Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Holgate 10/19--Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwits, interspersed among American Oystercatchers Brants, Holgate
Since year birds are getting sparse this time of year and so are the entries, I'm turning to a state & county year bird for today's post. When I was last at Holgate at the extreme southern end of the aptly named Long Beach Island, it was about 10 degrees Fahrenheit with a ferocious wind in my face, but, I really wanted to see a Snowy Owl. Today, the 2nd day of an October heat wave, seemed like a good time to make the long, boring drive to Holgate and walk on the beach to look for Marbled Godwits.  In my "hey kids, collect 'em all" frame of mind, I "needed" these birds for the state and Ocean County lists, despite having them on the year list from trip to Delaware. 

They weren't hard to find. There were at least 14 of them sitting on a sand bar on the bay side with about 75 American Oystercatchers and a slew of Brants.  If you examine my digiscoped pictures, you'll see them tucked in among the orange beaks of the oystercatchers. 

Marbled Godwits are supposedly rare in the county, but they're really not. Travelers to Great Sedge Island see them a on regular basis and this group has been at Holgate for seemingly a month. True, you can't go just anywhere to see them, but it isn't really that big a deal to find them--unless you "need" them. Then you trudge out on the sand. 

Holgate seemed a lot different to me than my last warm weather visit. The "Area Closed" signs have been moved much closer to the beach, the numbered markers that gave you some idea of how far you'd walked have been removed, and maybe it was just because the tide was high, but the whole strip seemed to me much more narrow, as if storms had eroded the beach. 

I added a few other month birds along the way: Caspian Tern, a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (this is a reliable spot for them) and a Western Willet. There was a Black-bellied Plover also, although at the distance I had it, it could have been an American Golden-Plover but the operative word in this sentence is "distance." 

I guess I walked about 2/3 of the way down the beach before turning around when the beach ahead just looked like more gulls. There was nothing on the ocean in the way of sea ducks, loons, grebes, or gannets. 
23 species
Brant  200     Bayside
American Black Duck  8
Double-crested Cormorant  100
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  2
American Oystercatcher  75     Close count
Black-bellied Plover  1
Semipalmated Plover  25     Exact count
Marbled Godwit  18     Exact count.  Digiscope photo below.

Sanderling  500     Easily
Dunlin  3
Willet (Western)  1
Laughing Gull  8
Ring-billed Gull  30
Herring Gull  100
Lesser Black-backed Gull  2
Great Black-backed Gull  200
Caspian Tern  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  10
Yellow-rumped Warbler  6
Song Sparrow  2
Boat-tailed Grackle  2

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