Red Phalarope at Bald Knob, Allegheny County
This Red Phalarope in basic plumage was discovered at a water retention pond at the new light industrial complex at Bald
Knob, the same location where two Ross's Geese
appeared almost one year ago to the day (28 Feb 2011). The bird fed in typcial phalarope fashion for the entire hour of last
daylight, spinning frenetically about the pond's edge, and was still there as it became too dark to see. It represents the
third definitive record for the Imperial Grasslands area, and the fourth for Allegheny County. Previous county records include
9 birds at the Pittsburgh Point in November 1983, one at the grasslands in October 1995, and one again at the grasslands in
. The much discussed "Fran Falarope", a bird discovered at Bald Knob during the passage of Hurricane Fran in October 1996
was also likely a Red Phalarope, but definitive agreement on the photos of this bird has never been obtained.
The combination of low light, high wind, and the constant action of the bird made photography excessively difficult,
and only a few acceptably sharp frames were obtained. I chose not to use flash on the off chance that a flash from short range
might startle the bird. All of my experience with phalaropes tells me that using a flash would have been just fine, but the
occasion of the county's third Red Phalarope in nearly 20 years is not the time to be experimenting with field techniques!
Note the yellowish base to the bill, which itself is relatively short and quite thick, very much different than the similar
. A superb February record for the Pittsburgh area!
|Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L + 1.4x TC III, 1/160 sec. at f/5.6 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod
|Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L, 1/200 sec. at f/4 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod