Saturday, July 16, 2016

Brig 7/16--White-rumped Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Bobolink

Obligatory American Oystercatcher photo
A much better day than yesterday. Shari & I met our buddy Bob Auster down at Brig late morning and we proceeded around the impoundments, finding a nice variety of herons, egrets and shorebirds from the gull pond all the way over to the north dike. In the Gull Pond alone we had a slew of Great Egrets, an immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron,  a Little Blue Heron, and a Great Blue Heron.

Our first year bird was found by Bob off the East Dike as we were sorting through peeps. Least Sandpipers in the back on the mud, Semipalmated Sandpipers in the shallow water, segregating themselves just as Sibley shows, and in with the semis was a very fresh, very rufous Western Sandpiper showing its diagnostic chevron pattern in its feathers.

Yesterday a few rarities had been reported while I was frustrating myself in Cape May: a White Ibis, a few American Avocets, and a Pied-billed Grebe. I didn't "need" any of them, so I didn't rush up to Brig, knowing I'd be there the next day. I hoped they'd hang around. The ibis flew off a half hour after it was reported, no one saw the avocets today, so when we reached the Exit Pond, where the grebe had been reported, I mentioned it to Shari & Bob and almost immediately, Shari found it. Then Bob found it. Larry couldn't find it, despite explicit, copious instruction from both my wife and my friend as to which green patch in the back it was in front of. At first I was... annoyed, then I was... frustrated, then I started questioning whether birding was truly a waste of time, and just about when the black dogs of depression was clawing at my throat, Bob located the grebe in the scope, I saw it. and everything was fine again. Just as I have trouble hearing anyone in a noisy restaurant, lately I have been having trouble picking out birds against a "noisy" background.

We were just finishing lunch and getting ready for another go-round when who should pull into the parking lot but Mike. He and his family group had already made one circuit ahead of us and were returning from lunch. So we made it a mini-field trip and started around again. Usually I don't add many birds on the 2nd trip around, but today another 16 were added to the list, including two more year birds. First Mike found a couple of White-rumped Sandpipers in the same area that we'd previously had the Western Sandpiper. I don't think we missed them the first time, but it's certainly possible, as they are only subtly different than the more common peeps.

Then,  on the North Dike, Mike stopped the car, got out and asked, "Did you see the Bobolink?" No we hadn't, but a few seconds later we did, as it flew out of the tall grass along the outside ditch and flew west, showing nicely what Peterson dubbed its "reverse tuxedo." (Most birds are dark on the back, lighter on the stomach; Bobolinks are the opposite." Bobolinks are not common at Brig--they are more of a grassland bird than one found in marshes, but they do move through in migration, though they are more commonly heard overhead than seen.

We stopped at the Exit Pond again to try to get the grebe for Mike and his party. Looking through his scope Mike came up with Wood Ducks (even I saw one on the first trip around), and both night-herons, but the grebe was not showing in the reeds.

I came up with 63 species for the day (contrasted to 38 yesterday in Cape May), which proves that it pays to bird with others and that Brig is really one of the best places to bird on the East Coast if not all of the country.
Canada Goose  50
Mute Swan  20
Wood Duck  5     Exit Pond
Mallard  15
Pied-billed Grebe  1     
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  75
Snowy Egret  25
Little Blue Heron  3
Black-crowned Night-Heron  4
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  2
Glossy Ibis  50
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  15
Bald Eagle  1
Clapper Rail  3
American Oystercatcher  10
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet  10
Lesser Yellowlegs  6
Whimbrel  3
Least Sandpiper  25
White-rumped Sandpiper  2      Larger shorebirds with longer wings going past tail
Semipalmated Sandpiper  50
Western Sandpiper  2
Short-billed Dowitcher  3
Laughing Gull  125
Ring-billed Gull  2
Herring Gull  75
Great Black-backed Gull  20
Least Tern  3
Gull-billed Tern  10
Caspian Tern  1
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  25
Black Skimmer  30
Mourning Dove  1     Heard upland section
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard, Exit Pond
American Crow  1     Heard
Fish Crow  5
Purple Martin  15
Tree Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  4
House Wren  2     Heard
Marsh Wren  1     Heard, North Dike
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  50
Common Yellowthroat  2     Heard
Seaside Sparrow  5
Chipping Sparrow  1     Heard
Song Sparrow  4
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard Upland section
Blue Grosbeak  1     Upland section
Indigo Bunting  1     Heard Parking Lot
Bobolink  1     North Dike, black bird with creamy nape.
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Common Grackle  1
Boat-tailed Grackle  1

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