Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brigantine NWR 4/27--Whimbrel, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Chimney Swift, Yellow Warbler, Seaside Sparrow

Greater Yellowlegs
Photos: Shari Zirlin
A mammoth day at Brigantine with Pete & Mike leading the way. We arrived about a half hour earlier than the start time so our friend Joan could get a little land-birding in before we went out on the dikes. She and I found a few nice birds--Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Bluebird--but probably the best bird of the day was found by Shari while she was chasing after us--a Northern Parula. Considering how scarce warblers were today (I only had 2 species, both by ear), that's a great find.

Tundra Swan
Still, we were not disappointed. On the way to the Gull Pond Tower we stopped and looked at a very late (possibly injured) Tundra Swan in the pond itself. At the tower parking lot we came across our first Chimney Swifts (the classic "cigar with wings" description is ever apt) as well as our first small flock of Semipalmated Sandpipers.

Coming back along the Gull Pond road we heard one of the two warblers for the day--a Yellow Warbler--but we knew we couldn't all pile out of the cars in time without chasing away the bird, so we drove on.

Out on the dikes Whimbrels were pretty easy to find and we also came across a small number of Least Sandpipers--their yellow legs are the easiest way to separate them from the Semipalmateds.

Off the north dike there is a sandbar that always attracts terns and gulls--today, while stopping to look at first one, then two Caspian Terns we were happy to find our first Gull-billed Terns--right on time according to Pete. Also along the way and out on the island were American Oystercatchers, making the day complete for Shari.

Our last FOY of the day was a clearly singing but unseen Seaside Sparrow. That halfway makes up for the one I missed yesterday at Jake's Landing.

For the day my list is 80 species, not including the scaup species which was probably a lesser based on date and freshwater habitat, but I have a hard enough time calling scaups in good conscience when they're close, so this distant bird gets the slash.

Snow Goose  1    Injured bird
Brant  50
Canada Goose  10
Mute Swan  3
Tundra Swan  1    
Wood Duck  5
Gadwall  2
American Black Duck  10
Mallard  4    probably more that I just missed.
Blue-winged Teal  6
Northern Shoveler  4
Green-winged Teal  2
Greater/Lesser Scaup  1
Bufflehead  2    off north dike
Red-breasted Merganser  10
Ruddy Duck  1
Double-crested Cormorant  25
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  50
Snowy Egret  25
Little Blue Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  8
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  10    Most nests occupied
Northern Harrier  2
Bald Eagle  2    One f/o, one off north dike
Red-tailed Hawk  2    adult f/o, juvenile by visitor's ctr.
Clapper Rail  2    Heard
American Coot  1    Gull Pond
American Oystercatcher  5
Black-bellied Plover  40
Greater Yellowlegs  50
Willet (Eastern)  100
Whimbrel  50
Dunlin  25
Least Sandpiper  4
Semipalmated Sandpiper  25
Short-billed Dowitcher  5
Laughing Gull  10
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  5
Gull-billed Tern  2
Caspian Tern  2
Forster's Tern  50
Chimney Swift  20
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1    Heard
Merlin  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
White-eyed Vireo  1    Heard
Blue Jay  1    Heard
American Crow  1    Heard
Fish Crow  20
Purple Martin  5
Tree Swallow  20
Carolina Chickadee  2    Heard
Tufted Titmouse  3    One seen with nesting material by picnic tables.
White-breasted Nuthatch  1    Heard
Carolina Wren  1    Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  10
Eastern Bluebird  2
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  5
Brown Thrasher  1
European Starling  5
Common Yellowthroat  5    Heard
Yellow Warbler 
1    Heard
Eastern Towhee  3    Heard upland portion of drive
Chipping Sparrow  10
Savannah Sparrow  2
Seaside Sparrow  1    Heard, north dike
Song Sparrow  5
White-throated Sparrow  2    heard singing, picnic tables
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  20
Common Grackle  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  1    Roof of visitor's center
House Finch  2    Visitor's ctr
American Goldfinch  2    Near visitor's ctr
House Sparrow  1

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