Thursday, August 21, 2014

Great Sedge Island 8/21--Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit
all photos © Greg Prelich
 Another beautiful day out on the water in a canoe around Great Sedge Island in Barnegat Bay. Greg & I had a specific target bird for the day, one we felt should be there, but it wasn't until about 4 1/2 hours into our trip, on the way back to the boat launch, that Greg finally spotted this beauty of a Marbled Godwit feeding right where it should have been, on a sand bar exposed by the receding tide.

We beached the canoe and walked across the sand until we were able to get close looks at the godwit, even though from a 1/4 mile away we knew what we had--it is one of those unmistakable birds with that bi-colored bill and huge size compared to the other sandpipers feeding around it. It is considered a rarity, this time of year in this area. It certainly was for me. It is my first Ocean County MAGO, bringing my lifetime county total up to 239.

Until we came across the godwit we had to make do with 10 other species of shorebirds. Oystercatchers seemed to be on every mud flat, beach, and out by the inlet, every rock. Out in the inlet we found a large flock of Brown Pelicans--we stopped counting at 30, agreeing that it was the most pelicans we'd seen at one time in NJ
Many pelicans
Pelican in flight
 There were also skimmers skimming
Black Skimmer
And many opportunities to really get to know 4 species of terns in their various molts.
Caspian Tern (the world's largest tern) in the middle of adult and juvenile Royal Terns (above)
Juvenile Royal Tern (below)

I think we have at least one more trip to the area before the weather changes--we want to explore going north to Spizzle Creek. It looks like good habitat to find an interesting wader (like a bittern) or perhaps some relatively rare shorebirds. So far we've tallied close to 60 species altogether in our wandering around the island's waters.
Today my list (Greg's is slightly different) totaled 39 species:
Double-crested Cormorant  70
Brown Pelican  30
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  25
Snowy Egret  15
Little Blue Heron  2
Tricolored Heron  2
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  1 Juvenile
Glossy Ibis  5
Osprey  15     Many still on nests
Clapper Rail  2     Heard
American Oystercatcher  50
Black-bellied Plover  75
Semipalmated Plover  50
Willet  5
Marbled Godwit  1     
Ruddy Turnstone  25
Red Knot  1
Sanderling  75
Least Sandpiper  4
Semipalmated Sandpiper  10
Short-billed Dowitcher  25
Laughing Gull  50
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  25
Great Black-backed Gull  20
Caspian Tern  4
Common Tern  25
Forster's Tern  10
Royal Tern  46
Black Skimmer  17
Mourning Dove  1
American Crow  1
Tree Swallow  5
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard, boat launch
Gray Catbird  2
Northern Mockingbird  1
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Boat-tailed Grackle  1

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