|Shorebird flock - Western and Pectoral Sandpipers|
|The sweet lovers' embrace of a couple of star-crossed orthopterans|
|Damselfly glamour shot|
We spent parts of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Ankeny NWR reveling in migrant Pectoral Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, and assorted peeps. Practically everything else we tried to turn into a Baird's Sandpiper, but we just couldn't make the name fit convincingly. The real highlight of the weekend, though, was a collaboration between two birds you'd never imagine seeing together, even while they share a home.
|Pectoral and Western Sandpipers|
I was crouched down inspecting a bug, when I noticed a form out on a muddy patch of shoreline that hadn't been there a minute earlier. "Rail… rail… Virginia Rail" I sputtered. We manage to (rarely) see these from time to time, but like any rail, they're more often heard than seen, and this was the most open we've caught one yet. A few seconds later and it was joined by another super secretive species, a Sora.
It's uncommon enough to see one of these skulkers out from behind their usual dense cover, but to see both side by side is practically unfathomable, like bigfoot sidling up to a unicorn. The two lingered together for nearly a minute, picking at the substrate like old friends. The Sora left first, and then came back shortly after for an encore. For all I know this was one in a long series of regular inter-rail check-ins, but truly it seemed like something that will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. In fact, I did hear from one researcher on Twitter who studies rails, and she told me that she's never seen a Sora commingle with a Virginia Rail. So there you go.