2 - Cable-Tie Sight Guide, RUFF and STKI Watches

Illustration by Ronald Sinoo

Click or tap for The Guide!

The Cable-Tie Sight !!!

Yes! Warblering with Your Spotting Scope could be a Normal, Natural, Healthy,
and, Yes - Even Easy, Part of Your Birding Life!

Cable-Tie Sight Information:
Read the Latest Sermon, and Download and View The Guide

Good Source for 11" Releasable Cable-Ties (use two together to go around even the biggest scopes!)

(Rallying and encouraging deprived Georgia birders since 2008)

GEORGIA RUFF WATCH - The Quest - Join Us
(2011 Edition)

Hi All,

Well... er, Yes... It is that time once again... As the first southeastern vagrant RUFF of the season was found yesterday in, eh, Arkansas...  I would like to take this opportunity to unofficially declare that GEORGIA RUFF WATCH 2011 is now opened!!!


The Birders of Georgia should not have to accept, or acquiesce to, the fact that THE RUFF may only be seen, documented, and accepted, in Georgia possibly every, what, 28+ years, on the average, and in the modern RUFF watching era!!!  We also should not accept any recent or forthcoming nearby RUFF sighting, made just over our borders, to be the only RUFF we may ever have the opportunity to observe, and for maybe up to around another 28+ years!  Those birds, while really wonderful, do not count for Georgia!!!

The problem with locating THE RUFF in Georgia is probably mostly one of a lack of adequate birder coverage, by qualified observers, searching in the correct habitat, and habitat conditions, at the right times (see, there is hope). THE RUFF is found almost every year in Florida and the Carolinas!  THE RUFF should be, could be, and probably is, somewhere in Georgia every year, and yes, maybe even as I write this, somewhere in the recesses of say, Altamaha WMA, if the water levels are correct,

THE SOUTHEASTERN VAGRANT RUFF MAY NOW LURK, awaiting discovery by some soon to be famous and revered Georgia birder, and That Birder Could Be YOU!!!

The American Birding Association (ABA) has THE RUFF listed as:
Code-3: Rare. Species that occur in very low numbers, but annually, in the ABA Checklist Area. This includes visitors and rare breeding residents.
THE RUFF is a visitor.

If more qualified and dedicated Georgia RUFF seekers are out in the field, tuned in to THE RUFF, in likely habitat, during likely field conditions, in likely seasons, and in some force every year, then the chances will go Way Up that THE RUFF will be observed sooner, rather than later, in Georgia!!!

Implementing a simple 3-step plan will be all that is needed for more sightings of THE RUFF to be recorded in Georgia, and more often than once every 28+ years!!!


1.  LEARN THE RUFF - Raise your personal awareness of... THE RUFF! Study your field guides, shorebird guides, reference books, and online resources, etc., in order to learn the natural history, distinguishing characteristics, distribution, migration, vagrancy, habitat, food habits, sounds, behavior, breeding, demography and populations, conservation and management, appearance, measurements, and past ABA Checklist Area sighting histories of... THE RUFF.

2.  BE THE RUFF - Based on what you learned in Step 1 surmise where, and when, you would be, in Georgia, if you were... THE SOUTHEASTERN VAGRANT RUFF!!!

3.  SEE THE RUFF - Based on what you learned in Steps 1 and 2, get out there into the field and look for... THE RUFF!!! (and, of course, don't forget to photograph THE RUFF)

If you are new to SHOREBIRDING, it may be best to work on a BUDDY SYSTEM, you don't necessarily want to try this alone at first, as it can be intimidating, humbling, and well it's always best to have each other's support when starting out (but hey, it's much easier than Gulls)!!!

Now let's hone our skills, shorebird, get out there (safety first) and...


And remember, if you see... THE RUFF:
Don't call 911 first, call the Georgia Statewide Rare Bird Alert at 770-493-8862, and then call and email every birder you know (me first hopefully, and then the closest ones to The Ruff next)!!!

