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Red Phalarope -- February 24, 2012

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 September 2005. 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 Red-necked Phalarope. 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

Unless explicitly indicated otherwise in the photo caption, all photos on this website were taken by and are 2003-2013 by Geoff Malosh. Unauthorized usage of these photographs for any purpose is strictly forbidden. If you are interested in using any photo for publication or if you are interested in obtaining a print, contact me at pomarine -AT- earthlink -DOT- net.