Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Brig 11/8--American Bittern, Golden Eagle

American Bittern, Brig
Mike & I made an election day swing through 3 coastal counties today. We started off down at the Avalon Seawatch (Cape May County), where the highlight was a Parasitic Jaeger (year bird for Mike); flying south we saw nothing but hundreds of Black Scoters. 3 Purple Sandpipers were dancing away from the waves on the jetty.

We then drove down to the Avalon Dunes to look for shorebirds on the beach and found a good mixed flock of mostly Dunlins, with quite a few Red Knots mixed in, as well as Sanderlings and Black-bellied Plovers. I find it odd that I see way more Red Knots in the autumn than I do in spring but then, I go looking for them this time of year.

Our next stop was up in Atlantic County to look for Marbled Godwits on Brigantine Island, a spot where they, along with Western Willets and American Oystercatchers inexplicably gather in large numbers. Why that spot, under the bridge, when there are hundreds of surrounding marshlands that look pretty much like that spot we cannot figure out. But they were there, in goodly numbers, along with a few other sandpipers. I counted 185 oystercatchers and took a picture for Shari of just some of them:

Even though all of the wildlife drive at Brig is closed on weekdays, the road to the Gull Pond is still open and that is where we found (well, actually Mike found) our two best birds of the day. The American Bittern was in the channel on the east side of the road where one often is. One is probably always there, but they are so perfectly camouflaged that finding one is a thrill. It's a real "Where's Waldo" bird. Sometimes we were looking straight at it, knew it was there, yet still had to strain our eyes to find it. I can't tell you how many pictures I took of phragmites when I thought I was aiming the camera at the bird, but I did get a few decent ones like the shot above. We stayed watching it a long time, marveling at how perfectly it matched the surrounding reed and laughing as a breeze moved the stalks and the bittern swayed with them.

We'd seen quite a few Bald Eagles during the day--a couple driving, one at Avalon, and two immature birds flying over the Gull Pond Road. Mike spotted another eagle down the road a bit that didn't seem right to him. I got on the bird but raptor spotting is not my forte because looking into a cerulean sky I see birds and floaters and sometimes the floaters distract from the birds. However, I did view this one long enough to see why Mike might think it was a Golden Eagle--head smaller than tail and more of a dihedral than a Bald Eagle ought to have. However, had I been alone I would not "call" the bird myself because it was so high up. However, after Mike consulted some field guides he was positive of his identification and I of course, defer to him. Especially for a year bird.

Our last stop was in our home county of Ocean at The Bridge to Nowhere. We hoped to refind the Eurasian Wigeon that I spotted there last week but came up empty. However, we heard the great swooping sound of swans in flight and turned around to see 5 of them fly by us. At first, we dismissed them as more Pond Pigs but then they started to call--whistle actually-- and we knew we had our FOS Tundra Swans. A great bird to end the day.

For our travels we finished with around 70 species. There are a couple left off this list (like Great Black-backed Gull) because I'm a location birder and I wasn't about to make a list for a bird I saw on a light pole on a causeway. The birds I did count and list are below:
Brant   28
Canada Goose   25
Mute Swan   18
Tundra Swan   5
Wood Duck   2
Gadwall   2
American Wigeon   3
American Black Duck   11
Mallard   48
Northern Pintail   5
Green-winged Teal   3
Black Scoter   300
Ruddy Duck   5
Red-throated Loon   3
Common Loon   1
Pied-billed Grebe   1
Northern Gannet   10
Double-crested Cormorant   5
American Bittern   1
Great Blue Heron   3
Great Egret   2
Snowy Egret   1
Little Blue Heron   1
Turkey Vulture   3
Golden Eagle   1
Northern Harrier   1
Bald Eagle   4
Red-tailed Hawk   1
American Coot   15
American Oystercatcher   185
Black-bellied Plover   10
Marbled Godwit   20
Red Knot   50
Sanderling   10
Dunlin   201
Purple Sandpiper   3
Long-billed Dowitcher   1
Greater Yellowlegs   202
Willet   50
Lesser Yellowlegs   5
Parasitic Jaeger   1
Laughing Gull   1
Ring-billed Gull   1
Herring Gull   19
Royal Tern   1
Rock Pigeon   1
Red-bellied Woodpecker   1
Peregrine Falcon   1
Blue Jay   3
American Crow   30
Carolina Chickadee   3
Red-breasted Nuthatch   5
Carolina Wren   6
Golden-crowned Kinglet   1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet   1
Eastern Bluebird   3
Hermit Thrush   3
American Robin   3
Northern Mockingbird   1
Palm Warbler   1
Yellow-rumped Warbler   20
Dark-eyed Junco   3
Savannah Sparrow   1
Song Sparrow   7
Swamp Sparrow   2
Northern Cardinal   2
Red-winged Blackbird   5
American Goldfinch   1
House Sparrow   3

And one more picture of the bittern:

No comments:

Post a Comment