Monday, May 26, 2014

Brigantine 5/26--White-rumped Sandpiper

American Oystercatchers, Laughing Gulls, Dunlins, Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers
Photos: Shari Zirlin
When in doubt, go to Brig. I had an idea today about going to a more local place that is not birded much where some hard to find warblers can be found, if you're lucky, but when I woke up this morning the idea of slogging around a tick-infested marsh on a slippery boardwalk that is partially submerged, especially after the recent heavy rains, seemed like a low percentage play--we might get a couple of "good" birds, or we might just get sweaty and bitten.

At Brig, on the other hand, you know you're going to find a lot of birds. And with just a little luck, you'll find something interesting. Our luck started right at the entrance ponds on Great Creek Road. We always stop there for at least a few moments just to scan the ponds and today we saw a birder we know so we pulled over and asked him what he had. He thought he had an oriole but couldn't find it. We heard it singing. I don't know orioles that well. After a few moments we spotted it in a red maple, a yellow bird with a black bib--a first summer male Orchard Oriole. A very nice bird to start the day.

Later, at the Gull Pond with the same guy, we were discussing our strengths and weaknesses regarding shorebird i.d.; I, for instance, would be very hesitant to call a Western Sandpiper unless I was standing right on top of it and had all the field marks. Our friend said that he had never seen a White-rumped Sandpiper without somone pointing it out to him. A minute later I had one in my scope and hesitated pointing it out to him, but I couldn't resist. He got his white-rump and his record remains clean.

On the Wildlife Drive before the observation tower there were a slew of sandpipers and in one patch we came across American Oystercatchers, mixed in with Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlins, and the like (see photo above). This made Shari very happy, as it is her favorite bird. I thought it would take us a bit longer to find them, but I knew that a couple had been nesting down the road. Sure enough, there were two more oystercatchers just beyond the tower. It doesn't look like their nest, which was just a scrape in the sand next to the road, was successful, since I couldn't find the eggs I had seen a couple of weeks ago and there were no young on the scene. I don't know if they'll make a second attempt. This bird was just sitting, not sitting on eggs.

Further on down the road, at the first turn, we came across a couple of Gull-billed Terns exchanging food, which looked like courtship to me. They were the only two terns besides Forster's Terns we saw today--no Caspians or Leasts.

Frustration of the day was hearing a bird on the upland portion of the trail. The "song" was, "Fitz-bew...dee dee dee." Now, "fitz-bew" is easy--that would be a Willow Flycatcher. But the "dee-dee-dee" is not part of the Willow Flycatcher's repertoire. So I don't know what it was--maybe a mimid playing with me.

For the day we had 63 species--certainly more than we would have found at my original destination. I still want to go there--I just didn't want to make Shari miserable. For one thing, there is no possibility of an oystercatcher in an inland marsh.

Canada Goose  100     many with goslings
Mute Swan  7     Gull Pond
American Black Duck  10
Mallard  9
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Egret  15
Snowy Egret  3
Tricolored Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  45
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  10
Bald Eagle  1     f/o Jen's Trail
Clapper Rail  2
American Oystercatcher  4
Black-bellied Plover  15
Semipalmated Plover  5
Greater Yellowlegs  1     Heard
Willet  15
Ruddy Turnstone  20
Dunlin  500
Least Sandpiper  3
White-rumped Sandpiper  5
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1000
Short-billed Dowitcher  25
Laughing Gull  200
Herring Gull  10
Gull-billed Tern  2
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  100
Mourning Dove  1     Heard
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard picnic tables
Northern Flicker  1     Picnic tables
Peregrine Falcon  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1     Heard
Eastern Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  2
Fish Crow  5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Purple Martin  25
Tree Swallow  4
Barn Swallow  20
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
Marsh Wren  8     Saw one briefly, heard others
Carolina Wren  2     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1     Heard
Gray Catbird
Common Yellowthroat  9
Yellow Warbler
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  3
Seaside Sparrow  1     Heard
Song Sparrow  4
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  100
Common Grackle  1
Boat-tailed Grackle  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  1     Roof of visitor's center
Orchard Oriole  2     First year male entrance ponds, mature male Experimental Pool
House Finch  4
American Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  3

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