On January 31st 2018, skygazers were treated to a rare spectacle. The super, blue, blood moon came about when a number of circumstances coincided. Our satellite was at a very close approach, appearing larger in the sky (the super bit), it was the second full moon of the month (known as a blue moon) and it passed through The Earth’s shadow which cast a red colour across its face (the blood bit).
I was in Los Angeles for the event and after an early start the next morning, watched the desanguinated moon drop to the horizon as I waved my binoculars across Newport Upper Bay, Orange County. I noted a couple of odd things today and with the supermoon still fresh in my thoughts, the fancy took me that it was influencing bird behaviour. As an example, today was the first time that I had experienced one-legged flight.
Whimbrels, Willets and Marbled Godwits had been roosting across the bay and had been pushed off their sandbar by the rising tide. By a stroke of luck, I was positioned on the opposite bank, just where they they chose to relocate to. They came in ones and twos, giving me the perfect view as they came into land. I noticed that a godwit landed on just one leg and bounced a couple of times to retain balance.
It was shortly followed by a Willet doing the same thing. They clearly had two legs each, but were opting to use just one.
They had flown across the estuary trailing only one leg and then landed without bothering to deploy the rest of their undercarriage.
The birds then hopped off to get back to the serious business of roosting the high tide away, again on one leg.
This was not behaviour that I had noticed before, so when a third bird made a unipedal landing, I began to think that something was afoot.
These birds were roosting as the supermoon set in the early morning and it coincided with a high tide which kept them on the roost through the morning. As the tide pushed higher, they were dislodged and had to find higher ground. A group of 5 birds approached. The photo shows that 3 of them are flying single-leggedly.