Today we left Rosetown, Saskatchewan around 9 am and headed south to one of my favourite birding sites in the province - Luck Lake. We hoped to catch some lingering Arctic bound migrant shorebirds here, but I knew even if there were none present that the breeding shorebirds and waterfowl would still keep us busy. We entered the lake from the north side along a causeway which runs roughly north south and crosses the western third of the lake. In addition to the numerous AMERICAN AVOCETS, MARBLED GODWITS, WILLETS and WILSON'S PHALAROPES, we managed to find a smattering of migrants such as BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (10), SANDERLING (20), SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (40), WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER (12).
At our second stop about 500 metres from the north end of the lake, I was stunned to see a strange GODWIT feeding next to two Marbled Godwits. It was bright orange on the neck and chest fading to white on the underparts. The feeding style was also much different, as the bird stayed with a low flat profile to the back and appeared smaller and quite short legged. It also appeared that the tail was barred when viewed from the side. I had a strong suspicion what the bird was but checked Sibley and it was unequivocal that this was a BAR-TAILED GODWIT coming into alternate plumage!!!!! My group of eight spent the next half hour watching the bird, including twice when it took flight allowing us to get some diagnostic views of the tail and wing pattern.
In the first image below you will note the short legged appearance of the bird and the orange neck and breast fading to white underparts.
In this image, taken as the bird landed, the "bar-tail" is clearly visible.
In this final image (my favourite!!), you can see the underwing pattern (important in godwits), tail pattern, and breast pattern.
I didnt have any contact information for Sask birders outside an email address for my friend Bob Luterbach (sorry Bob I lost your cell when my phone crashed and I lost all my addresses this spring). However a quick call to Ontarian Paul Pratt, helped to put the word out on Saskbirds. It looks like a number of birders were able to head out there today. I really hope the bird stuck around for them. I am not sure, but I would guess this is the first record for the province as there are very few records for this species for inland North America. This was my first for Canada and a great bird for the whole group.