American Golden Plover – Denali National Park, Alaska: It was one of the beautiful days I had ever experienced in Alaska. As I hiked across the tundra of Thoroughfare Pass in Denali National Park wildlife was abundant. A small group of bull Caribou crossed a ridge in the distances as Lapland longspurs flitted from one bush to another gathering insects, mostly mosquitoes, and Long-tailed Jaegers sailed over the tundra in search for their next meal. As I watched the jaegers one dipped into the low vegetation and plucked a nestling songbird from its nest. It was quite an amazing site to see, and reminded me that I am the interloper in a wildland that belongs to the wildlife.
As the Jaeger flew off with its prey an American Golden Plover appeared on a rise behind me and spoke its “Klee-u” call alerting me to its presence. Turning to the plover I quickly set my tripod on the ground, aimed and began shooting. A few moments later the plover flew off and joined a mate, then disappeared over a nearby ridge.
This is the only photo I have ever taken of an American Golden Plover in breeding plumage and from the photograph you can see how it gets its name. With its golden back, black face, white facial ring and bib it is truly one of the most beautiful shorebirds in the Americas.