Monday, August 22, 2016

Bombay Hook 8/20--Black-necked Stilt, Marbled Godwit

American Avocets, Bombay Hook
At least once a year, Shari & I like to make a trip to Delaware to bird Bombay Hook & Prime Hook. This year we had the added pleasure of Bob Auster's company. We had extolled the great birding at the two hooks to him so much that I was afraid they, like Whitesbog, might not live up to our descriptions but they both fulfilled our expectations.

We weren't at Bombay Hook more than 15 minutes before we came upon two huge flocks of American Avocets feeding in Raymond Pool. In New Jersey, if there are a few avocets in one spot, birders come running from miles around. At Bombay Hook, they're as common as Semipalmated Sandpipers are at Brig. It was great fun to watch the avocets feed, moving together in a large oval, swishing their bills in the water to find little fish.

We went around the 3 main pools--Raymond, Shearness, & Bear Swamp--& had lunch near Finis Pool. Then we did it again. At our 2nd look at Shearness there was a large flock of shorebirds, terns, geese, you name it, out on a sand bar and indefatigable Bob was determined to check out every bird searching for his target bird of the trip. After a while he yelled out "Stilt!" and I came running up the road. In his scope he had found his lifer Black-necked Stilt.  It is so much more rewarding to find a lifer on your own. Black-necked Stilts are not rare in the Delaware impoundments, but you don't find huge flocks of them as you do avocets, and it is easy to miss the bird. The next day, in the same place, Bob & I saw what we took for another avocet, only to have Shari point out that it was indeed a stilt, probably the same one as the previous day's. Too bad both times the bird was too far away for photography.

On our second trip around Raymond Pool the avocets had moved closer (see above) and there were a couple of birders there who were looking at each & every sandpiper (and there were thousands) trying to tease out a Western Sandpiper. Or White-rumped Sandpiper. These are birds I've seen this year and this month, and while I'm always happy to build up the trip list, the lighting and the distance wasn't going to give me a satisfying look even if one was found.

Now, Marbled Godwits are a different story. Marbled Godwits are big. And there were two  of them in among the avocets. I no more than plunked down my scope and found them. Again, a little too far for photography, but great bird nonetheless. (Now, if I only get them for Ocean County this year.)

On Sunday we drove down to Prime Hook and along Prime Hook Beach Road we had a fantastic amount of birds, including at least 6 White Ibis, another Marbled Godwit, Black Skimmers and Ruddy Turnstones. Prime Hook itself didn't have much in the way of shorebirds, but we did pick up Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting. Fowler Beach Road was closed; it seems a lot of work is being done to the weather damaged roads and for reasons I don't understand, that has moved the water around so that some impoundments, like Broadkill Marsh, are very dry, while others, like along Prime Hook Beach Road, have more water than they usually do.

Water got in the way of our next stop. Shari & I like to go to the DuPont Nature Center in Mispillion--it is where we get her oystercatchers. There is a sign at the beginning of the road that says "WATER ON ROAD" and usually there are a few puddles. But this time there was no distinction between the bay and road and after we watched a couple of cars go through the water up to their wheel wells we decided not to risk it.

We worked our way north and made another trip around Bombay Hook. The skies were getting grayer and grayer and the weather cooling considerably. I kind of pushed us along hoping to make the circuit of the three main pools before the rain started and we timed it just about perfectly, as the skies opened up just as we returned to the visitor's center. It did not, however, make for a very pleasant ride back to New Jersey with returning Delaware shore traffic and torrential rain all the way up to our house.

