Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brigantine 5/18--Black Skimmer, Marsh Wren

Ruddy Turnstones (mostly)
I'd heard Brig was loaded with shorebirds and so it was, all except for Whimbrels, which I couldn't find.

The tide seemed to be relatively high when I got there, but plenty of mud was exposed for sandpipers. There were lots of Ruddy Turnstones in breeding plumage--always good lookers--plus even more Dunlins in their finery, red backs and black patches on the belly.

While I was on the drive I met another birder with whom I'd recently been on a trip with. He was walking the drive, something I'd like to do someday, but the conditions have to be right. It is 8 miles around and in the summer, with no shade available and the vicious green-head flies, it would be impossible. Sunday, actually, would have been a perfect day to walk the circuit, but the idea didn't even occur to me until I met Robert.

The disadvantage of walking, from a birding standpoint, is that you either have to lug the spotting scope or resign yourself to missing a lot of birds (or mooch off other's scope views). I told Robert that if he got tired and wanted a ride he was welcome to come in my car. By the time he & I met again at the observation tower (around where the turnstone and Dunlins could be scoped) I think he saw the advantages of 4 wheel transportation, so we rode together the rest of the way. Walking the wildlife drive is one of the few things I can think of that I'd like to do "while I can still do it." We'll see.

Black Skimmers
On the north dike we came across my first year birds of the day, 3 Black Skimmers--always a favorite in the Zirlin household.

They were in the area where terns and gulls like to hang out. I was looking for a Caspian Tern for Robert. I've seen them there the last few times I've been to Brig. Naturally, when you really want them, they aren't there.
Injured Snow Goose

Our only "rarity" of the day was a sad one: a Snow Goose with an injured wing has been stranded on the north dike since early spring. So far it has managed to avoid predation. How long it can continue avoiding eagles and hawks is an open question.

Instead of doing a 2nd loop as I usually do when I'm with Shari or a group, I decided to walk around the area, looking for passerines. I walked a little on the short Akers trail, walked around the picnic and children's area, went down the stairs onto part of what I think is the Songbird trail, walked down to the Gull Pond and after walking back from there wound up at the Leeds Eco-trail. I was picking quite a few birds all along the way, nothing new, until I reached the very end of the Leeds Trail at the gazebo where I heard the gurgling song of the Marsh Wren. I was happy to just hear the song when first one, then another sprang out of the reeds, tail pointed up, then dove back down. When they fly up, they look like they're bouncing off a hidden trampoline in the phragmites.

My list. I can't help but note that in one day I saw/heard just 20% fewer species than I did in more than a week in NM.
64 species
Snow Goose  1     
Canada Goose  75
Mute Swan  4
Gadwall  1
American Black Duck  25
Mallard  5
Double-crested Cormorant  20
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  30
Snowy Egret  10
Glossy Ibis  8
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  10
Bald Eagle  1     Gull Pond
Clapper Rail  2     Heard
American Oystercatcher  3
Black-bellied Plover  5
Semipalmated Plover  20
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  35
Ruddy Turnstone  25
Dunlin  200
Least Sandpiper  3
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1000
Short-billed Dowitcher  50
Laughing Gull  25
Herring Gull  5
Gull-billed Tern  1
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  3
Mourning Dove  1
Chimney Swift  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard
Northern Flicker  1     Heard
Peregrine Falcon  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  1     Heard, Songbird trail
Eastern Kingbird  3
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard, upland portion
Blue Jay  1     Heard, picnic tables
American Crow  1     Heard
Fish Crow  5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  2
Purple Martin  15
Tree Swallow  10
Barn Swallow  20
Carolina Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
Marsh Wren  2
Carolina Wren  1     Heard, Songbird trail
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  6
Common Yellowthroat  20
Yellow Warbler
Eastern Towhee  2     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  4
Song Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  2     M&F
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Boat-tailed Grackle  3
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
House Finch  2
American Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  5

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