American Birding Podcast



#ABArare – Wilson’s Plover – Washington

Mike and MerryLynn Denny discovered a surprising state-first Wilson’s Plover at Bennington Lake, east of Walla Walla, Washington, on August 26. There are West Coast records from California and Oregon, but what makes this sighting most surprising is that it was not on the coast but instead from an inland lake east of the Cascades.

ABArare Wilson's Plover WAphoto by Mike and MerryLynn Denny

Mike Denny writes, “At about 9:45 AM on 26 August my wife MerryLynn and I came across a 115-foot long mud beach cove along the eastern shore of Bennington Lake in eastern Walla Walla County, Washington. There was a mix of shorebirds, two Solitary Sandpipers, a Lesser Yellowlegs, several Western Sandpipers and a couple of Killdeer.

“We soon picked out a small plover about 60 feet away that was rapidly feeding in an erratic method. It was running after flies and other insects while cutting 90-degree turns. It came closer and closer and soon we saw that it was not a plover species we had ever seen in Washington State. It had a long bulky black bill and was overall very pale dorsally. The leg color did not fit any of the expected small plovers. Then it dawned on us that we were looking at a Wilson’s Plover. A Washington State first. We started taking photos and the plover just kept getting closer. What an unexpected find on a warm summer morning.”

Mike and MerryLynn and others kept tabs on the plover throughout the day and provided updates to Tweeters, the state-wide email group. It was seen in the same general area, the southeast shore of the lake, at least as late as 6:40 PM.