To some folks, counting peeps is just like counting sheep. The drab little birds all look the same and may put you to sleep soon enough. With time and patience you might one day realize that one of these birds is not like the other, the black sheep so to speak; although, the contrast might not be as obvious. But the reward is great for those who seek the hidden treasures of Quivira, in spite of the dust devils, scorching heat, and nearly bone-dry wetlands.
A recent thread on the KSBIRD Listserv discussed a possible sighting of a Red-necked Stint at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. The Red-necked Stint is a Eurasian species and rare breeder in western Alaska according to The Shorebird Guide. In the spring, Red-necked Stints are an accidental species, most likely to be found along the Pacific coast. Thus, the presence of a stint at this particular time and location seems to defy all odds; it has never been recorded in Kansas before.
The bird, first observed July 1, was described as a “breeding adult plumage Red-necked Stint at the northeast corner of the Little Salt Marsh, just southeast of the main outlet.” The stint was resighted and photographed on July 2 and the birding experts agree with the species’ identity. Scott Seltman writes, “Over the last 20 years I have made quite a few quick drives to Quivira or Cheyenne Bottoms to check out stint reports. All of those trips ended in either no-bird or transitional-plumage Sanderling. That was NOT my impression of the bird yesterday, in fact at no point was I thinking Sanderling! In direct comparisons, the bird in question was larger than a Least but very similar in size to Western/Semi Sands.” The Red-necked Stint has a rusty red neck, bordered by dark spot and pure white underparts.
The stint was still present when I arrived yesterday evening; visitors from as far as Illinois and New York were among the crowd of people with spotting scopes and binoculars fixed on the star attraction of Little Salt Marsh. A few photos have been posted on the Recent Bird Sightings page for Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.