Saturday, September 3, 2016

Lake of the Lilies 9/3--Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule with Mallards
With post tropical depression cyclone Hermine creeping up the coast, it looked like this morning would be the only birding I got in this weekend. I started the morning early at Whitesbog, where I later met up with Mike, Pete, and Joanne. There were a few shorebirds in the middle bog, but nothing extraordinary, so we decided to to do some "sod farming" up in Monmouth and Mercer Counties. That yield exactly zero. 

Down to Tuckerton and Great Bay Blvd we went, with the weather looking worse and worse and the wind blowing probably around 30 MPH. The tide was supposedly going out but you couldn't tell that from all the water the wind was blowing into the marshes and up to the edge of the road. We found lots of egrets and 6 Tricolored Herons (48! were reported later in the day), a few wind-blown sparrows and a number of shorebirds, again, though, nothing rare. The skies were dark when I got home around 1:30 and even though Mike had received an emailed photo of a Common Gallinule from another county birder, I didn't think conditions would be propitious to chase it. 

But, after a nap, I awoke to windy but sunny weather and a text alert that the bird was just sitting on a log in Lake of the Lilies. LotL, Pt Pleasant, is a great place in the winter for ducks and coots, but I never go there in the summer--stay away from beach towns in months without an "R." So I decided to try for the bird, approximately 45 minutes away. When I got there, around 5:30, I saw a couple of birder friends, one who told me that I had just been the subject of speculation as to whether/when I would show up to look for the bird. Not sure I'm happy about have that kind of reputation but as E.M. Forster (after whom the tern is not named) said, "There it is." 

The bird was indeed standing on a log and was a better looking bird than I had anticipated. Usually immature birds, like this one, aren't very interesting looking, but this one had the field mark of the white edge along the wing that gives away COGA and just seemed "cuter" than the average juvenile. I stayed for about half hour admiring the bird, practicing digiscoping (see mediocre result to left) and showing it in my scope to a couple of casual birders who live nearby and were wondering what all the hubbub was about. It also helped extend my Bird A Day streak by one day. I have two more "easy" birds left, so I'll probably be out of the competition on Monday, assuming I can look up and find a Turkey Vulture of those days. 

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