Sunday, September 11, 2016

Brig 9/11--Hudsonian Godwit

Hudsonian Godwits
Finally, after at least one false alarm, Brig is, for all intents and purposes, closing tomorrow for repairs to the dikes, the water control structures, and to resurface the wildlife drive. I went there this morning for one last go-round before its months-long closure.

I have been, of late, combining walking and driving along the road. I'll park the car, walk a 1/2 mile or mile up the road with the scope, then return to the car, drive and walk. I was about 1/2 mile away from the car when I a pick up truck with two Ocean County birders I know pulled up. We compared notes, but as he was blocking traffic, he had to go. I caught up with them past the observation tower, on a stretch of the drive that now has very high grass over which it is hard to see into the very high water that usually contains nothing of interest. However, they, in their higher vehicle were able to see in the distance two godwits. I stopped along with a few others and we all focused our scopes on the relatively big birds out there. First thought was Marbled Godwit, which would have been a Jersey year bird for me, but they had no cinnamon coloring on them and, while size is very difficult to judge from a distance, didn't seem bulky enough for MAGO. After much discussion among the group we were all confident, based on the white underparts and the grayish bib and overall lack of coloration, that we had two Hudsonian Godwits, which, to my surprise, are not even considered rare at Brig this time of year. I put out an alert and more folks began to show up. More eyes confirmed the identification, although I have to say that in these situations I'm always reminded of the book title Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds.

It was a fairly good shorebird day with 5 White-rumped Sandpipers and a couple of Buff-breasted Sandpipers (some had 3), along with the more common, expected species, though no oystercatchers, and no Black-bellied Plovers to tempt us into golden plover territory.

I was struck by how few egrets of either species I was seeing until I got to the north dike. They along with Glossy Ibis and a huge flock of Laughing Gulls, were all congregated in one pool where usually you find a few birds if any. The photo below shows a small portion of the flock

I toyed with the idea of doing a second loop as the tide was going out, but the pull of the Mets game was stronger than the tide, so I left around 1. I don't know where my new "go to" place will be for the next few months. I'm thinking Sandy Hook. The drive there the last couple of days didn't seem as arduous as it sometimes does.
My final Brig list for the foreseeable future:
49 species 
Canada Goose  50
Mute Swan  3
Mallard  70
Double-crested Cormorant  15
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  70
Snowy Egret  20
Little Blue Heron  1     Gull Pond
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2     South dike
Glossy Ibis  10
Osprey  7
Northern Harrier  2
Clapper Rail  1     Heard, south dike
Semipalmated Plover  3
Hudsonian Godwit  2     South dike, about a mile beyond observation tower. 
Least Sandpiper  25
White-rumped Sandpiper  5
Buff-breasted Sandpiper  2
Pectoral Sandpiper  12
Semipalmated Sandpiper  120
Short-billed Dowitcher  10
Greater Yellowlegs  5
Lesser Yellowlegs
Laughing Gull  300
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Forster's Tern  200
Black Skimmer  30
Mourning Dove  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard, parking lot
Merlin  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Eastern Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  4
Blue Jay  2     Heard
American Crow  4
Tree Swallow  1000
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard, parking lot
Carolina Wren  1     Heard, entrance pond
Gray Catbird  6
European Starling  20
Black-and-white Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  1     Heard, Jen's Trail pond
Yellow Warbler
Pine Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  2     Railroad bed trail
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  100
American Goldfinch  3

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