Wind Blown Red-Necked Phalarope

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Another great day in one of my favorite South Dakota Wetlands, albeit an extremely windy one. I returned Sunday to the spot I previously shot the American Avocet videos and photos & was pleasantly surprised to find a pair of Red-Necked Phalaropes. If you know my history you know I was a photographer first and have gradually (ha, just kidding) become fascinated with learning more about bird species, life, and behaviors - and spoken like a true birder - this is a life bird for me. I have taken many photos of their close relatives, the Wilsons Phalarope, but have never had the chance to see the Red-Necked Variety. And yes if you follow my facebook this is why I ended up knee deep in a sinking mudflat. But mother nature paid back in spades, whatever that means.

My initial intention on the hike was to capture some terns that had congregated in the area (photos coming later of them) but once I spotted this male and female phalarope I took my position about 300 yards down the shore and let the group of sandpipers that they were with work slowly toward me. Nearing 3 hours in they had worked their way close enough to begin my shoot and to my surprise, they decided to take a short break from feeding to preen their wet and windblown feathers at 15 yards away.

I would normally archive a video taken in this much wind due to the noise but the fact that each time the Male Phalarope decides to preen he gets blown away seemed to tie the entire movie together and is a testament to this crazy South Dakota wind I live in. He was often blow off the screen and would wander back, so I had to edit some of the clip to keep him in place.

Enjoy, and as they should be mentioned - no less entertaining were the white-rumped sandpipers that surround them, there was a flock of about 50 of them working up and down the shore throughout the day. Thanks to my Friend Kelly for helping me with the Sandpiper identification as I still learn shorebirds. check out her site as well at


Bill Van der Hagen

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