Saturday, March 11, 2017

Brig 3/11--Snow Bunting

Mike & I started the day down at the Davies Sports Complex in Cape May county, where we were hoping to add the Tufted Duck to his year list. After standing in front of a virtually empty pond for over an hour in the cold & wind, we decided our efforts were best spent elsewhere. We then banged around a good portion of the county, racking up a decent number of species but, aside from a Tree Swallow heard at Cape May Point State Park, nothing either of us could add to the year list (Mike could add it).

As is our wont, we ended up at Brig around 2:30 in the afternoon. It was barely above freezing and the wind was still icy, but the car was warm and most of the ducks were fairly close in. Our "good" birds included a beautiful drake Wood Duck at the entrance ponds, a Blue-winged Teal (FOY for Mike) that flew into the Gull Pond, as well as a drake & hen Common Merganser along the drive. The large Canvasback flock that has been wintering there has diminished to a "mere" 35 birds.

It wasn't until we were on the north dike that I got anything new for the year. Out of the scrubby grass along the channel a small flock of about 15 birds flew up and kept going, erratically, along the drive as we followed them. White, with brown blacks, they couldn't really be anything other than Snow Buntings. They landed in an area of short grass on the mud flats within the impoundment to the south and disappeared, "melted away," said Mike, appropriate for Snow Buntings. The few times I've seen Snow Buntings at Brig, the north dike was always the area. eBird flagged the sighting--whether because of the number of buntings or because the bird is considered rare this time of year I'm not certain. Obviously, photography was not an option--we had a hard enough time just keeping them in sight as they flew crazily in front of us.

For the day we managed around 70 species, which is really quite good for late winter. At Brig itself my list was totaled 35:
Snow Goose 22
Canada Goose 80
Mute Swan 3
Tundra Swan 20
Wood Duck 1 Entrance Pond
Gadwall 5
American Black Duck 150
Mallard 12
Blue-winged Teal 1 Gull Pond
Northern Shoveler 10
Northern Pintail 50
Green-winged Teal (American) 30
Canvasback 35
Ring-necked Duck 1 Gull Pond
Bufflehead 6
Hooded Merganser 10
Common Merganser 2 South dike, past observation tower
Ruddy Duck 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 3
Northern Harrier 2
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 1
Herring Gull 20
Peregrine Falcon 1
American Crow 7
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 4
Eastern Bluebird 4 Cut down area by Refuge Overlook
Snow Bunting 15 White birds with brown backs. Undulating, erratic flight. North dike
Dark-eyed Junco 1
White-throated Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 3
Northern Cardinal 1 Visitor's Center
Red-winged Blackbird 4 Visitor's Center feeder

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