Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Brig 7/20--White-faced Ibis

White-faced Ibis (not that you can tell)
Brig is due to close August 1 for dike and road repairs, so it's "see 'em while you can" for the remainder of the month. Shorebird numbers are picking up nicely and will probably peak when no one but construction workers can view them.

I had made two loops of the Wildlife Drive as well as walked a couple of trails, had about 60 species, and was close to the exit when I got an alert that a White-faced Ibis was off the north dike, close to where the recent Red-necked Phalarope had been seen for a couple of weeks. There are few things more aggravating than 6 miles of one-way dirt road with a speed limit of 15 mph when you are going for a rare bird. It took me about a half hour to get back to where I had just been. And it wasn't as if I hadn't been looking for a WFIB. In the perimeter ditch on the outside of the north dike were about 50 ibises and I looked every one of them in the eye. But this ibis was standing in some reeds on the other side and was easily overlooked.

I actually, in my haste and distraction, overshot the mark and realized that by concentrating on not speeding I had passed the spillway. I parked the car and walked back about 1/4 mile at first only seeing the terns and gulls that usually roost at the spot. Then I saw two ibises. I walked toward them, put down my scope and one of them flew away! The remaining ibis continued to feed and came out a little into the shallow water. I scoped it, but, ironically, in the strong sunlight, I couldn't see a thing on it. It was just a silhouette of an ibis in the harsh light. After a minute or so of picking at the water, it turned its head and I saw it--red eyeball! That's the field mark you need, since the "white-face" of a White-faced Ibis isn't always so obvious. After a little more observation I was able to see some white around the eye, but not well enough to distinguish it from its more common glossy cousins. But then again I saw the red eye and was reasonably satisfied I had the bird. I took photos but, as you can see, at that distance, in that light, no details, much less field marks, were picked up by the camera. After about 5 minutes, the bird squawked, lifted off and flew toward Tuckerton.

White-faced Ibis was my 400th bird for the year and my fourth ibis of the year (Glossy in NJ, White in NJ & FLA, and Scarlet in T&T). While I was watching the ibis, a Willet came in a fed with it. The only Willet of the day when last week they were ubiquitous. But, I suppose, since they are local nesters, they've moved out already, making room for the birds coming down from the Arctic.

My list for 24 miles (3 loops)  of Wildlife Drive:
62 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  33
Wood Duck  2     Exit Pond
American Black Duck  2     Dog Leg
Mallard  10
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  60
Snowy Egret  20
Little Blue Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  50
White-faced Ibis  1     
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  10
American Oystercatcher  9
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  1
Lesser Yellowlegs  4
Least Sandpiper  50
Semipalmated Sandpiper  700
Western Sandpiper  1
Short-billed Dowitcher  50
Laughing Gull  100
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  75
Great Black-backed Gull  15
Least Tern  2
Gull-billed Tern  2
Caspian Tern  1
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  15
Mourning Dove  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard, Jen's Trail
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1     Leeds Eco Trail
Eastern Phoebe  1     Heard, upland
Eastern Kingbird  1
Blue Jay  1     Heard, parking lot
crow sp.  3
Purple Martin  20
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  15
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard, upland
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard, upland
White-breasted Nuthatch  1     Heard, Akers Trail
House Wren  2
Marsh Wren  4
Carolina Wren  2     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1     Heard, upland
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  50
Common Yellowthroat  3     Heard
Seaside Sparrow  4
Chipping Sparrow  1     Heard, parking lot
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard, upland
Northern Cardinal  1     Upland section
Indigo Bunting  1     Upland section
Red-winged Blackbird  10
American Goldfinch  2

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