Saturday, October 24, 2015

Avalon Seawatch 10/24--Parasitic Jaeger

Shari & I decided to do a little sea watching today, and the best place for that is down at the Avalon Seawatch in north Cape May County. The seawatch has recently been relocated 2 blocks south onto the beach, with a neat little blind built for the seawatcher to protect him (her) from inclement weather. It also affords a much wider view of the ocean than the old location. The weather was perfect with virtually no wind and bright skies. But, much like hawk watching, sea watching can be very frustrating if you don't do it a lot. We have a little pamphlet called Ducks at a Distance, and I always think of it when I see a long skein of ducks whipping south, and the sea watcher is calling out the different ducks in the flock when I'm only able to identify perhaps half of them. It isn't just my i.d. skills that hamper me; my eyesight isn't as sharp as I'd like it to be and I can't hone my skills for very long because even standing on a beach, looking at the ocean through a scope makes me seasick.

The highlight of the day was seeing--at a distance--two Parasitic Jaegers flying low along the waves. The absolute low light of the day was watching a loon fly by (I was using binoculars) and other than knowing it was a loon, getting absolutely no field marks on it, only to hear the sea watcher call it out as Pacific Loon (a nice rarity for the east coast) after I'd lost it in the sky. So, while I can say I saw a Pacific Loon, I can't, in good conscience, count it because if I was asked to describe the sighting, all I could say was that I knew it was some kind of loon.

After almost 2 hours I was pretty dizzy, so we left for lunch. We'd planned to go the Wetlands Institute a few miles south after eating but I'd heard someone at the sea watch talking about the 48th Street maritime forest, so we detoured there and were very happily surprised to find, after walking a short distance through the forested dunes, a plethora of shorebirds that were impervious to the disruptions of beach strollers. In one enormous flock we had Dunlins, Red Knots, Sanderlings, a few Semipalmated Sandpipers and Black-bellied Plovers and one Ruddy Turnstone, as well as a trio of Royal Terns sitting at the water's edge.

Then we drove to the Wetlands Institute where a large flock of shorebirds was wading in the eastern marsh.  We walked to end of the trail and made the day an official success when I found for Shari a couple of American Oystercatchers pressed up against the reedy shore. The day became a social success when on the way back we ran into Pete Bacinski and Joanne Hall. Of course, Pete picked out some Short-billed Dowitchers that I'd like to think had just flown in but that I probably had just overlooked.

I also, unexpectedly, was able to add to my Wawa collection. Shari found an oddball Wawa in Avalon--I don't know the story behind it, but it looks like the Wawa that time forgot, with a logo that is a complete outlier to any of the other standard logos that Wawa uses. There was a time in my life when I could tell you the name of this typeface, but it didn't take long for me to empty my brain of that sort of thing after I left the printing biz. I was inordinately pleased to stop there and buy a big cup of coffee and put the store on my Wawa life list.

For our meandering day we managed 38 species. Respectable for mid-day birding.
Species               First Sighting
Brant     Avalon Seawatch
American Black Duck     Wetlands Institute
Green-winged Teal     Avalon Seawatch
Surf Scoter     Avalon Seawatch
Black Scoter     Avalon Seawatch
Red-throated Loon     Avalon Seawatch
Double-crested Cormorant     Avalon Seawatch
Great Blue Heron     Wetlands Institute
Great Egret     Wetlands Institute
Snowy Egret     Wetlands Institute
Little Blue Heron     Wetlands Institute
Northern Harrier     Wetlands Institute
Bald Eagle     Wetlands Institute
American Oystercatcher     Wetlands Institute
Black-bellied Plover     Avalon Beach
Greater Yellowlegs     Wetlands Institute
Willet     Wetlands Institute
Lesser Yellowlegs     Wetlands Institute
Ruddy Turnstone     Avalon Beach
Red Knot     Avalon Beach
Sanderling     Avalon Seawatch
Dunlin     Avalon Beach
Semipalmated Sandpiper     Avalon Beach
Short-billed Dowitcher     Wetlands Institute
Parasitic Jaeger     Avalon Seawatch
Laughing Gull     Avalon Seawatch
Ring-billed Gull     Wetlands Institute
Herring Gull     Avalon Seawatch
Great Black-backed Gull     Avalon Seawatch
Forster's Tern     Avalon Seawatch
Royal Tern     Avalon Seawatch
Mourning Dove     Wetlands Institute
Northern Mockingbird     Wetlands Institute
Palm Warbler     Avalon Seawatch
Yellow-rumped Warbler     Avalon Beach
Song Sparrow     Wetlands Institute
Red-winged Blackbird     Avalon Beach
House Finch     Wetlands Institute

1 comment:

  1. I need to go to a seawatch place sometime ...