Monday, August 4, 2014

Today I was Inconvenient & Annoying

I drove Shari down to Barnegat Township this morning where she underwent oral surgery (she came out of it fine) and since the procedure was going to take over an hour, I ran over to the Forsythe-Barnegat impoundments instead of watching The View on the office TV. I parked at the public beach and walked the couple of hundred feet across the street to the cut in the phragmites where I could view the birds on the mud flats. Across the street from the marsh, on Bayshore, homes are still being repaired and rebuilt almost two years after Sandy devastated the area. While I was looking at the various shorebirds, a workman came through the cut and asked me if I was seeing any birds. "Oh lots," I said, and started pointing out the yellowlegs, sandpipers and plovers scurrying around in front of us and farther out, the egrets and ibises in the shallows.

"Over on Oyster Creek," he said, "I saw an eagle."

The only bird sighting by a non-birder that sets my teeth on edge more than eagle is an Osprey. Both are big, charismatic birds, but "big" and "charismatic" are much more important than "bird" in that phrase. In a way, I think, some people forget that they are actually birds. And much rarer, more interesting birds are often right in front of them. Anyway, I have a tendency to deflate a person's excitement about those birds, so I told him that eagles were actually pretty common in New Jersey, "and besides, they're here all year. These guys [the shorebirds and waders] aren't."

He kind of harrumphed and turned around. I heard another guy say to him, "Nah, no one can see you in there."

"Yeah," he said, "but there's a guy with binoculars birdwatching!"

Evidently, he wasn't really curious about bird life on the marsh--he wanted to take a piss. Inconveniently, I was there. Well, there are relatively clean Port-o-Sans near the beach.

For the 25 minutes I was able to steal, I had some decent sightings, including my first Ocean County Stilt Sandpiper--slightly curved beak, smaller than a yellowlegs, feeding with its rump high in the air.

Today's list also includes about 5 minutes on the viewing platform around the bend on Bayshore. With a scope, I'd have probably picked up a few more species.
23 species
Canada Goose  4
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  5
Snowy Egret  30
Glossy Ibis  4
Osprey  1
Semipalmated Plover  15
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  5
Lesser Yellowlegs
Stilt Sandpiper  1
Semipalmated Sandpiper  20
Short-billed Dowitcher  5
Laughing Gull  5
Herring Gull  20
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Forster's Tern  5
Mourning Dove  4
Fish Crow  1
Tree Swallow  10
Barn Swallow  1
Gray Catbird  1     Heard
Song Sparrow  1     Heard

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