Thank You For Your Support!!!


Mark McShane
Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, Georgia

Georgia ShoreBirder-at-Large
Founder and Chief Instigator GEORGIA RUFF WATCH
(Rallying and Encouraging deprived Georgia birders since 2008)
Last accepted Georgia RUFF: 1982

Learn more about THE SOUTHEASTERN VAGRANT RUFF and follow the yearly progress of GEORGIA RUFF WATCH at:

The Southeastern Vagrant RUFF in Florida 3/17-28/09

Annual GRW Results


DATELINE 5/14/2016:

Hi All,

I am very pleased to report that Georgia RUFF Watch is officially standing down as of today!

No longer will Georgia RUFF Watch rally and encourage Georgia shorebirders long deprived of seeing and experiencing The American Birding Association (ABA) Code-3: Rare RUFF in Georgia.

Although of course, if a RUFF is not properly documented in Georgia for another 33 years, starting today, then Georgia RUFF Watch 2049 may be in order and activated by either myself... or by my designated successor!

Happily, I think today though the status code slider indicating the relative abundance of The RUFF, in Georgia, can be moved from Accidental, through Casual, and all the way, yes, to merely Rare, if only based on what has incredibly transpired since 10/28/2015!

The RUFF has been listed as status Accidental by The Georgia Ornithological Society Checklist and Records Committee based on only 4 accepted records between 1960 and 1982.

When the next confirmed RUFF was seen at Onslow Island in October of 2015 it had been 33 years since a confirmed sighting!

2015 and 2016 recent events:

A single RUFF was found on Onslow Island on 10/28/2015.

Two RUFFs were found together on Onslow Island on 11/4/2015.

RUFF sightings (probably a continuing bird) were also made on Onslow Island on 11/11 and 11/18/2015.

On 4/18/2016 a RUFF was found on Tybee Island.

On 4/27/2016 a RUFF was found on Onslow Island.

Today, 5/14/2016, another RUFF was found at the American Proteins Ponds in Forsyth County!

That should be confirmed sightings of at least 5 different RUFFs in Georgia between 10/28/2015 and 5/14/2016!

Georgia RUFF lovers everywhere are finally properly amazed, delighted, and jubilant!

A Hearty Congratulations, and a Big Relieved THANK YOU goes out to all who found The RUFF in Georgia in 2015 and 2016!

Thank You For Your Support and Good ShoreBirding All!!!

2015 - RUFF! RUFF!!


One American Birding Association (ABA) Checklist Code 3 (Rare for North America/ABA Area) Southeastern U.S. Vagrant 5th Georgia record RUFF (will be the first accepted in Georgia in 33 years) is found at the Onslow Island impoundments on the Savannah NWR by Joel Vos with Mary Lou Dickson and eBird reported in the afternoon.

Upon seeing the hourly eBird ABA Rarities, Needs Alert for Georgia, and Georgia Rare Bird Alert emails, the first of which hit my mailbox at 3:04pm, I immediately contacted James Fleullan who now lives, and birds, in the Savannah area.

James was immediately able to run out to nearby Onslow Island to look for the RUFF.

Much to his great surprise and complete astonishment James first finds a HUDSONIAN GODWIT (also will be the 5th accepted Georgia record, and the first seen in Georgia in 15 years).  The Hudsonian needless to say is a pretty big distraction in the search for the RUFF and I am sure that James was hoping to quickly document and photograph the godwit so that he could get on with the search for The RUFF.  James immediately posts the Hudsonian to Georgia Birders Online.  Later in the session Robert Rommel and then James Fleullan relocate the RUFF as well.  James immediately posts the RUFF to Georgia Birders Online.

It is now dusk on the 28th and, to my knowledge, no other birders have been able to get to Onslow to try for the birds that day.  The next refuge access (foot or bicycle travel only, Wednesdays only sunrise to sunset) is 7 days away on 11/4.  No experienced Georgia shorebirders expect for the birds, one or both species, to remain a full 7 days at the site, although of course anything is possible.

