Sunday, August 17, 2014

Broadkill Marsh 8/16--Black-necked Stilt

Our other primary shorebird target, Black-necked Stilt, is not easily found lately at Bombay Hook, though it is used on the cover of their checklist. The best area for finding stilts this year has been at the "other" hook, Prime Hook about 35 miles south in Sussex County. We started the morning off at Bombay Hook, where we ran into fellow Jersey birders Rob & Lisa Fanning. They had come for their avocet and stilt fix too, as well as the Sedge Wren. We exchanged phone numbers in case either of us should find something spectacular.

After lunch we drove south, getting stuck in heavy beach house changeover day traffic. We finally got to Prime Hook around 2 PM. Prime Hook is a lot like the Forsythe refuge in NJ. There's a lot to it and it is spread over a large area. We started out walking a trail that runs along a marsh in the main section by the headquarters, but the water was very high (as it had been at Bombay Hook and at Brig--what gives?) and not a shorebird was to be seen. I stopped into the Visitor's Center to look for a checklist (fruitlessly) and ran into Rob & Lisa again. They'd been successful in the wren hunt, had seen avocets and were now out to look for stilts. The volunteer at the center told them the best bet was Broadkill Marsh, not far from where we were. That was also our next stop--eBird showed the marsh to be a fairly reliable spot for the birds. Before they left, I told them we'd probably run into them on the road. We did catch up to them at the first likely spot and Rob gave us a thumbs down from the car window. We stopped to look at some yellowlegs and other shorebirds, hoping for something unusual, but it was a waste of time. Focus! We drove about 1/2 mile down the road and saw them parked on the opposite side, setting up a scope. We u-turned and parked rather precariously at the side of the road, hazard lights blinking. Rob & I were both scoping the marsh, seeing nothing but avocets (how quickly you get jaded). Shari came up after securing the car. I almost said, "If anyone gong to find the bird, it's Shari," but didn't even have the time to get the sentence out before Shari put up her bins and said, "There's a stilt." Amazing. One had flown in just as she reached us. While looking at that one, another came in. Time to do the happy dance.

Not a lot of species for Broadkill Marsh, but we were only looking for one.

16 species
Mallard  1
Double-crested Cormorant  15
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  5
Snowy Egret  3
Green Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  6
Black-necked Stilt  2
American Avocet  4
Semipalmated Plover  20
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Lesser Yellowlegs
Least Sandpiper  5
Semipalmated Sandpiper  200
Laughing Gull  1
Song Sparrow  1     Heard

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