Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Great Sedge Island 7/23--Brown Pelican, American Bittern

At the winter anchorage on Barnegat Bay
Greg & I took a canoe trip out to Great Sedge Island in Barnegat Bay off the southern end of Island Beach SP this morning. I've always wanted to explore that area, but until today, never had any way of accessing it. Greg's been curious too and asked me if I wanted to go along. I hadn't been in a canoe in years, can't steer, and am not much of an oarsman, but he took me along anyway and we had a fabulous time, recording some interesting birds that we would never have seen from shore, even with a scope.

We started out at high tide, which was not very high. I doubt the water ever got waist deep. Most of Barnegat Bay, in fact, is less than 5 ft deep. In theory, one could walk out to the island, but it would be quite a slog.

Royal Tern
Photo: Greg Prelich
We were interested in finding terns, particularly any rare ones. Almost immediately we had a Royal Tern screaming overhead and on a sand bar we found a small flock of them, including a juvenile begging for food.
Mystery Tern
Photo: Greg Prelich

Both Roseate and Sandwich Tern have been reported in the vicinity but we didn't find either. At least we're pretty certain we didn't find either. We did spend an inordinate amount of time looking at one tern with a black bill and orange feet that at first glance I thought might be Sandwich and at second glance thought might be Roseate, but in the end we both think it is probably a Common Tern molting, either a juvenile molting to adult plumage or an adult molting to winter plumage. (Update 7/24: We were wrong. It is a Forster's Tern molting into winter plumage--thanks to Pete Bacinski for setting us right)

Hen Red-breasted Merganser
Photo: Greg Prelich
This summer has been one of out-of-season waterfowl for me and it continued when Greg spotted a bird sitting at the edge of the water in some grass. At first, seeing mostly a long red bill, we thought it was a juvenile oystercatcher but as we paddled in closer we were surprised to have found a hen Red-breasted Merganser, a duck that should have been out of here long ago (or has arrived extremely early). On our return trip the duck was still in the same spot, but moved into the water, tried flying for a bit, then just swam off.

We made it out around one of the grassy isles and were just outside Barnegat Inlet when we stopped for a snack in a little cove. Within a few minutes we had sightings of Green Heron, Clapper Rail, Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs, Whimbrels and best of all, our first-of-year Brown Pelicans, first a single bird, then another, and as we were leaving, two more, an adult and juvenile flying together.

With the pelicans the day was made; we didn't figure to find anything else as impressive. We figured wrong, because a few minutes later we both watch a large brown heron fly into the reeds. We both knew it wasn't another Green Heron--too big, coloration all wrong--and when we spotted it again it was standing with its bill pointing straight up, and we clearly saw the stripes on the neck of the American Bittern, "hiding" in the tall grass. I don't know why, but bittern is considered a rarity this time of year in this area. I consider it a rarity all year long!

Greg mapped our trip on his phone; according to the program we went 3.6 miles (a lot of it was walking while dragging the canoe. Our route looks like one walked by the proverbial drunken sailor. It's a little hard to tell, but we started at the right, went south, turned west, made it to the far side of the island, turned around, explored a dead end channel then came back around on the northern part of the loop.

We had absolutely perfect conditions for our jaunt--virtually no wind until the very end of the tour, moderate temperatures, and, amazingly, given the location, no bugs.

Day list:
Red-breasted Merganser  1     
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Brown Pelican  4     Barnegat Inlet
American Bittern  1     
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  25
Snowy Egret  5
Little Blue Heron  2
Tricolored Heron  1
Green Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
Glossy Ibis  10
Osprey  25     most on nests
Clapper Rail  3
American Oystercatcher  10
Semipalmated Plover  2
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet  2
Lesser Yellowlegs  4
Whimbrel  3
Photo: Greg Prelich

Sanderling  1
Semipalmated Sandpiper  50
Short-billed Dowitcher  4
Laughing Gull  20
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  10
Common Tern  50
Forster's Tern  5
Royal Tern  9
Peregrine Falcon  1
Bank Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  1
Seaside Sparrow  10
Song Sparrow  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Boat-tailed Grackle  5

1 comment:

  1. Larry,

    I would like to talk to you about a major project to digitize underground, alternative, and literary publications from the fifties through the eighties. Literary magazines on board so far include 0 to 9, Aion (New York), Amazon Quarterly, Amphora, Anerca, Aphra, The Archer, Arsenal: Surrealist Subversion, Audience, Audit, Bezoar, Birth, Black Maria, blewointment, Bombay Gin, Bread & Roses, Bread&, Broadway Boogie, Bulletin from Nothing, Burning Deck, Caliban, Chelsea, The Chelsea Review, Chrysalis, City Miner, Cloud Marauder, Clown War, The Coldspring Journal, Conditions, Copkiller, El Corno Emplumado, Credences, Damascus Road, Earth’s Daughters, Extensions, Fire Exit, Free Poems/Among Friends, Ganglia, Genesis West, grOnk, Hanging Loose, Harris Review, Head, Heresies: A Feminist Journal on Arts and Politics, HOW(ever), IKON, Imago, Io, Ironwood, IT, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, Laughing Bear, The Little Mag, Little Square Review, Living Hand, M, Maelstrom, Mag City, Magazine, Magazine of Further Studies, Margins, The Marrahwanna Quarterly, Matter, Meatball, Milk Quarterly, Modern Occasions, Mother: A Journal of New Literature, New Wilderness Letter, Niagara Frontier Review, Not Guilty, NOW/NOW NOW/NOW NOW NOW, The Outsider, Panjandrum Press, Periodics,Personal Injury, Poems from the Floating World, Quilt, Reflections from Chapel Hill, River Styx, Roof, Roy Rogers, Score, Scree, Search for Tomorrow, Sinister Wisdom, Sipapu, some/thing, Soup, Stooge, Strange Faeces (also Etrange Faeces and Endangered Faeces), Sum: A Newsletter of Current Workings, Sumac, SUN, Sundial, Talisman, Tamarisk, Telephone, Things, Tish, Tree, Trobar, United Artists, Unnatural Acts, The World, Yanagi, Yardbird Reader, Y’Bird, Yeah, Yowl, and others. With your permission, I would like to add Some.

    If you would send me your email address, I would send you more information on the project.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


    Ken Wachsberger