Friday, September 25, 2015

Brig 9/25--Curlew Sandpiper

The renowned Dogleg Pool 
When I got an alert about the rarity at Brig on Monday I didn't rush down because I thought it would a low percentage chance of finding the bird and I didn't feel like being frustrated. On Tuesday, when I figured the bird to be a one-day wonder, it was still there. On Wednesday, when I was hoping the bird was gone so I wouldn't feel bad about not chasing it, I got an alert mid-morning that it was still there but again, I didn't go, even though Bob Auster had strongly suggested we try. I didn't go Thursday and was amazed it was still being found and now I was I hoping it would hang around until Saturday when I was going on Mike's field trip. Thursday night Bob again suggested that maybe we should try on Friday, so I finally relented this morning, even though I wasn't looking forward to trying to find a little gray bird with a curved bill in the expanse of grass, mud, and shallow water pictured above. Part of my reluctance was that it is such a nothing bird to look at.

I met Bob at 8 and we drove directly to the dogleg of the Brig's wildlife drive, about 5 miles, not stopping to look at any birds along the way. As soon as we pulled up we saw Dave & Lisa and, happily, instead of scanning and scoping for hours, looking through a multitude of distant birds, they had our target, a Curlew Sandpiper, in their scopes. It was fairly close to the road, only about halfway out in the pool and we were able to get the relevant field marks, such as they are, for the species--light supercillium, curved beak, more slender than a Dunlin, gray, not brown like a Pectoral Sandpiper, both of which were also in the pool for comparison.

Curlew Sandpiper is a rare visitor from Eurasia. One usually pops up annually in New Jersey, but mostly along the Delaware Bay coast. This the 3rd time I've seen the species--the first time was dumb luck: Shari & I were birding Cape May County and stopped to see what some birders were so intent about on Nummy Island. It turned out to be a CUSA. At the time I didn't understand the significance of the bird. The 2nd time we saw one was about 7 years ago at Jamaica Bay. I have a journal entry lamenting the lousy looks I got at it. Today, at least, my views were very good, though it was never close enough for a picture. So I didn't really mind that my camera battery died after I took the panorama photograph above of the dogleg pool. And if I did have a photo of it, you'd probably say "Meh."

Bob & I are still going on Mike's trip tomorrow, but for us, the pressure to find the bird is off. After we'd studied the bird for a while we finished out the loop and then made a 2nd circuit, birding the drive as it should be birded, that is to say, stopping and actually looking at the birds. Our takeaway: Ducks are coming back; Shorebirds are leaving. And so the water in the impoundments, after being low for about 20 minutes, are high again.

I had 49 species for the day. They were:
Canada Goose  75
Mute Swan  15
Wood Duck  2
Gadwall  1
American Black Duck  50
Mallard  25
Blue-winged Teal  2
Northern Shoveler  2
Northern Pintail  5
Double-crested Cormorant  75
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  25
Snowy Egret  30
Glossy Ibis  1     f/o
Turkey Vulture  4
Northern Harrier  1
Clapper Rail  1     Heard
Black-bellied Plover  4
Semipalmated Plover  15
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Curlew Sandpiper  1     
Dunlin  10
Least Sandpiper  5
Pectoral Sandpiper  5
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1
Short-billed Dowitcher  1
Laughing Gull  200
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  10
Caspian Tern  3
Forster's Tern  25
Black Skimmer  4
Downy Woodpecker  1     Heard
Peregrine Falcon  2
Blue Jay  2     Heard
American Crow  1
Tree Swallow  25
Gray Catbird  1     Heard
European Starling  1000
Common Yellowthroat  1     Heard
American Redstart  1
Yellow Warbler  1
Prairie Warbler  1
Savannah Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  2     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Boat-tailed Grackle  100
American Goldfinch  2

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