Sunday, April 9, 2017

Brig 4/9--Caspian Tern, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Common Yellowthroat

Caspian Tern over the Gull Pond
On the way down to Brig this morning, Mike & I were trying to come up with the "number" for the day, that is, how many species we'd find. We both came up with 65, based on how many waterfowl we thought would remain and how many shorebirds might be coming in, plus some allowance for early migrants. We blasted through that number. There were many more ducks left in the impoundments than we expected (though in low numbers, aside from Northern Shovelers) but not as many shorebird species as we had hoped. However, somehow, by the time we'd left the Gull Pond to meet his group, we'd already recorded 30 something species and a pre-drive walk in the woods with the group produced quite a few more. A few swallow species, a few warblers, raptors, icterids...they all add up.

First year bird for us was on the way down to the Gull Pond when we noticed that a few Purple Martins were vying with Tree Swallows for housing space in the martin colony array. Then, down at the Gull Pond, among the many Tree Swallows we found our first Barn Swallow of the year. Then, a little later, we both heard the "witchety-wichety-witch" of a Common Yellowthroat, a warbler that I have found, is often a lot more difficult to see early in the spring than later in the summer. We had a few other cool birds down there like Brown Thrasher and American Coot. Then we headed back to the parking lot.

Actually, our fourth year bird was also found at the Gull Pond when we returned with the group and found a big ole Caspian Tern flying and hovering over the water. Many in the group also were lucky enough to see the Golden Eagle that has been a regular at Brig for the last few weeks. I, alas, had an eagle in my scope, only it turned out to be the wrong eagle. By the time I was aware that the bird they were describing was not the bird I was watching, the rarity was out of sight. This is the 2nd time I've missed the Golden Eagle at Brig. I am curiously sanguine about the lacuna in my year list.

Snow Goose (blue morph)
Our first trip around the dikes produced lots of birds, many new for the group, like Glossy Ibis and Blue-winged Teal, but nothing I hadn't seen before. Snow Geese numbers, which a month ago were in the many thousands, were reduced to a paltry 6, but one of them was a blue morph, very close to the road, giving all excellent views.

On our 2nd circuit of the dikes we found the bird that a lot of the group, including Bob Auster, were anxious to see--the pre-alternate plumage Black-headed Gull. ("Pre-alternate plumage" makes me sound like I know what I'm talking about, right?) For Mike and I this was old hat as we'd seen it on March 31 though it was good to find it today in nice weather instead of the downpour of our previous sighting.

From the North Dike
By the time we got to the north dike on the 2nd trip (when I was riding in Bob's car) I was approaching my 8th hour of birding and my attention, I admit, was starting to flag. The caravan was stopped and I was talking to Bob when I look to the side and saw a row of gulls. The last bird, though, was the Caspian Tern (I'm assuming the same one we'd seen) and this one was much closer and stationery, so I took the opportunity to photograph this, as every trip leader must proclaim, largest tern in the world.

For the day I wound up with 73 species, Mike a couple more. We were both a little surprised at the total and we're both wondering how big our list can be when we do a "Century Run" with Pete on May 6 for the World Series of Birding. Join us if you can.

Snow Goose 6 south dike
Brant 100
Canada Goose 50
Mute Swan 4
Wood Duck 7
Gadwall 4
American Black Duck 25
Mallard 12
Blue-winged Teal 11
Northern Shoveler 52
Green-winged Teal 6
Ring-necked Duck 8
Bufflehead 25
Hooded Merganser 6 From south dike
Red-breasted Merganser 6
Ruddy Duck 2
Horned Grebe 1
Double-crested Cormorant 30
Great Blue Heron 5
Great Egret 30
Snowy Egret 15
Glossy Ibis 6
Black Vulture 1
Turkey Vulture 2
Osprey 6
Northern Harrier 2
Bald Eagle 3
American Coot 3 Gull Pond
American Oystercatcher 2
Dunlin 300
Greater Yellowlegs 8
Lesser Yellowlegs
Black-headed Gull 1 Continuing. Turtle Cove. Red bill and feet, smudges on head.
Laughing Gull 1
Ring-billed Gull 3
Herring Gull 50
Great Black-backed Gull 3
Caspian Tern 1 First seen over Gull Pond, later saw it from North Dike
Forster's Tern 20
Mourning Dove 2
Belted Kingfisher 1 Gull Pond
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Woods
Northern Flicker 1 Heard
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue Jay 3
American Crow 2
Fish Crow 10
Purple Martin 5
Tree Swallow 20
Barn Swallow 1
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 3
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1 Picnic tables
Carolina Wren 4 Heard and seen in woods
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Eastern Bluebird 2
American Robin 4
Brown Thrasher 2 Gull Pond
European Starling 5
Common Yellowthroat 1 Heard Gull Pond
Pine Warbler 5
Chipping Sparrow 2
Field Sparrow 1 Heard, upland section
White-throated Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 5
Swamp Sparrow 1
Eastern Towhee 1 Heard, woods
Northern Cardinal 3
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Boat-tailed Grackle 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
House Finch 4
American Goldfinch 1

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