For the weekend we had 75 species, not bad considering we did little in the way of passerine searching.
Species                First Sighting
Canada Goose   Bombay Hook NWR
American Black Duck   Bombay Hook NWR
Mallard   Bombay Hook NWR
Blue-winged Teal   Bombay Hook NWR
Northern Shoveler   Bombay Hook NWR
Pied-billed Grebe   Bombay Hook NWR
Double-crested Cormorant   Bombay Hook NWR
Great Blue Heron   Bombay Hook NWR
Great Egret   Bombay Hook NWR
Snowy Egret   Bombay Hook NWR
Little Blue Heron   Bombay Hook NWR
Tricolored Heron   Bombay Hook NWR
Black-crowned Night-Heron   Bombay Hook NWR
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron   Bombay Hook NWR
White Ibis   Prime Hook NWR
Glossy Ibis   Bombay Hook NWR
Black Vulture   Bombay Hook NWR
Turkey Vulture   Bombay Hook NWR
Osprey   Bombay Hook NWR
Cooper's Hawk   Frederica
Bald Eagle   Bombay Hook NWR
Red-tailed Hawk   Bombay Hook NWR
Clapper Rail   Bombay Hook NWR
Black-necked Stilt   Bombay Hook NWR
American Avocet   Bombay Hook NWR
Black-bellied Plover   Bombay Hook NWR
Semipalmated Plover   Bombay Hook NWR
Killdeer   Bombay Hook NWR
Marbled Godwit   Bombay Hook NWR
Ruddy Turnstone   Prime Hook NWR
Sanderling   Ted Harvey WMA
Dunlin   Bombay Hook NWR
Least Sandpiper   Bombay Hook NWR
Semipalmated Sandpiper   Bombay Hook NWR
Short-billed Dowitcher   Bombay Hook NWR
Greater Yellowlegs   Bombay Hook NWR
Lesser Yellowlegs   Bombay Hook NWR
Laughing Gull   Bombay Hook NWR
Herring Gull   Bombay Hook NWR
Least Tern   Bombay Hook NWR
Caspian Tern   Bombay Hook NWR
Forster's Tern   Bombay Hook NWR
Royal Tern   Bombay Hook NWR
Black Skimmer   Prime Hook NWR
Mourning Dove   Prime Hook NWR
Belted Kingfisher   Prime Hook NWR
Downy Woodpecker   Bombay Hook NWR
Eastern Wood-Pewee   Bombay Hook NWR
Eastern Phoebe   Prime Hook NWR
Great Crested Flycatcher   Prime Hook NWR
Eastern Kingbird   Bombay Hook NWR
White-eyed Vireo   Prime Hook NWR
Red-eyed Vireo   Bombay Hook NWR
Blue Jay   Bombay Hook NWR
Fish Crow   Prime Hook NWR
Horned Lark   Whitehall Crossroads - Leipsic
Tree Swallow   Bombay Hook NWR
Barn Swallow   Bombay Hook NWR
Carolina Chickadee   Prime Hook NWR
Tufted Titmouse   Prime Hook NWR
White-breasted Nuthatch   Prime Hook NWR
Carolina Wren   Bombay Hook NWR
Gray Catbird   Bombay Hook NWR
European Starling   Prime Hook NWR
Seaside Sparrow   Bombay Hook NWR
Field Sparrow   Bombay Hook NWR
Eastern Towhee   Bombay Hook NWR
Blue Grosbeak   Prime Hook NWR
Indigo Bunting   Prime Hook NWR
Red-winged Blackbird   Prime Hook NWR
Eastern Meadowlark   Bombay Hook NWR
Brown-headed Cowbird   Bombay Hook NWR
House Finch   Prime Hook NWR
American Goldfinch   Bombay Hook NWR
House Sparrow   Bombay Hook NWR
Bald Eagle, Bombay Hook

IBSP Winter Anchorage 8/19--Reddish Egret

It was in the early innings of a Blue Claws game on Wednesday that I got an email from Greg with the header "what do you think this is?" Once the picture opened up I saw a beautiful photo of a dark egret. A very gray egret. An egret that isn't usually in NJ. I looked at my Audubon app. The Blue Claws scored the only run of the game. I wrote back that my first reaction was that it was juvenile Reddish Egret. Greg wrote back, "good reaction. it's my call too." He had found the bird that afternoon canoeing around Great Sedge Island off Island Beach State Park. You should read his story and look at his gorgeous photos here.

4 years ago there was a Reddish Egret, juvenile, at Brig that Shari & I rushed down to see it. It only stayed at Brig for 2 days, but, presumably the same bird, was found a week later by kayaking birder off Great Sedge Island. Every time Greg and I have gone out there over the last 3 years, I have said to him, "Y'know, there once was a Reddish Egret out here." I was thrilled that he had found it, but crestfallen that I wasn't with him, since it would have been a great county bird. Over the next couple of days a veritable flotilla of kayaks and canoe went out to see the bird, but, though Greg offered a ride on the next day, I couldn't go because of family commitments. On Friday, when Bob & I were birding Brig I got a text alert that the bird was viewable from the boat launch of the Winter Anchorage. That's when I said, "Bob, we should go to Island Beach." 

