Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Brig 7/6--Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope with Forster's Terns and Laughing Gulls, Brig
On Saturday, I took my visiting friends from the Berkshires, Sue & Roy, down to Brig for a spin around the dikes. Living in the hills as they do, any coastal bird was interesting to them and the skimmers, terns, willets, oystercatchers, etc. were easy to view and photograph. I, on the other hand, an an ulterior motive--the day before a Red-necked Phalarope had been reported from the north dike and I was hoping to add that bird to my year list. But, though it seemed like there were a lot of birds there for my visitors, to me, the place was dead. Nothing new or "interesting" showed up, certainly not a rare phalarope.

Later that evening, as I was taking out the trash, I heard Mike's voice. I couldn't place the source until I realized it was coming out of my pocket. It was not an aural hallucination. Somehow, I had managed to "butt call" him (again) and he was responding. As it happened, he was down at Brig at dusk and had seen the bird. While I was tempted to run down there the next day, I didn't think my company would enjoy the chase and with one thing another, I wasn't able to get down there until this morning.

Judging from the previous reports, I wasn't optimistic about my chances, since most people were seeing the bird later in the day. The tide seemed fairly low when I started out on the 8 mile drive, another factor working against me since I had the feeling the bird was coming in with the tide. And, naturally, on my first loop, after assiduous searching at the water control spillway where it had been seen for the last 5 days, it was "too late, the phalarope" for me.

The greenhead flies were pinging off the car but the air conditioning kept them at bay, the temperature was reaching 90 (just the way I like it), and the tide seemed to be coming in, so why not another loop?  On my 2nd ride I added some birds I had missed like Gull-billed Tern, Least Sandpiper, and Least Tern (the latter a very hard bird for me to find this year), so I figured I wasn't completely wasting my time.
Least Tern with Forster's Terns & imm Laughing Gull
Least Sandpipers
I made the turn at the dogleg and up ahead saw a couple of cars stopped at the guard rail over the conduit. As soon as I got out of my car one of the guys said "Red-necked Phalarope." It had come in with the tide.I took a quick peek in his scope then put it in my scope to make it official. 

It is a very pretty bird. Phalarope are sexually dimorphic and in reverse to boot, the females being much more colorful than the males. As had been noted before about this bird, it was not acting like a phalarope, either sitting on the mud flat or picking daintily at the mud instead of spinning around dementedly as phalaropes are wont to do. 

It has been a while (June 11 to be exact) since I put a bird on the year list. RNPH is a very good entry for Bird A Day, which is becoming a slog; if southern migration doesn't start soon, I am going to have to start using the "easy" birds long before I want to. 

My list for the two loops:
54 species
Canada Goose  125
Mute Swan  8
Wood Duck  1
American Black Duck  5
Mallard  8
Double-crested Cormorant  45
Great Blue Heron  5
Great Egret  75
Snowy Egret  70
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
Glossy Ibis  40
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  15
American Oystercatcher  4
Greater Yellowlegs  4
Willet  15
Lesser Yellowlegs  6
Least Sandpiper  2
Red-necked Phalarope  1     
Laughing Gull  100
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  10
Least Tern  2
Gull-billed Tern  3
Caspian Tern  1
Forster's Tern  75
Black Skimmer  30
Mourning Dove  2
Peregrine Falcon  3
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2     Heard
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  10
Purple Martin  5
Tree Swallow  4
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard
House Wren  1     Heard
Marsh Wren  3     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
American Robin  1     Heard
Gray Catbird  5
European Starling  100
Common Yellowthroat  4
Seaside Sparrow  3
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  1
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard
Indigo Bunting  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  75
Common Grackle  5
Boat-tailed Grackle  15
House Finch  2
American Goldfinch  2

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