Saturday, November 28, 2015

Brig 11/28--Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
On Tuesday, as I was coming home from Brooklyn, I saw an alert that a rarity had been found the previous day at Brig. That did me no good. When I arrived on the bus in Toms River I saw that the bird was still there. I was tempted to drive down to Brig right then, but I wasn't really in the mood for chasing a bird. These birds are usually "one day wonders" so I didn't expect that it would be there on Wednesday, so I didn't go. It was there on Wednesday. Thursday was Thanksgiving. We were back in NY, on Long Island and didn't get home until late Friday night. And I kept getting alerts about the bird staying in the same field. Finally, today, Shari & I drove down to Brig. By this time I really didn't expect the bird to persist, but just as we were driving down the entrance road, another alert came through. The bird was in the same spot, 1/2 a mile past the the Experimental Pool on the upland portion of the trail. There were two ways to get there. We could have walked about a mile from the parking lot to get to the spot, but that's a slog along a sandy road, or we could drive 7 miles on the one-way Wildlife Drive, pretty much ignoring all the birds along the way,which is what we did. As advertised, in a big field past the entrance to the Experimental Pool we found a pod of birders. I walked up, put my binocs and there was my year Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. One or two of these beauties occurs each year in NJ. Shari & I found one a couple of years back at Whitesbog, but we hadn't seen one since then. This was a good looking adult with the very long tail feathers and the subtle salmon colored flanks. I notice that my picture looks similar to the Western Kingbird of a few weeks back in Cape May. Hard to get a good picture with all the bare branches in the way. On the other hand, the bare branches allow you to see the bird. The bird wouldn't turn around for me, so all my pictures are of the back, flank, and tail--the field marks at least.
Bald Eagle (3rd year juvenile)

With the rarity out of the way, Shari & I were ready to actually bird the refuge, and we did pretty well, finding lots of ducks, swans, coots and waders. The Snow Geese numbered at least a thousand, the Tundra Swans were abundant, and we found a 3rd year Bald Eagle down by the Gull Pond:
But the two most interesting birds we saw today, aside from STFL, were at the exit of the Parkway. First, Shari spotted a Glossy Ibis, very late for the year, flying into the marsh, and then, just as we were turning onto the exit ramp, I saw a Ring-necked Pheasant on the grassy hillside.

My personal rule for pheasants is that if I see them in a WMA, like Colliers Mills, I don't count them, but if they're wandering around the highways and byways, far away from the hunters, they're wild enough to count and interesting enough to note for the eBird records.

Counting those two birds we had 42 species for our two trips around the Brig loop:
Snow Goose  1000
Brant  300
Canada Goose  500
Mute Swan  3
Tundra Swan  55     Careful count
American Wigeon  20
American Black Duck  1000
Mallard  30
Northern Shoveler  15
Northern Pintail  100
Bufflehead  5     bay off north dike
Hooded Merganser  6     Experimental Pool
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  14
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1     roosting in trees of gull pond
Northern Harrier  2
Bald Eagle  2     3rd year @ gull pond, adult @ Experimental Pool
Red-tailed Hawk  1
American Coot  13
Greater Yellowlegs  1     Heard, south dike.
Dunlin  4
Ring-billed Gull  2
Herring Gull  100
Great Black-backed Gull  15
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher  1     
Blue Jay  2     Heard
Carolina Chickadee  2     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
Hermit Thrush  1     Experimental Pool
American Robin  15
Cedar Waxwing  20
Yellow-rumped Warbler  30
White-throated Sparrow  1     Heard, picnic tables.
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard, upland trail
American Goldfinch  5

Statistical note: This is the 1000th post I've made on this blog since its inception in 2009. That seems like a lot of blithering to me. 

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