Like the Spotted Sandpiper, the Black-bellied Plover gets its name from its breeding plumage. The remaining eight months of the year, its breast is gray and the belly is white, as here. We’re unlikely ever to see their dramatic breeding dress here. They do their breeding in the Arctic, higher up than any other species, in a ring that stretches from far northern Alaska across Canada and Russia. They think nothing of flying for the winter to Argentina and Chile in the Americas, or to South Africa and Australia. This bird was the only one of its kind here, foraging on the low tide mudflats along with Marbled Godwits, a couple of Long-billed Curlews, a Willet, and the frequently seen Snowy Egrets. With its stubby bill, this bird needs to find its meal on or very near the surface. However, it isn’t limited to daylight; it has excellent night vision and can feed when little worms and crabs carelessly come to the surface in darkness.
I haven’t seen one of these for more than five years; see “A Walk in the Meadow” Feb. 20 2016. Long time.