bird that I have never seen before, I tend to react in a Pavlovian fashion." So began my blog post of nine days ago. Well, the same thing happened today, as Penny Warren sent out an e-mail alert after she, Allen Larner, and Elaine Carwile had seen a flock of 60-80 American Golden Plovers at the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction, the same place as before. So, once again I drove up to Rockingham County in search of those birds. (It was just a few of them last week.) After arriving at the destination, I looked everywhere, scanning the adjacent plowed corn fields in hopes of seeing some, in vain. So, I drove around to nearby farms, thinking that perhaps the flock had relocated. No luck. So, I returned to the auction place, and met some other birders there, and within a few minutes we had spotted the birds in question. YES-S-S-S!!! It was hard to see well because the skies were turning dark, and in fact it started to rain for a few minutes. The others soon departed, and after it cleared up, the birds moved closer to the auction place, enabling me to get some better photos.
The Golden Plovers only look golden when the sun is at the right angle, and when they are in the right plumage. The juveniles are duller, while most of the adults were at an intermediate stage between breeding plumage (with a black mask and belly) and winter plumage.
I thought this was a "life bird" for me, but after checking my Life bird list page, I realized that I had actually seen an American Golden Plover at Leonard's Pond (north of Weyer's Cave) on Oct. 14, 2005.