The moment was anticlimactic, but last Monday I saw my 300th species in New Mexico! (Barring the unidentifiable peep last year and a lone phalarope from a few weeks ago.) Last Sunday, a local birder found an immature Ruddy Turnstone at the Tramway wetlands north of the city. This is a common bird on the coasts of North America but is rarer inland during migration. Here is a map from eBird showing occurrences of Ruddy Turnstones for all seasons from 1900 to 2011:
We had company that weekend which was more important than a silly little bird! After our friend departed on Monday afternoon, I read that the turnstone was still present. Melissa went off to a knitting group and I was free to chase the bird. No one else was looking for it when I arrived around 6 PM and, even worse, there were no birds around. Thankfully it didn’t take long too walk along the stinky concrete channel and across the railroad tracks. I looked down onto the mud, and there was the turnstone. That and a Killdeer were the only shorebirds present, although other birders found Baird’s and Stilt Sandpipers and a few dowitchers earlier in the day.
Turnstones feed like their name describes. Their bills are tapered a bit at the end which allows them to stick it below rocks and turn them over. The Tramway wetlands has no rocks, just mud and trash and debris, so this bird had to make due. I watched it flip over dead leaves and poke into the mud.