Saturday, January 30, 2016

Brig 1/30--Red-shouldered Hawk, Gray Catbird + Wild Turkeys at Home

Gray Catbird
Photo: Shari Zirlin
Shari & I took a run down to Brig today; what with her busy schedule, she hadn't been there yet this year. The skies were clear, the temperatures were moderate, the winds were calm, and the Wildlife Drive was relatively smooth; all in all, perfect mid-winter conditions.

And it paid off in great birding. We had just crossed the refuge's border when we had a year-bird--a Gray Catbird in the cedar tree on the bridge over the entrance ponds. I had seen that one of these "half-hardy" birds had been reported yesterday but I didn't really expect to find it and yet, without really looking, there it was!

Red-shouldered Hawk
Photo: Shari Zirlin
We drove down to the Gull Pond first, as always. Not much duckage around, though we did find one American Coot. However, perched on a small tree across the water we found our first Red-shouldered Hawk of the year, which posed quite nicely, allowing this distant photo. Shari also got her first Eastern Bluebirds in the cedars near the water.

I would estimate that about 30% of the impoundments were frozen over, which tended to concentrate the ducks into big flocks. We found most of what you'd expect this time of year, though Tundra Swan was a big miss. Northern Shovelers were also absent, though they're not as regular as the swans. There were no shorebirds to be found.

Our circuit around the impoundments yielded 40 species:
Snow Goose  800
Canada Goose  300
Mute Swan  4
Gadwall  15
American Wigeon  30
American Black Duck  1000
Mallard  100
Northern Pintail  30
Green-winged Teal  15
Ring-necked Duck  4
Bufflehead  20
Hooded Merganser  15
Common Merganser  2     north dike, near end of trail
Ruddy Duck  11
Great Blue Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  1
Northern Harrier  2
Bald Eagle  2     both from north dike
Red-shouldered Hawk  1   
Red-tailed Hawk  1
American Coot  1     
Ring-billed Gull  5
Herring Gull  10
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard, upland section
Peregrine Falcon  2
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  3
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard, Jen's Trail
Carolina Wren  1     Heard upland section
Eastern Bluebird  3     
American Robin  15
Gray Catbird  1     
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
Dark-eyed Junco  1
White-throated Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  3
Red-winged Blackbird  20
House Finch  4
American Goldfinch  5

American Avocets
But wait, there's more! After a quick lunch from Wawa, we drove south to Absecon Creek. The two American Avocets that I saw on January 9th were still reported there yesterday, so I wanted Shari to get them on her year list. When I saw them earlier in the month they were drive up birds. I saw them before I was out of the car. This time it was another case of "you won't see the bird until you sincerely give up."  We stopped and scanned for the birds in a couple of spots and came up empty. I was disappointed, but Shari took it philosophically--only missing a life bird would really upset her, she being much more rational about these things than I am. A state rarity rates an "Oh well."  We drove on to make the turn back to the main road when I looked to my right, and said, "There they are." Just on the end of a spit of land were the two avocets, heads tucked in but unmistakable. 

The day was bookended by our FOY Wild Turkeys. As we were leaving this morning, 3 of them were crossing Milford just as were turning on to it from Sunset. When we came home, around 4:30, there were 22 in the backyard, having finally discovered all the seed we've been throwing onto the snow. Last year it took us until March to find turkeys, so I'm glad to get them on the January list.

No comments:

Post a Comment