Monday, August 1, 2016

Whitesbog 8/1--Stilt Sandpiper

Cranberry Run, Lower Bog
It is that happy time of the year when the boards get pulled at Whitesbog and shorebirds magically appear. The draining process was started last week, deliberately slow with only a couple of boards pulled out, so no change was apparent until yesterday when I got a message from another regular there that we now had mud. When he told me what he'd seen I wrote back: I'm there tomorrow.

Greg came up with the good idea of designating the 3 bogs that get drained as Upper, Middle, & Lower. There are few bodies of water there that do have names (Union Pond, Big Tank, Upper Reservoir, etc) but the array of bogs stretching over the Ocean County line have always been anonymous. It'll make giving directions a bit easier. We were all surprised to see the Lower Bog drained first. We thought it would be the Upper Bog as it has been in years past but it makes no difference to plovers and sandpipers.

I got there a little after 8, splashing through the mud puddles left by the recent downpours, expecting to park in my usual spot between the Middle and Upper Bogs, when I was was surprised by the extent of the draining in the Lower and at the same time, saw Greg and a couple of other regulars already scanning the birds.

I drove around, avoiding some really big washouts, parked and almost immediately had 6 species of shorebirds, plus egrets, herons and  a lone ibis. But I was in search of a year bird. Yesterday my target had been seen, still considered rare for Burlington County, and after about 20 minutes Greg spotted a couple of larger birds overhead among a peep flock. When Greg said its legs were sticking out behind as it flew I had a notion. They split off, we followed one and watched in land on the edge of Cranberry Run (the creek from which all the bogs are created) scoped it and identified it as the Stilt Sandpiper we suspected it was. FOY!

Greg & I circled the bog getting different views of the birds, but, aside from a goldfinch, finding nothing new. He headed off to survey another bog and I decided to walk around Union Pond and into Ditch Meadow. I was hoping for Wood Ducks back there; instead I came up with a Green Heron. The paths were pretty much underwater back there, but not as bad as I've seen them. And I figure you can't get ticks walking in water.

On my last leg, walking back to the car, I stopped to talk to my friend who was waiting in his truck. Kindly, he pointed out a single Gull-billed Tern, another Whitesbog seasonal specialty.

Last year there were all sorts of notable shorebirds and egrets at Whitesbog (including the amazing day we had both Wilson's and Red-necked Phalarope in the Middle Bog), so, for the next month or so, I wouldn't be surprised if I checked in there 3 or 4 times a week. For my walk today I had 31species
Canada Goose  10
American Black Duck  5
Mallard  15
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  4
Green Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  1
Semipalmated Plover  20
Spotted Sandpiper  4
Solitary Sandpiper  2
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Lesser Yellowlegs
Stilt Sandpiper  1     
Semipalmated Sandpiper  20
Laughing Gull  1
Gull-billed Tern  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  4     Heard
Eastern Phoebe  4
American Crow  3
Tree Swallow  7
Barn Swallow  2
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  15
Common Yellowthroat  2
Song Sparrow  1     Heard
Eastern Towhee  10
Red-winged Blackbird  1
American Goldfinch  1

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