Finally, after over 25 years of scoping out hundreds of thousands of yellowlegs, I finally got my first North American sighting of a Ruff. This morning I joined two other PA at 9:45am just across the border in NJ to look for a blonde Ruff found last weekend in the marsh/mutflats off the railroad tracks at High Hill Rd. Within half an hour, we had the bird in the scope, but it was over 100 yards out. We watched it for over 20 minutes before the birds flew and we lost it. About 11:15 we saw it again, a bit farther out. After a few minutes it disappeared again. Finally, about 11:30 I briefly saw it land and immediately take off again with a flock of yellowlegs, and all the shorebirds in the marsh took off heading east and landing over a mile away, way out of sight.
Most birders have a jinx bird or two, birds that they should have seen long ago, but for some inexplicable reason, they just haven't run into. Growing up in Oregon, I'd missed Ruff a couple times by a few hours. Living in Texas, no Ruffs showed up at Hornsby Bend in all my years birding there, though three had been seen there during the previous ten years, and I never managed to chase one on the Texas coast.
The Mid Atlantic states used to be Ruff central for the Lower 48, though in recent years, there don't seem to have been as many reported as in decades past. At any rate, at long last, I've connected with a Ruff on this side of the Atlantic. Below is a picture of the bird we saw today, taken by the bird's original finder, Dave Magpiong. Check out his great website, Fledgingbirders.org dedicated to getting new folks interested in birds and birding. Take a moment to check out Winged Wonders, his birding and nature blog at the Courier Post Online, including a post about finding the Ruff.
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