Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Great Bay Blvd WMA 5/5--Gull-billed Tern, Seaside Sparrow

Gull-billed Terns
I'd had enough of woodland trails which seemed to be all that I had walked the last week, so after the Blue Grosbeak excitement, I drove down to Great Bay Blvd to scout out the what was in and on the marshes.

Forster's Tern
I stopped, as I usually do, at the new bulkhead, right after the first bridge and while I was eating my snack I heard the buzzy song of a Seaside Sparrow, so my first bird there was FOY. My initial plan was to go all the way to the end of the road and scan the beach, but I stopped because I was hungry. I'm glad I did, because I walked north a little along the boardwalk, scanning the muddy channel. I saw some terns, figuring they were Forster's Terns, and most were, but standing on a point were two Gull-billed Terns, another FOY. Somehow, Gull-billed Terns have eluded me in Ocean County so there's another species added to my county life list.

Shorebirds were abundant, particularly , Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlins and Short-billed Dowitchers. There were a couple of dowitchers I was sorely tempted to turn into the long-billed variety, but the long-bill don't arrive for at least another few weeks. Besides, many a birder has been reduced to dribbling fool trying to distinguish LB from SB at a distance.

The only ducks I saw was a peculiar pair that I believe I saw last year in the same spot, at the old boat launch, just before the fifth bridge. It is comprised of a drake Mallard and what I believe to be a hen hybrid MALL/American Black Duck. It is possible that it is just a hen black duck and they are making their own hybrids, but there is something about the hen (and after seeing this pair for a year, I'm pretty certain it isn't a bromance) that doesn't fit a pure (if such a duck exists) American Black Duck. Whatever they are, I wish them well.

My explorations yield 5 more county birds. My only regret is that I wasn't able to find a Whimbrel; they've been reported there but I haven't stumbled on one this year.
34 species (+1 other taxa)
Brant (Atlantic)  100
Mallard  1     
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)  1     
Double-crested Cormorant  105     Counted 100 flyovers then a few scattered around the marshes
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  15
Snowy Egret  5
Glossy Ibis  4
Osprey  15
Clapper Rail  6
American Oystercatcher  5
Black-bellied Plover  100
Semipalmated Plover  8
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  8
Dunlin  100
Semipalmated Sandpiper  10
Short-billed Dowitcher  75
Laughing Gull  5
Herring Gull  25
Great Black-backed Gull  20
Gull-billed Tern  2     
Forster's Tern  25    
Fish Crow  4
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  25
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  1
Common Yellowthroat  4
Yellow Warbler
Seaside Sparrow  3     Heard
Song Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  1     After 5th bridge
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Boat-tailed Grackle  50

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