Monday, August 22, 2016

Brig 8/19--Baird's Sandpiper

Bob Auster & I careened around 3 counties on Friday, starting at Whitesbog in Burlington, then down to Brig in Atlantic and up to Ocean late in the day. Whitesbog was something of a disappointment considering it was Bob's first trip there. The shorebirds have thinned out since the start of the month and the most interesting bird, by far, that we had was a flyover Common Nighthawk that Bob first saw and that flew right over our heads. Best look at one I've had this year and rare to find one hunting in mid-morning.

We were thinking of going up north to survey the sod farms but instead opted for Brig. You can't go wrong at Brig, while on the sod farms you might find something cool or, more likely, you'll see a lot of sod & dirt.  Bob said we were going to find a good bird there, he felt it. The tide was in-betweenish and there were good numbers of sandpipers on the outside channel along the south dike, while inside the dike it seemed especially dry. About 500 feet before the observation tower we stopped to scan some sandpipers feeding in the sparse grass that was growing in the mud and Bob got interested in one bird. Bob has way more patience than I do when it comes to scanning. Well, almost everyone has way more patience than I do when it comes to anything, but that notwithstanding, Bob kept looking and looking at a small flock of birds until he pronounced one "different." And it was: bigger than the other sandpipers, more horizontal & tapered, with a buffy breast and browner head than the nearby semis. It was, after some dithering by us, a Baird's Sandpiper, a bird that, for the most part, migrates south down the Central Flyway, while only a relative few juveniles go off course and appear on the east coast. The bird was much too far and feeding too actively for me to get a photo. I doubt I'd have had the nerve to call this bird on my own; I doubt I'd have seen it if it wasn't for Bob. But, a Baird's it was, an elusive bird that somehow disappeared into the fleawort.

We continued birding, getting the usual shorebirds and were on the north dike, scanning a large flock of terns and gulls when I got a text alert. "Bob," I said, "We should go to Island Beach." That story is posted above this one.

Our list for Brig, aborted 3/4 of the way around:
38 species
Canada Goose  50
Mute Swan  3
Wood Duck  4
Mallard  5
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  25
Snowy Egret  10
Tricolored Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
Glossy Ibis  15
Osprey  15
Bald Eagle  1
Black-bellied Plover  2
Semipalmated Plover  500
Stilt Sandpiper  2
Baird's Sandpiper  1     South dike in grassy area. 
Pectoral Sandpiper  1
Semipalmated Sandpiper  500
Short-billed Dowitcher  50
Greater Yellowlegs  5
Laughing Gull  200
Herring Gull  100
Great Black-backed Gull  25
Least Tern  15
Caspian Tern  2
Forster's Tern  20
Black Skimmer  4
Mourning Dove  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Kingbird  3
American Crow  1
Fish Crow  15
Tree Swallow  1
European Starling  10
Red-winged Blackbird  25
House Finch  2     Heard
American Goldfinch  1     Heard

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