This is an epic Georgia birding event.  For Georgia birders, the magnitude of having these two very rare Georgia shorebirds, a HUDSONIAN GODWIT and a RUFF, together, in the same impoundment, in Georgia cannot be overstated.  It is off the charts incredible!  In my limited Georgia birding time since 2007 only having a Georgia first record Ivory Gull together with a Georgia second record Thayer's Gull at West Point Lake in 2010 surpasses this event for two rare species seen together.  For many experienced Georgia birders (Yours Truly included) these are the last two shorebirds needed for their Georgia shorebird checklist to be complete!

What an incredible Georgia birding opportunity to very probably be denied by the very limited site access available due to the almost certain likelihood that one or both of the birds will not be seen again.  A deep wave of lament pushes through the Georgia shorebirding rank and file accompanied by a small glimmer of hope.


In the wee hours of the morning, and in the truest spirit of the chasing of rare birds, seven extremely dedicated Georgia rare bird chasers (Yours Truly included) drive hundreds of miles to approach Savannah NWR U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff very early on the morning of 11/29 to properly, and politely, even benignly, ask permission to enter Onslow Island to look for the birds.  Permission is denied and no birders enter Onslow Island on the 29th.

Throughout the day as the seven mostly forlorn and dismayed birders drive their hundreds of miles back to different home destinations, without sighting a Georgia Hudsonian Godwit or RUFF, they all feel the same pain and frustration, and between the seven teammates missed Georgia rare shorebird commiserating amateur therapy sessions ensue aplenty and for as long as their need be.

They all resolve to go back next Wednesday on 11/4 as possible to try again, although the birds very probably will not be seen on the 4th.  However, they reason, if the birds are seen on the 4th and one did not try again for the birds that day, one risks suffering permanent and irreparable damage to one's Georgia birding psyche of a sort which one shudders to contemplate.


The next Wednesday first one and then TWO RUFFS (along with the Hudsonian) are found in the same impoundment!  Those that could return of the seven (Yours Truly included) are completely astounded, jubilant, and rejoice mightily, as well as do those others who see the birds that morning, all shake their heads with Georgia birding wonder.  It is a miraculous and incredible day in Georgia shorebirding/birding history, a new Georgia RUFF high count (2, the 5th and 6th Georgia record RUFFs) is set, and the Hudsonian Godwit is still there together with the now 2 RUFFs!

Before noon a seemingly non-birder photographer approached the godwit much, much too closely, before anyone could suggest otherwise, and he flushed the bird which immediately departed west high over the Savannah River never to be seen again.  Many birders who later in the day had come from near and far missed the Hudsonian due to the selfishness and hopefully just ignorance of this one photographer.


The next Wednesday, amazingly and much to the delight of at least 35-40 birders, one RUFF (possibly two), sans Hudsonian, is relocated throughout the day!  Amazing!!  How long will one or both of these birds remain at Onslow this season?!!

Will the RUFF(s) remain for another Wednesday for more birders to enjoy?  Already folks have come to Onslow Island from Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Florida, and probably other locales to enjoy the birds.


Amazingly 3 weeks after the first RUFF sighting on 10/28 the smaller Reeve still continues and is relocated through the day!


Neither of the two previously seen RUFFs are relocated on the next Wednesday.

Now that the Savannah NWR Onslow Island site is once again, after long closure, open to birders, even for limited once a week access, will the southeastern U.S. vagrant RUFF become annual or much less casual in Georgia (as it is in nearby South Carolina) than ever before?  Or, will it be 33 more years before another is located in the state?!

Stay tuned as Georgia RUFF Watch 2015 and Beyond continues to find out!