From Brig to Island Beach is about an hour's ride, up the parkway and across 37. We had no idea what the traffic was going to be on a Friday afternoon and we had no idea what the tide schedule was but even with these factors potentially working against us, we still thought we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see this bird in NJ. Traffic wasn't bad and whatever the tide was in Barnegat Bay there was enough of a sandbar across from the bar launch to hold a lot of birds. 

But the light was terrible, backlighting the birds.  Slowly, Bob & I began scanning the birds. We could tell a lot of birds just by silhouette. An oystercatcher is pretty obvious. Some birds had enough front lighting on them to tell what kind of plovers they were. A Brown Pelican is hard to miss. But all the egrets looked dark. Bob was showing me some oystercatchers in his scope when I said, "And what is that egret?" It was dark, but it didn't have the same impression as the other egrets we could see near the edges of the marsh. 

And then it started to dance.  Reddish Egrets have a unique way of feeding. They raise their wings, lift their feet, stir up the water, run to one place, spin around, raise their wings. They look like they've gone crazy. This bird looked crazy. This bird was the Reddish Egret. Just as you can tell a Spotted Sandpiper by its "twerking," or a phoebe by its flipping tail. it was pretty easy to identify this egret once it started hunting. 

So two year birds for us that day and we didn't even have to get our feet wet for the second one. 

Brig 8/19--Baird's Sandpiper

Bob Auster & I careened around 3 counties on Friday, starting at Whitesbog in Burlington, then down to Brig in Atlantic and up to Ocean late in the day. Whitesbog was something of a disappointment considering it was Bob's first trip there. The shorebirds have thinned out since the start of the month and the most interesting bird, by far, that we had was a flyover Common Nighthawk that Bob first saw and that flew right over our heads. Best look at one I've had this year and rare to find one hunting in mid-morning.

We were thinking of going up north to survey the sod farms but instead opted for Brig. You can't go wrong at Brig, while on the sod farms you might find something cool or, more likely, you'll see a lot of sod & dirt.  Bob said we were going to find a good bird there, he felt it. The tide was in-betweenish and there were good numbers of sandpipers on the outside channel along the south dike, while inside the dike it seemed especially dry. About 500 feet before the observation tower we stopped to scan some sandpipers feeding in the sparse grass that was growing in the mud and Bob got interested in one bird. Bob has way more patience than I do when it comes to scanning. Well, almost everyone has way more patience than I do when it comes to anything, but that notwithstanding, Bob kept looking and looking at a small flock of birds until he pronounced one "different." And it was: bigger than the other sandpipers, more horizontal & tapered, with a buffy breast and browner head than the nearby semis. It was, after some dithering by us, a Baird's Sandpiper, a bird that, for the most part, migrates south down the Central Flyway, while only a relative few juveniles go off course and appear on the east coast. The bird was much too far and feeding too actively for me to get a photo. I doubt I'd have had the nerve to call this bird on my own; I doubt I'd have seen it if it wasn't for Bob. But, a Baird's it was, an elusive bird that somehow disappeared into the fleawort.

We continued birding, getting the usual shorebirds and were on the north dike, scanning a large flock of terns and gulls when I got a text alert. "Bob," I said, "We should go to Island Beach." That story is posted above this one.

Our list for Brig, aborted 3/4 of the way around:
38 species
Canada Goose  50
Mute Swan  3
Wood Duck  4
Mallard  5
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  25
Snowy Egret  10
Tricolored Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
Glossy Ibis  15
Osprey  15
Bald Eagle  1
Black-bellied Plover  2
Semipalmated Plover  500
Stilt Sandpiper  2
Baird's Sandpiper  1     South dike in grassy area. 
Pectoral Sandpiper  1
Semipalmated Sandpiper  500
Short-billed Dowitcher  50
Greater Yellowlegs  5
Laughing Gull  200
Herring Gull  100
Great Black-backed Gull  25
Least Tern  15
Caspian Tern  2
Forster's Tern  20
Black Skimmer  4
Mourning Dove  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Kingbird  3
American Crow  1
Fish Crow  15
Tree Swallow  1
European Starling  10
Red-winged Blackbird  25
House Finch  2     Heard
American Goldfinch  1     Heard

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cloverdale Farm 8/17--Olive-sided Flycatcher

I have pretty much spent this month at Whitesbog, circling the bogs almost every morning, looking for the rarities that pop in there. So far, aside from a large number of Short-billed Dowitchers (rare in Burlington, no big deal in Ocean) and a juvenile White Ibis (rare anytime in NJ) it has been the expected birds. Oh yeah, there was the Stilt Sandpiper early on.

