Friday, August 26, 2016

Brig 8/26--Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpipers at the dogleg 
I went back to Brig this morning to try again for Buff-breasted Sandpipers because it really bugged me that yesterday I couldn't find them. I decided that I would be as patient as I could be and that I would look at every sandpiper that I could see in the area before the observation tower on the south dike. I parked the car on the road and walked the about a 3/4 of a mile along the SW Pool, looking for activity. I saw, up ahead, the refuge's truck parked and directly across from it a lot of shorebirds feeding in the short grass. I know the driver and got there just as he was pulling away. We exchanged greetings and he told me that there were two buffies out there, pretty distant. I set up my scope and started to scan. I found: Pectoral Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, starlings, geese, gulls, and skimmers. I stood there for almost an hour scanning left and right, looking at each bird no matter how distant and I couldn't find the Buff-breasted Sandpipers. When I had first arrived some shorebirds took flight. For all I know, the buffies were in that flight.

I shouldered my scope, finally, and walked back to the car, figuring that I could scan as I drove and that a 2nd loop later might have a happier result. Then a text came in that there were ELEVEN Buff-breasted Sandpipers at the dogleg. I had been thinking that spot would be my next opportunity to find one. All summer I have been bemoaning its flooded state, but yesterday I noticed that a good portion of it was "dry." That is if you consider mud that's probably a foot deep "dry."

It is almost 4 miles from where I was to the dogleg. 4 miles is a long drive at 20 mph (5 miles over the speed limit, I know) and especially aggravating when, in front of you someone is tooling along at 10 in the middle of the road and doesn't have the brains that God gave geese, so he doesn't get out of your way until you're practically up his tailpipe. I ran into (almost) 3 of these fools.

Anyway, I made it to the dogleg, got out the scope and immediately found 3 birds, than another, and when I moved to another area, another 4 for a total of 8. I only need one. 8 Buff-breasted Sandpipers is a lot. The most I've ever seen at one time before was 3 and those were my lifers 10 years ago. I wish I could have photographed them better but they were fairly distant. Big in the scope, small in the camera.

It wasn't the way I had hoped to find them but find them I did. For the rest of the drive I played leap frog with one of the cars that had been in front of me. He was a photographer (naturally) so when he stopped at the dogleg to take pictures of egrets in the cedars, I didn't bother to tell him about the much more interesting birds in the grass because he wouldn't be able to photograph them. We met up again at the sluiceway where yesterday I had the Black Terns. Mostly there were dowitchers there today and 4 Caspian Terns. I walked up the rode to see if there was anything more interesting and then came back. He rolled down his window and asked me if I had seen the Whimbrels. I told him I seem to have missed them. I scoped for a couple of minutes, didn't see any Whimbrels (hard to miss, even for me) and then realized that what he though were Whimbrels were actually Glossy Ibis.  40 of them. I briefly entertained catching up with him and disabusing him of his i.d., but thought better of it.

I was walking on Jen's Trail when I got a voicemail about an appointment back at the house that I had forgotten about. I had plenty of time to get home, but there went the 2nd loop. Consequently, about half the drive I didn't survey. I still wound up with 47 species, only 2 less than yesterday.
Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  3
American Black Duck  1
Mallard  10
Northern Shoveler  6
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  30
Snowy Egret  20
Tricolored Heron  2
Black-crowned Night-Heron  5     
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  2     in trees across Gull Pond
Glossy Ibis  40
Osprey  10
Semipalmated Plover  3
Killdeer  2
Least Sandpiper  5
Buff-breasted Sandpiper  8    
Pectoral Sandpiper  10
Semipalmated Sandpiper  45
Short-billed Dowitcher  100
Greater Yellowlegs  20
Lesser Yellowlegs  
Laughing Gull  200
Herring Gull  100
Great Black-backed Gull  5
Gull-billed Tern  1
Caspian Tern  5
Forster's Tern  20
Black Skimmer  8
White-eyed Vireo  2     Heard, one on Jen's Trail, the other upland area
American Crow  1     Heard
Fish Crow  8
Purple Martin  2
Tree Swallow  25
Barn Swallow  1
Carolina Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  2
Carolina Wren  1     Heard, parking lot
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Gray Catbird
Brown Thrasher  1
European Starling  50
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard, upland area
Northern Cardinal  2     Heard, upland area
Red-winged Blackbird  100
American Goldfinch  1

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