Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Great Bay Blvd WMA 5/26--Least Tern

I had stuff to do in the morning and what with migration coming to an end, I figured my best shot at birds in the afternoon would be toward the water so I drove down to Tuckerton. I wasn't disappointed with shorebirds--there were pockets of sandpipers, Dunlins, turnstones, and a few of the larger shore species all along the 5 mile stretch. I also came across a fairly large flock of Black Skimmers at the start of the road, loafing on a mud flat, yipping like little dogs, a sight and sound that always amuses me.

I saw a couple of Seaside Sparrows out in the open--one was taking a little bath and the other was running from one tuft of grass to another on a mud flat practically at my feet. I also heard a couple more and had I been really paying attention to that one sparrow I'd probably have twice the number. But I was looking for new stuff. I was looking, particularly for Saltmarsh Sparrow, a bird I just can't seem to find in Ocean County and I was looking for White-rumped Sandpiper and I struck out on both, though I thought I had some pretty good candidates for the latter but they were just too far away and obscured by grass for me to call definitively.

If I focus on what I did see than I'm pretty happy with the day. I was also looking for different terns when I was out at the inlet but that area was pretty dead and the wind was unrelenting. Those of you who follow this blog (Hi Mom!) know that I abhor wind--doesn't matter if it's January or May, wind is wind to me. So the walking around part of the trip was challenging. I was walking the road between the fourth and fifth bridges checking out the marshes when I saw a tiny tern dive into a pool. It took a moment for the thought to click in, but I watched the Least Tern for about 30 seconds to confirm the i.d.

Walking back toward the car I noticed that the mud flats on one side were covered in an icky red slime which I assume is some sort of algae or the like. The birds didn't seem to mind it and it made for great contrast:
Short-billed Dowitcher on red mud
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper on red mud
There were not the great number of egrets that are sometimes there and I saw exactly one each Glossy Ibis, Tricolored Heron, and Little Blue Heron. I had pulled off just north of the fourth bridge on my way out to make one last stab at finding something interesting and there it was--the first one I've seen this month and an adult.
34 species
Great Egret  18
Snowy Egret  12
Little Blue Heron  1   
Tricolored Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  1
Osprey  10
Clapper Rail  4     Heard
American Oystercatcher  1
Black-bellied Plover  15
Semipalmated Plover  20
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet  7
Ruddy Turnstone  26
Dunlin  75
Least Sandpiper  5
Semipalmated Sandpiper  100
Short-billed Dowitcher  9    
Laughing Gull  50
Herring Gull  20
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Least Tern  1
Forster's Tern  15
Black Skimmer  32
Willow Flycatcher  1     Heard in grove, just before 5th bridge. 
Fish Crow  1
Tree Swallow  20
Barn Swallow  50
Gray Catbird  2     Heard
European Starling  1
Common Yellowthroat  4     Heard
Seaside Sparrow  4
Song Sparrow  2
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Boat-tailed Grackle  10

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