I started the day there again and didn't see anything new other than the first Northern Waterthrush in a few months back around Union Pond. I left relatively early to have lunch in Toms River with Shari, then decided to head down to Cloverdale Farm. An Olive-sided Flycatcher had been reported there late yesterday afternoon. Last night Shari asked me if I was going to try to find it and I said no, it was a low percentage attempt. On the other hand, if you don't go, it is a NO percentage quest. (This, by the way, is the logic that lottery commissions use to sucker you into buying a ticket--ya gotta be in it to win it. Except with birds you only lose time.)

In any case, I hadn't been there in a long time, so with low expectations, it being the middle of the day, I arrived around 12:30. Another cool bird that has nested there is Red-headed Woodpecker. I hadn't seen one there, yet, but never looked very hard because I've "had" them a number of times at Colliers Mills. I looked again, perfunctorily, where they had been reported and didn't see one.

The flycatcher had been reported from marker #14. I wasn't exactly sure where that marker was, but, providentially, decided to walk the trail backwards, starting at the entrance gate (where the RHWO had nested) and was surprised to find the first (last) marker I came to was 14. I was also surprised to find a beautiful Red-headed Woodpecker perched on a dead branch.

The bird flew off to the left and landed on another branch where I saw another bird, all gray. My first impression was that it was a juvenile woodpecker, but then I saw it's "unbuttoned vest" and realized very quickly that it was the Olive-sided Flycatcher! The bird flew to another bare branch but before I could get a shot it flew again toward a pine tree. It rested there for a few moments, with just enough branches in the way so that the camera focused on them instead of the bird, then disappeared deeper into the woods. Year bird and county life bird. Bird of the day (day #230). Pretty good results for "what the hell, let's give it a shot."

15 species
Great Blue Heron  1
Herring Gull  1     f/o
Mourning Dove  15
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-headed Woodpecker  1     First bog at entrance.
Olive-sided Flycatcher  1    
Eastern Wood-Pewee  3     Heard
Carolina Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  1     Heard
Eastern Bluebird  2
Chipping Sparrow  2
House Finch  6
American Goldfinch  2     Heard

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Armchair Birds

California Scrub-Jay, Bodega Bay, California
Photo: Shari Zirlin
Every summer the American Ornithologist Union (AOU) revises its checklist, changing the taxonomical order of birds, revising nomenclature, placing birds or replacing birds in different families, but most importantly, to listers, splitting and lumping species.

Since "species" is a slippery definition, it isn't often clear if birds that look very much alike are sub-species of one another or actually different species altogether, or, the opposite, if birds that look different are actually the same species. A the dictionary definition of species, an animal that mates with another of the same species to produce offspring that in turn are able to reproduce, isn't really applicable in many cases. Many birds hybridize and their progeny are capable of reproduction--otherwise there wouldn't be any backcrosses to drive birders nuts. Every dabbling duck you see probably has some Mallard in it. With DNA now playing the major role in determining what is and isn't a species, and with lots of Ph. D candidates looking for a thesis, every year produces "new" species and every year birds get lost. The cool thing is to get an "armchair bird" on your list, one where a bird you have already seen suddenly becomes a different species, which is why it pays to pay attention to sub-species.

I haven't traveled enough to have this happen to me very often. The only example I can think of up 'til this year  is whip-poor-will. When we first heard the Eastern Whip-poor-will in our backyard I was excited because I thought it was a new state bird. We'd heard whip-poor-will in Arizona, years before. But when I went to enter the bird in eBird I saw that sometime since our trip to Arizona, whip-poor-wills in the west had become Mexican Whip-poor-wills, so not only was the whip whooping away dementedly in our backyard a state bird, it was also a lifer.

So I was pleased to read, this summer, that the Western Scrub-Jays we had seen in California and the Western Scrub-Jays we had seen in New Mexico, were, based on arcane DNA analysis, actually two species, the former California Scrub-Jay and the latter Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay. Nice, I thought, number 778 on the list.

