Thursday, August 25, 2016

Brig 8/25--Black Tern

Black Tern hiding behind a Caspian Tern
Black Tern, center
Go for one bird, find another. I planned not to go to Whitesbog this morning for a change. I was thinking instead of looking around either Barnegat or Tuckerton, or both. A text came in, though, at 7 A.M. about 2 Buff-bellied Sandpipers in the SW Pool at Brig (where Bob & I had the Baird's last week), so instead I scooted down there. I was at the pool about an hour and a half after the initial report. Despite assiduous scanning and walking up and down the dike for about a 1/4 mile, I could only find Pectoral Sandpipers, yellowlegs, and semis. Another pair of birders stopped alongside the road and were equally unsuccessful, so I at least had the consolation that it wasn't just me who couldn't find a bird. With a sigh and a grumble I continued on the 8 mile, one way drive. "You can't go wrong at Brig," I told myself, but the stench of failure filled the car (or was that just low tide?)

Snowy Egret on the rocks
At the first sluice gate beyond the observation tower, I stopped to scan the rocks for terns and possibly turnstones. I saw a big white blob laying across the rocks and didn't at first know what to make of it. It turned out to be a Snowy Egret, lounging on rip-rap. I've never seen an egret "relax" in such a manner:

Tricolored Heron
Further along the south dike I saw a photographer snapping away. I don't usually stop to see what photographers have but as there were no Ospreys in sight and she pointed down to the mud flats, I pulled over. She was very excited and asked if she was looking at a couple of Reddish Egrets. To quote my favorite Hemingway line: Wouldn't it be pretty to think so?

Instead she had a couple (actually 3, there was another a little farther up the channel) Tricolored Herons, all juveniles, showing their tri colors very nicely. She was in heaven as it was a life bird for her. So I pulled out my scope and focused in on one so she could admire it, as she only had a camera and no bins.

We both continued along the drive, she well ahead of me as I stopped to scan for anything unusual at my usual spots (the first turn, the NE corner, the dogleg). I didn't come up with anything. I was happy, though, to see that the dogleg is about halfway drained with a little grass coming up through the mud. This is usually a reliable spot for "grasspipers." Supposedly, there were also two buffies there too, or else the same two from the other side of the pools.

At the sluiceway where the Red-necked Phalarope, American Avocet, and White-faced Ibis have all been seen, my photographer friend was stopped along with another birder. They looked interested. There were lots of different species out on the flats, so I pulled out my scope. The birder was looking through the Short-billed Dowitchers, hoping for a Long-billed. I scanned them all and didn't see anything promising, though my opinion is certainly not authoritative. There were 3 Caspian Terns on the flats and my two companions were saying that this was where a Black Tern had been of late. I didn't see one because, if you look at the picture above, the little tern was hiding behind the Caspian behemoth but eventually it was spotted and while my digiscope photos are not award winning, they did reveal the reason I was having such a hard time keeping track of where the tern was: There were actually two and I was seeing one or the other every time I changed the angle or height of the scope.
Two (count 'em, two) Black Terns with Caspian Tern, Forster's Terns, Herring Gull and Short-billed Dowitchers
So that changed the tenor of the day. I at least had a year bird and a good bird for Bird A Day. I'm probably going back to Brig on Saturday, maybe buffies will still be around. I see, from eBird, that they were seen again in the SW Pool this afternoon. 

I took a walk along Jen's Trail, the first half of which I spent fending off flies, but as I was coming around the last leg of the 1/4 mile trail, the flies disappeared and one spot had 5 species of warblers. Whether they were migrants or residents who haven't left yet I have no way of knowing. All 5 species I saw nest at Brig. 

For the day I had 49 species--one loop plus a little bit of walking down to the Gull Pond. 
Canada Goose  75
Mute Swan  3
Mallard  17
Double-crested Cormorant  15
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  50
Snowy Egret  25    
Tricolored Heron  3     
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
Glossy Ibis  21
Osprey  10
Cooper's Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  2
Black-bellied Plover  1
Semipalmated Plover  6
Pectoral Sandpiper  10
Semipalmated Sandpiper  50
Short-billed Dowitcher  35
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  1
Lesser Yellowlegs  5
Laughing Gull  200
Herring Gull  100
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Least Tern  5
Gull-billed Tern  1
Caspian Tern  3
Black Tern  2     
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  14
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Eastern Kingbird  1
Blue Jay  1     Heard, entrance
American Crow  4
Fish Crow  5
Tree Swallow  25
Carolina Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard, Akers trail
House Wren  1     Heard, Gull Pond road
Gray Catbird  3
European Starling  20
Ovenbird  1
Black-and-white Warbler  1
American Redstart  1
Yellow Warbler  1
Prairie Warbler  1
Field Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  150

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