Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Brig 11/3--KING RAIL

Mike & I were walking down the road to the Gull Pond at Brig this unseasonably warm morning, when we heard, distinctly, coming from the edge of the pond "Kidik-kidik-kidik" multiple times. Virginia Rail, a very nice bird to get and my first one in New Jersey this year. Of course, we couldn't actually find the bird in the reeds (where do you think the phrase "thin as a rail" comes from?) but there were no mistaking the bird. So we were feeling pretty good about that find when, walking a little farther, and just after noting a pond pig (Mute Swan) in the channel on the other side of the road, we heard, loud and fairly slow, "Kek-kek-kek-kek." We knew it wasn't the swan, and it didn't sound like a Clapper Rail, which all seem to have fled in the wake of the storm we had in October. The habitat was right (fresh water). We had heard a KING RAIL, a life bird for me. Earlier this year I thought I had one for the life list but the habitat was wrong and possibility of Clapper Rail was too strong so that I was forced, in good conscience, to take it off my list. But this one I'm counting.

The ducks, of course, are returning to Brig--that's what it was built for--but we also had a surprising number of shorebirds there today, including a massive flock of Dunlins, a couple of late White-rumped Sandpipers, as well as out of season Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers. In all, for our almost 5 hours exploring the refuge, I picked up 56 species, but I could have had only the King Rail and been happy.
Snow Goose  50
Brant  20
Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  3
Gadwall  5
American Wigeon  1     From north dike, with Gadwalls and pintails
American Black Duck  50
Mallard  100
Northern Shoveler  5
Northern Pintail  200
Green-winged Teal  10
Bufflehead  1     From south dike, before observation tower
Common Loon  1
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  15
Snowy Egret  2
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1     South dike
Turkey Vulture  6
Northern Harrier  2
Bald Eagle  7
KING RAIL  1    Heard, road to Gull Pond
Virginia Rail  1     Heard, road to Gull Pond
American Coot  3
Black-bellied Plover  4
Greater Yellowlegs  10
Dunlin  5000
Least Sandpiper  2     From north dike, small brown shorebirds with yellow legs
White-rumped Sandpiper  2     
Semipalmated Sandpiper  5     from north dike, gray birds with finer bills than WESA.
Western Sandpiper  1
Ring-billed Gull  10
Herring Gull  20
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3     Heard
Northern Flicker  1     Heard, entrance road
Peregrine Falcon  2
Blue Jay  10
American Crow  5
Carolina Chickadee  3     Heard
Carolina Wren  2     Heard
Golden-crowned Kinglet  1     Heard, trail behind parking lot
American Robin  1     Heard, exit ponds
Gray Catbird  1     Heard, road to Gull Pond
Yellow-rumped Warbler  50
Seaside Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  2
Savannah Sparrow  12
Song Sparrow  10
Swamp Sparrow  3
Eastern Towhee  5
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard
Boat-tailed Grackle  10
House Finch  2

Avalon Sea Watch
We started the day south of Brig, at the relocated Avalon Sea Watch. We were treated to a huge flight of Northern Gannets, a couple of flyby Red-necked Grebes (rare) and watched as a Parasitic Jaeger stole a fish from a hapless Forster's Tern. The jaeger and the tern were very close in, fighting just over the jetty. Finally, I got to see a jaeger that was more than a shape out over the water. Instead of reporting that the bird was there, I can report that I saw the bird with satisfaction. 

I wanted to show Mike the path to through maritime forest through the dunes to the beach down at 48th street, so after a while we headed down there. For whatever reason, shorebirds gather in this area in pretty good numbers--we had Red Knots (which were all gray) Black-bellied Plovers (known at "Grey Plovers" in Europe, Dunlins (gray), Sanderlings (white and light gray), and a couple of Ruddy Turnstones (brown & gray). This is why you have to pick out your shorebirds by shape, size and behavior, because color isn't much help. 

We also had another Red-necked Grebe (perhaps one of the birds we had seen earlier) and a Common Loon on the water, as well as few more plunge-diving gannets. For the two spots we listed 30 species + a couple of incidental birds that I felt duty-bound to count:
Species     Location
Brant     Avalon Seawatch
Wood Duck     Avalon Seawatch
Surf Scoter     Avalon Seawatch
Black Scoter     Avalon Seawatch
Common Loon     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Red-necked Grebe     Avalon Seawatch
Northern Gannet     Avalon Seawatch
Double-crested Cormorant     Avalon Seawatch
American Oystercatcher     Avalon Seawatch
Black-bellied Plover     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Ruddy Turnstone     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Red Knot     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Sanderling     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Dunlin     Avalon Seawatch
Parasitic Jaeger     Avalon Seawatch
Laughing Gull     Avalon Seawatch
Ring-billed Gull     Avalon Seawatch
Herring Gull     Avalon Seawatch
Great Black-backed Gull     Avalon Seawatch
Forster's Tern     Avalon Seawatch
Royal Tern     Avalon Seawatch
Rock Pigeon     Avalon
Downy Woodpecker     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Northern Flicker     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Carolina Chickadee     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Yellow-rumped Warbler     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Song Sparrow     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Northern Cardinal     Avalon 48th St Beach Entrance
Brown-headed Cowbird     Avalon
House Finch     Avalon Seawatch
American Goldfinch     Avalon Seawatch
House Sparrow     Avalon Seawatch

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