American Coot, Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island
But the AOU giveth and the AOU taketh away. Looking at my list after the taxonomical changes had been made by eBird (an arduous 3 day process to change literally millions of records) I saw that my life list total hadn't risen by one. Further investigation into the "losses" section of the AOU list, I was dismayed to find that the experts had determined the Caribbean Coots we'd seen many times in Puerto Rico were nothing but American Coots with white (instead of red) facial shields.

And for all I (or according to one theory I've read, ornithologists) know, the Eurasian Coots we saw in France are also the same species but since they don't migrate and the populations are isolated from one another we'll never know if they could mate with it each other in the wild. Isolation supposedly leads to speciation--but not necessarily.

So my life list stays at 777--I'm lucky it's that number because there was a lot of speculation that Hoary Redpoll was just a sub-species of Common Redpoll (their DNA supposedly matches in the high 90's) and would be lumped. Considering that I went to Minnesota and froze my ass off to get that bird it would be a big disappointment to find out that it was "just" a Common Redpoll in the end.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Brig 8/6--Pectoral Sandpiper

American Avocet
After 5 trips in 4 days to Whitesbog, I shifted my birding south, first to Cape May and Brig with Mike on Friday, then another 3 trips around Brig today with Mike's & Pete's semi-monthly field trip.

Yesterday, I arose at an ungodly hour so that Mike & I could get down to Cape May early enough to make the birding worthwhile (and beat the summer traffic). Our quest to find a Roseate Tern somewhere on the beaches was unfruitful. One of the few birds in NJ that would be a lifer for me that continues to elude me. After a walk around the state park (where we tallied well over 50 species, barely trying) we headed up to Brig. In both Cape May and Brig we gathered more data to prove Zirlin's Law of Birding which roughly states that "If a guy in a pick up truck stops to ask you about birds it is only because he wants to tell you about 'Eagles I Have Seen.'" While we were going up the Coral Ave dune crossing in Cape May a guy stopped us (seeing our scopes) and told us about how if we went to "the bird place" (we'd know where it was) we could see the eagles nesting. There are no eagles nesting in Cape May and he more than likely meant Ospreys but we let him go on. As our informant walked down the steps, Mike was just about to ask me if I thought he owned a pick up truck when I saw the guy get into a big red one parked across the street. Then, at Brig, while we were showing a Clapper Rail with its chicks to a couple of very enthusiastic new birders, a woman with a howitzer of a camera cradled in her arms, jumped out of a white pick-up truck, confessed she knew nothing about shorebirds, though raptors were her thing, and went into a disquisition about the eagles nest in the cell tower near where she lived and how amazing it was--Mike & I knew she was talking about the cell tower on Hooper Avenue in Toms River. More proof. No longer a hypothesis, no longer a theory, it is now an unalterable law of birding: pick up trucks lead to boring stories about eagles.

Today, I got to Brig early enough to do a solo trip around the impoundments before the official trip began. I was picking up all the usual birds, happy to hear a Blue Grosbeak, see 6 Black-crowned Night-Herons, and find a Caspian Tern on a mud bank, when, on the north dike, I saw the familiar vehicle of a very good birder who I know and caught up to him. I was just about to ask him what birds I missed when he back up, gestured to the pool and said, "You saw the avocet, right?" Actually, no, I hadn't, but I hadn't looked that hard. I would say it was 50/50 that I would have found the bird on my own. Still, it was fine to have one for the day. Unfortunately, it didn't stay for the group and only Jason and I recorded it for the day.

