As luck would have it, rock worm have been having a field day with the Monadnock Paper Mill dam on the Contoocook River. This dam is responsible for creating Powder Mill Pond, which is a fine pond for birding under normal circumstances. But for the second fall in five years, the pond has been drained to facilitate repairs to the dam, providing ideal habitat for a whole new cast of characters – shorebirds.
The Monadnock Region is flyover country for shorebirds that commute between the Arctic and various points in the tropics and/or the southern hemisphere. Flying south at altitudes of up to several thousand feet, we can’t see them, but they can see well enough to spot a new mudflat. To a shorebird, its like putting out the suet for woodpeckers, and you don’t have to wait long.
The last drawdown happened during late July and August of 2011, when 13 varieties of shorebirds took advantage of the ephemeral habitat, including rare inland occurrences of white-rumped sandpiper, short-billed dowitcher, sanderling, and ruddy turnstone. So far this year, nine different species have stopped in, including a repeat occurrence of white-rumped sandpiper and a pair of rare Baird’s sandpiper.