August 25, 2016. Eastport Dr, Hamilton, ON. I enjoyed watching three Red-necked Phalaropes today; they easily pushed a Lesser Scaup, some Ruddy Ducks and a distant telescope view of a Stilt Sandpiper aside to be my Birds of the Day.
There are only three phalarope species in the world: Red, Red-necked and Wilson’s. The first two breed in the Arctic latitudes of Eurasia and North America, while the Wilson’s breeds across the central and north plains of North America. All spend the winter in equatorial regions. Red Phalaropes are rarely seen inland but the other two make regular but often-overlooked appearances in Ontario; for that I count us lucky because, as I’ve noted before, pharalopes are in the fine china category of shorebirds.
There is something very compelling about phalaropes. They are shorebirds, but unlike most of their relatives they swim rather than parade, pick and poke along the waters-edge. And then there’s the name – phalarope; a touch aristocratic sounding like pharaoh. But my handy authority on bird names says it’s from the Greek “…. phalaris, “ a coot”: Gr. pous, “foot”; hence “coot-footed” for the lobes on the toes like the foot of a coot.” Oh well, maybe not so aristocratic.
There were reportedly six or maybe eight of them in a large enclosed pond adjacent to the nearby industrial harbour. When I showed up most of them were out of sight, sheltered behind a large pile of earth and debris but I managed to get one or two passable shots. Here’s the best of them.