Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mercer Corporate Park 10/3--Red Phalarope

Two storms, one of them Hurricane Joaquin, have kept the East Coast socked in with rain and wind and have kept me indoors. Even though the hurricane is not going to hit us directly, it still creates excitement regarding "storm birds." Intrepid birders head out to the beaches of Cape May, the Avalon Seawatch, points on the Delaware Bay, etc, looking to find rarities blown off course by the storm. I, not liking rain and wind very much, am not one of those birders. Plus, my skills and eyesight also are not conducive to identifying some fast-flying tern or tubenose in the mist, in the distance.

So, I was sulking in front of the tv, watching a meaningless Mets game when, between innings, I saw a post on Jerseybirds that a Red Phalarope was at Mercer Corporate Park. I was out the door as if shot from a cannon. Red Phalaropes are mostly seen way off shore and for someone like me, who does't do pelagics, they are exceedingly difficult to see. I have seen, before today, exactly one, years ago, off a jetty at Shinnecock, Long Island, and it was an event. So, for one to be inland, in a nearby (40 minutes) pond was too good an opportunity to pass up. The rain had tapered off to drizzle when I left the house and had stopped when I pulled onto the corporate park's drive. Quite a number of birder's were already there. The bird was right across the pond, swimming near the opposite shore. I saw it well through the scope and got a documentary photo:
The thicker bill was the best field mark, and the rufous coloring told me that it was probably a juvenile bird. I hung around for around 40 minutes, chatting with Mary (who found it) and Vince (whose post I'd seen) and Steve, then made a quick spin around the other pond, finding nothing else.

As I was pulling out, I saw Steve photographing at the end of the pond. I stopped, scanned the water and couldn't find the bird. I couldn't find it because it was practically at our feet so I was able to get some decent photos of a bird that I will likely never get this close to again:

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