Thursday, December 24, 2015

Brig 12/24--Warm, Wet, Windy

Goose Cozy
Pete Dunne has oft propounded the maxim "Bad-weather birding is the best birding," to which I have never subscribed; however, facing a third day staying inside due to rain, Shari & I decided to test the theory by driving down to Brig. The temperatures here in the east are ludicrously warm--as I type it is 70 degrees--but with the gloomy forecast of rain and wind we figured we'd be in the car the whole 8 mile loop. Driving down on the Parkway the conditions were not propitious as sheets of rain had the windshield wipers swiping away at maximum speed. I was doubtful we'd even be able to see out the car windows. However, as soon as we pulled into Brig's parking lot, the sun emerged and for the first half hour we were looking at winter birds in conditions more like Easter than Christmas.

Someone at the refuge wanted to make certain we knew it really was winter--all the goose markers but one had a knitted scarf and cap. We found 17 species of waterfowl (geese, swans, ducks, grebes, coots) and most of the other expected birds. Nothing rare for the day which quickly deteriorated once we started driving around the impoundments--a constant drizzle and a strong gusty wind discouraged us from scoping a lot of the duck flocks for anything "rare" like a Eurasian Wigeon. Shari found the best bird of the day--a Clapper Rail at the start of the drive; unfortunately, I missed that one.

Altogether we managed 36 species in one loop around the dikes. Not great, but better than staying at home looking at the umpteenth goldfinch at the thistle feeder.

Snow Goose  215
Brant  210
Canada Goose  125
Mute Swan  3
Tundra Swan  30
Gadwall  8
American Wigeon  10
American Black Duck  115
Mallard  20
Northern Shoveler  14
Northern Pintail  60
Green-winged Teal  10
Bufflehead  6
Hooded Merganser  8
Red-breasted Merganser  12
Ruddy Duck  25
Pied-billed Grebe  1     Experimental Pool
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Great Blue Heron  3
Turkey Vulture  1
Northern Harrier  5
Bald Eagle  1

Clapper Rail
American Coot  8
Ring-billed Gull  5
Great Black-backed Gull  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Peregrine Falcon  1
Blue Jay  5
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard upland portion
Carolina Wren  1     Heard, HQ
American Robin  5
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
White-throated Sparrow  1     Heard, Purple Martin field
Red-winged Blackbird  25
American Goldfinch  1     Heard, parking lot

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