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#ABArare – Lesser Sand-Plover – NW Indiana

A juvenile Lesser Sand-Plover was found late this morning by Brendan Grube near the lighthouse at Michigan City, IN (just SW of the MI state line, on Lake Michigan).

Lesser Sand-Plover at Michigan City, IN on 15 October 2013. Photo (c) Michael L. P. Retter.

Lesser Sand-Plover at Michigan City, IN on 15 October 2013. Photo (c) Michael L. P. Retter.

It was seen throughout the afternoon by a number of birders before it flew west over the water and out of sight about 17:55 CDT, just before sunset. It disappeared at least one other time over the course of the day, though, only to be relocated. It was spending most of its time on the outer breakwater and on the beach at the eastern base of the lighthouse breakwater. This area is in Washington Park; for directions, click here. Note that as beach season has ended, there is no parking fee at this time.

Incidentally, a “Kelp Gull thing” was also present in the late afternoon, loafing on the beach with other gulls. Some speculate that it’s the same bird which has been wintering in the area over the last decade. Or maybe it’s not. *shrug*

There are very few inland North American records of Lesser Sand-Plover, and this is a first for Indiana if not the entire Midwest.

Many birders will remember when this species was called Mongolian Plover. In fact, it may be again one day. There is a movement to split Lesser Sand-Plover into two species. If that happened, we would again have a Mongolian Plover, or perhaps a Mongolian Sand-Plover.

UPDATE  (22 Oct 2013) — The bird, not seen 16–20 October, was relocated 21 October ~13:00 CDT by Jeff McCoy. The bird was at Long Lake, just east of Gary, IN. Map here.  This is on the south side of the West Beach portion of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The bird was located toward the east end of the lake with a flock of Killdeer. Here’s a photo from John Kendall. As of 14:17 CDT, per Ken Brock, “It is now located directly south of the viewing platform, where is is loosely associating with Killdeer. The water in Long Lake is very low and most of the lake floor is choked with low vegetation; consequently, the bird is frustratingly difficult to find.” Nathan Goldberg reported the bird still present at sunset.

As of 10:57 CDT, the bird had not been relocated on Tuesday 22 October.

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Michael Retter
Michael L. P. Retter is the editor of the ABA's newest magazine, Birder's Guide, and the author of The ABA Field Guide to Birds of Illinois. When not at home gardening, Michael is often leading tours for BRANT Nature Tours in Middle America (Mexico through Panama). He currently lives with his husband, Matt, in Fort Worth, Texas. Michael also runs QBNA, the continent's informal club for LGBTQ+ birders. A former chair of the Indiana records committee, he is an eBird reviewer for Mexico, Illinois, and Indiana.
Michael Retter

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