Thursday, August 7, 2014

Great Sedge Island 8/7--Red Knot

Royal Terns, adults and juvenile
Photo: Greg Prelich
Royal Tern doing its Black Skimmer imitation
Photo: Greg Prelich
Our first canoe trip out to Great Sedge Island off Island Beach SP last month was so successful that Greg & I wanted to try it again as soon as possible, which was today. We were in the water at 8:30, about a half hour past high tide. We headed out to the sand bar where we could see loads of birds. Royal Terns were abundant; we counted 48 and that is probably an undercount. We had one Caspian Tern in there for comparison--the Royals look small next to it, and the Forster's Terns shrink to the perceptual size of Least Terns when the world's largest tern is in the vicinity.

Shorebirds were all over the place, including many Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones, both semipalmated species and on our return trip to the ever shifting sand bars the highlights of the day--one Piping Plover and 4 Red Knots which stumped us at first looking at them through binoculars. Fortunately, this time Greg brought along his scope (which was wrapped in a waterproof bag and stored in the cooler) and through that lens we were able to see some red still showing on their breasts along with the other field marks for Red Knot.
Red Knots
Photo: Greg Prelich
Despite windier conditions than last month and stronger current, we managed to get out to the Oyster Creek inlet side of Sedge Island where we beached the canoe for a while and scanned the distant sand bars. It took a while but we finally saw a couple of Brown Pelicans in flight and then, through the scope, Greg found 4 of them on sitting around with large flocks of terns, gulls, and cormorants. The power boats creating great rocking wakes dissuaded us from even trying to canoe around the inlet--we'd be swamped. 

We did a little less walking than last time, but there were still quite a few spots where we suddenly ran out of water. Funny how a sand bar can sneak up on you. I'll remember that next there's a news story about a stranded cruise liner or freighter. 

(If I'm taking this picture, I'm not pulling my weight)

My list for our four hour (and 9 minute) cruise:
34 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose  3
Double-crested Cormorant  30
Brown Pelican  4
Great Egret  10
Snowy Egret  1
Little Blue Heron  3
Tricolored Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  7
Osprey  15     Many still on nests
American Oystercatcher  12
Black-bellied Plover  50
Semipalmated Plover  100
Piping Plover  1
Willet  2
Greater/Lesser Yellowlegs  2     f/o
Ruddy Turnstone  20
Red Knot  4
Stilt Sandpiper  1
Sanderling  10
Semipalmated Sandpiper  100
Short-billed Dowitcher  15
Laughing Gull  50
Ring-billed Gull  2
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  40
Caspian Tern  1
Common Tern  2
Forster's Tern  20
Royal Tern  48
American Crow  1     Heard
Tree Swallow  3
Saltmarsh Sparrow  1
Seaside Sparrow  8
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Common Grackle  25

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