For the group's trip we found most of the interesting birds on the south dike, a deviation from the norm. The two most interesting birds to me were my FOY Pectoral Sandpiper (I had been looking for this bird at Whitesbog all week) and a decent look at a White-rumped Sandpiper (diagnostic crossing wings at the rear) which I used as my Bird A Day listing. I figure, now, that I have decent chance to finish out the month for BAD and then, unless there is an amazing influx of birds in September, will run out of birds.
My Brig list:
70 species
Canada Goose  70
Mute Swan  2
Wood Duck  4
American Black Duck  1
Mallard  5
Double-crested Cormorant  50
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  75
Snowy Egret  50
Little Blue Heron  2
Black-crowned Night-Heron  8
Glossy Ibis  50
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  10
Bald Eagle  1     in treeline just before drive enters upland area
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Clapper Rail  5
American Avocet  1
American Oystercatcher  4
Black-bellied Plover  3
Semipalmated Plover  50
Spotted Sandpiper  5
Greater Yellowlegs  10
Lesser Yellowlegs
Whimbrel  5
Ruddy Turnstone  2
Least Sandpiper  20
White-rumped Sandpiper  1
Pectoral Sandpiper  1
Semipalmated Sandpiper  400
Western Sandpiper  3
Short-billed Dowitcher  25
Long-billed Dowitcher  4     from East Dike, large, red, hump-backed dowitchers. 
Laughing Gull  200
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  25
Least Tern  45
Gull-billed Tern  2
Caspian Tern  4
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  25
Black Skimmer  15
Mourning Dove  10
Downy Woodpecker  2
Peregrine Falcon  2
Eastern Kingbird  1
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  10
Fish Crow  3
Tree Swallow  3
Barn Swallow  5
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard upland
Marsh Wren  2     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard, parking lot
American Robin  1
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  25
Common Yellowthroat  1
Yellow Warbler  
Saltmarsh Sparrow  2
Seaside Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  3     Heard
Eastern Towhee  2     Heard, upland
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard, upland
Blue Grosbeak  1     Heard, start of drive
Indigo Bunting  2     singing
Red-winged Blackbird  20
Boat-tailed Grackle  2
House Finch  2
American Goldfinch  2     Heard

Monday, August 1, 2016

Whitesbog 8/1--Stilt Sandpiper

Cranberry Run, Lower Bog
It is that happy time of the year when the boards get pulled at Whitesbog and shorebirds magically appear. The draining process was started last week, deliberately slow with only a couple of boards pulled out, so no change was apparent until yesterday when I got a message from another regular there that we now had mud. When he told me what he'd seen I wrote back: I'm there tomorrow.

Greg came up with the good idea of designating the 3 bogs that get drained as Upper, Middle, & Lower. There are few bodies of water there that do have names (Union Pond, Big Tank, Upper Reservoir, etc) but the array of bogs stretching over the Ocean County line have always been anonymous. It'll make giving directions a bit easier. We were all surprised to see the Lower Bog drained first. We thought it would be the Upper Bog as it has been in years past but it makes no difference to plovers and sandpipers.

I got there a little after 8, splashing through the mud puddles left by the recent downpours, expecting to park in my usual spot between the Middle and Upper Bogs, when I was was surprised by the extent of the draining in the Lower and at the same time, saw Greg and a couple of other regulars already scanning the birds.

I drove around, avoiding some really big washouts, parked and almost immediately had 6 species of shorebirds, plus egrets, herons and  a lone ibis. But I was in search of a year bird. Yesterday my target had been seen, still considered rare for Burlington County, and after about 20 minutes Greg spotted a couple of larger birds overhead among a peep flock. When Greg said its legs were sticking out behind as it flew I had a notion. They split off, we followed one and watched in land on the edge of Cranberry Run (the creek from which all the bogs are created) scoped it and identified it as the Stilt Sandpiper we suspected it was. FOY!

Greg & I circled the bog getting different views of the birds, but, aside from a goldfinch, finding nothing new. He headed off to survey another bog and I decided to walk around Union Pond and into Ditch Meadow. I was hoping for Wood Ducks back there; instead I came up with a Green Heron. The paths were pretty much underwater back there, but not as bad as I've seen them. And I figure you can't get ticks walking in water.

On my last leg, walking back to the car, I stopped to talk to my friend who was waiting in his truck. Kindly, he pointed out a single Gull-billed Tern, another Whitesbog seasonal specialty.

Last year there were all sorts of notable shorebirds and egrets at Whitesbog (including the amazing day we had both Wilson's and Red-necked Phalarope in the Middle Bog), so, for the next month or so, I wouldn't be surprised if I checked in there 3 or 4 times a week. For my walk today I had 31species
Canada Goose  10
American Black Duck  5
Mallard  15
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  4
Green Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  1
Semipalmated Plover  20
Spotted Sandpiper  4
Solitary Sandpiper  2
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Lesser Yellowlegs
Stilt Sandpiper  1     
Semipalmated Sandpiper  20
Laughing Gull  1
Gull-billed Tern  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  4     Heard
Eastern Phoebe  4
American Crow  3
Tree Swallow  7
Barn Swallow  2
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  15
Common Yellowthroat  2
Song Sparrow  1     Heard
Eastern Towhee  10
Red-winged Blackbird  1
American Goldfinch  1