Saturday, July 9, 2016

Brig 7/9--Long-billed Dowitcher

Common Yellowthroat singing
I hitched a ride down to Brig with Mike early this morning for my 3rd trip there in 4 days. I was solo on Wednesday when I observed the phalarope, took a couple of spins yesterday with Shari as we tried to find the Ruff reported hours earlier but "only" came upon the phalarope again, and today I was part of a relatively small, but enthusiastic NJ Audubon group led by Mike.

Mike and I went around the drive before the official start of the trip and returned to the parking lot with around 50 species already listed, though neither the phalarope or the Ruff was evident. Driving around the loop the first time was like being underwater as the forecast cloudy day with late PM thunder showers turned instead into a cold, misty, "you get out of the car and let me know if there's anything worth braving the weather for" day.

However, what made the day especially fun was the presence of 3 new birders who had never been to Brig before and had little experience with shorebirds or waders, so the Mike and rest of the group focused on them, stopping for virtually every bird we saw and getting them on birds we would normally consider ho-hum, like Semipalmated Plover or Least Sandpiper. It is actually a great way to reintroduce yourself to some of these birds and really look at them instead of the just ticking them off a list. A Snowy Egret really is a cool looking bird and while I have little interest in photographing them, when one was posing close to the road on a spillway gate, I got the photographer in the group on the bird and his delight was contagious.

The two highlights of the trip were re-finding the Red-necked Phalarope (I was glad Shari got a chance to see this bird yesterday, too) for those in the group who hadn't had it for the year (or in the in the case of 4 in the group, their life) and Mike's discovery of a Long-billed Dowitcher in a small flock of its short-billed cousins. Since these birds are very hard to separate, I'd be hesitant to make the call in such murky light at the distance we were at, but once Mike pointed out the bird, the difference in size, structure, & color were noticeable. It is a rarity in July. In September the reverse will be true--dowitchers then will most likely be long-billed while the short-bills are already south.
Marsh Wren
In the "What I Learned Today" category:

We came across this pretty Marsh Wren doing what a birder in our car called a "van Damme." Not being a fan of 80's martial arts films I had no idea what he was talking about until it was explained to me that Jean-Claude van Damme had a trademark move where he would hold himself up between two walls by spreading and tensing his legs (and then, I presume, beating the bad guys senseless from his superior position). All things considered, I'd rather see a Marsh Wren do it in phragmites.

Starting at 7 and leaving at 4 I listed 74 species, while the entire group list was, I think, 85. Another few weeks, if Brig is open for fall migration instead of closed again for road repair, it will not be unheard of to tally 100 species in a long day there. We missed some easy ones today like Tree Swallow and Blue Jay. Yesterday's Ruff seems to have been a 2 hour wonder.

Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  4
Wood Duck  2
American Black Duck  3
Mallard  10
Blue-winged Teal  2
Wild Turkey  1     Upland section
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  30
Snowy Egret  35
Little Blue Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  6
Glossy Ibis  35
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  20
Cooper's Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  3
American Oystercatcher  9
Black-bellied Plover  25
Semipalmated Plover  1
Spotted Sandpiper  3
Greater Yellowlegs  20
Willet  50
Lesser Yellowlegs  7
Whimbrel  2
Least Sandpiper  30
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1
Short-billed Dowitcher  40
Long-billed Dowitcher  1     
Red-necked Phalarope  1     Seen near  water control spillway at north dike
Laughing Gull  150
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  10
Least Tern  1
Gull-billed Tern  8
Caspian Tern  1
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  60
Mourning Dove  5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1     Heard flying over our heads at picnic tables
Northern Flicker  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1     Heard upland section
Great Crested Flycatcher  2     Heard
Eastern Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard upland section
Fish Crow  5
Purple Martin  5
Bank Swallow  2     Gull Pond
Barn Swallow  25
Carolina Chickadee  2     Heard upland section
House Wren  1     Heard parking lot
Marsh Wren  4
Carolina Wren  1     Heard parking lot
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  75
Cedar Waxwing  1
Common Yellowthroat  10
Seaside Sparrow  15
Chipping Sparrow  1     Heard
Field Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  3
Eastern Towhee  2     Heard upland section
Northern Cardinal  4
Blue Grosbeak  3
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Common Grackle  3
Boat-tailed Grackle  1
Orchard Oriole  2
American Goldfinch  2

Blue Grosbeak


  1. What a beautiful and brilliant blog! I like chess and birds but I love chess players and birders.