Handheld phonescoped Apple iPhone 5 MOV video clips and still frames shot of the two Georgia RUFFs on 11/4 can be found here:

The 11/4 Georgia Hudsonian Godwit:

Information concerning how to use Apple MOV movie files can be read in my MOV Video File How-To.txt available at:

Some of the video files on the site can be a bit large and may take some minutes to download if you don't have high-speed internet access, but it may be best to download them to your desktop or somewhere on your computer before running them in QuickTime. That way they may run faster and you can keep them if you like them too. Being handheld and usually at a very high magnification they can sometimes get a little jittery, but they are still worth a look, especially since you can drag through frame by frame in QuickTime and pause the video on the best parts, playing at half speed in QuickTime can also be a good idea.
Click or tap on photos for larger views:


2014 - No GA RUFF...

2013 - No GA RUFF...

2012 - No GA RUFF...

2011 - No GA RUFF...

2011 NGR reported RUFFs (by NGR state and post date):

NC - 10/7
FL - 10/3
TN - 8/28
TN - 4/29
AR - 3/21

2010 - No GA RUFF...

2010 - On 9/12 a sighting was made in Gordon County of a very interesting candidate by 5 observers, as the bird was being sorted out, and digiscoping was being set up, the bird flushed; not to be relocated over the next several days. Full access to the private property site for a full search was not available.

2010 NGR reported RUFFs (by NGR state and post date):

FL - 9/14
MS - 4/25

SC - 3/20

2009 - No GA RUFF...

2009 - A Ruff was actually reported by 3 very experienced observers at a sod farm in Bartow County on 9/8 but the initial observers later withdrew their report due to uncertainties presented by photographs later taken of a strangely plumaged Upland Sandpiper so close in time and location to the initial sighting.

2009 NGR reported RUFFs (by NGR state and post date):

NC - 9/21
FL - 9/12
NC - 8/28
SC - 5/12
SC - 4/27
FL - 3/17
SC - 2/21

2008 - The NGR GRW Begins, No GA RUFF...
Since The NGR GRW began birders in surrounding states are finding The Southeastern Vagrant RUFF almost every year ! Logically then The Southeastern Vagrant RUFF should be passing through Georgia maybe even every year !!!

Last RUFF documented in Georgia: 1982


Avian Conservation Center - The Center for Birds of Prey

(2011, from Georgia Birders Online)
NationalAtlas.gov Georgia Counties

Fannin County - 9/6 - Georgia Blue Ridge
Fannin County - 9/3 - Georgia Blue Ridge
Fannin County - 8/29 - Georgia Blue Ridge
Fannin County - 8/27 - Georgia Blue Ridge
Fannin County - 8/26 - Georgia Blue Ridge
Fannin County - 8/25 - Georgia Blue Ridge
Gordon County - 8/25 - Georgia Ridge and Valley
Fannin County - 8/24 - Georgia Blue Ridge
Brooks County - 8/23 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Fannin County - 8/23 - Georgia Blue Ridge
Brooks County - 8/16 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Oconee County - 8/15 - Georgia Piedmont
Hall County - 8/14 - Georgia Piedmont
Hall County - 8/13 - Georgia Piedmont
Brooks County - 8/13 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Hall County - 8/12 - Georgia Piedmont
Henry County - 8/11 - Georgia Piedmont
Brooks County - 8/10 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Lamar County - 8/8 - Georgia Piedmont
White County - 8/7 - Far northern edge of the Georgia Piedmont, southern Blue Ridge
Brooks County - 8/7 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Brooks County - 8/6 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Long County - 7/31 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Long County - 7/30 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Long County - 7/28 - Georgia Coastal Plain
McIntosh County - 7/28 - Georgia Coast
Walton County - 7/23-24 - Georgia Piedmont
Walton County - 7/21 - Georgia Piedmont
Long and Tatnall Counties - 7/19 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Oconee County - 7/17 - First 2011 Georgia Piedmont sighting
Valdosta - 7/9 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Lowndes County - 6/19 - Georgia Coastal Plain
Effingham County - 6/15 - Georgia Coastal Plain

Archived Georgia Swallow-tailed Kite Watches

Communal Roosts of the American Swallow-tailed Kite in Florida:

GA Swallow-tailed Kites Foraging