Friday, August 1, 2014

Whitesbog 8/1--Pectoral Sandpiper

July 17
July 31
A few ago I was at Whitesbog, talking my friend Len, who knows more about the flora, fauna, and lore of Whitesbog than anyone. Len informally consults with the farmer there about when to drain the bogs and he asked me when I thought a good time would be. I ventured that the last week of July would seem to be propitious. Len agreed, and said, "That's what we'll do." The caveat was it would happen providing the farmer had time to get to it, because when he doesn't need the water for irrigation, he drains the bogs as a courtesy to birders.

"Wow," I thought, looking around at the acres of water, "What power!" The caveat was it would happen providing the farmer had time to get to it, because years that he doesn't need the water for irrigation, he drains the abandoned bogs as a courtesy to attract shorebirds.

Yesterday, I stopped by on my way back from Brig to see if the water levels were down. Obviously, from the above photos, they are. The first bog (pictured) was full of Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Turkey Vultures and an immature Little Blue Heron (a rarity for Burlington County). The bog toward the county line had a fair number of shorebirds. I did a quick scan and planned to come back this morning.

I emailed Greg the happy news and he met me there early this morning. It really is like a mini-Brig, except you don't have to worry about the tide and the greenhead flies are non-existent. More birds had flown in overnight than what I saw yesterday afternoon and we had plenty of plovers and sandpipers to sort through. Our two "best" birds were numerous Pectoral Sandpipers and one Stilt Sandpiper we managed to tease out of the birds on mud flats. There was one sandpiper we couldn't identify with confidence. The possibilities of real rarities exist there this time of year (think Baird's or Buff-breasted Sandpiper, or American Golden Plover), so it bears examining each bird closely. the Pecs and the Stilt are considered rare but that's more a function of eBird's filters than the reality on the ground (mud).

We also wandered over the line into the Ocean County section of the bogs, which have not and will not be drained this year. There it was very different--we got most of our land birds in that section, though we did have one Wood Duck fly over by the Upper Reservoir.

It was a good start to the month. So long as those bogs are mud, I plan to visit them regularly.
Two lists:
24 Species
Canada Goose  10
Mallard  15
Wild Turkey  2     drained bog near parking lot
Great Blue Heron  5
Great Egret  6
Little Blue Heron  1     Continuing. Immature bird.  
Turkey Vulture  1
Semipalmated Plover  10
Killdeer  5
Spotted Sandpiper  4
Solitary Sandpiper  5
Lesser Yellowlegs  2
Stilt Sandpiper  1     
Least Sandpiper  2
Pectoral Sandpiper  5     
Semipalmated Sandpiper  25
Mourning Dove  1
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard
Blue Jay  1     Heard
Fish Crow  1     Heard
Purple Martin  5
Tree Swallow  5
Song Sparrow  2
Red-winged Blackbird  5
Whitesbog, Ocean County
23 species
Wood Duck  1
Mallard  5
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Mourning Dove  1
Downy Woodpecker  1     Heard
Eastern Wood-Pewee  3
Eastern Phoebe  4
Great Crested Flycatcher  1     Heard
Eastern Kingbird  3
Purple Martin  2
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  1
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  4
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher  2
Ovenbird  1
Common Yellowthroat  5
Pine Warbler  3
Eastern Towhee  3
Song Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  2
Red-winged Blackbird  5

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