Sunday, November 7, 2010

White-tailed Kite and Brigantine

I made three visits to various parts of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. First and last were a visit to the Barnegat impoundment (Barnegat division of Forsythe NWR) where there was a persistent White-tailed Kite. The first time around, shortly after dawn, netted various ducks and herons but no kite. The second time around on the way back home the kite had settled on a dead tree in the far distance half-way across the bay, but was visible in scope views and flew briefly while I was there.

In the intervening time I went down to the Brigantine division, the more traditional area for birders visiting Forsythe NWR. En route I stopped at Barnegat Inlet, found the tide very high, a lot of chop in the inlet and very few birds milling around. A roving flock of Juncos and other fly-by passerines suggested migration movement off the north wind.

The tide was also very high at Brigantine, with much of the saltmarsh at least somewhat inundated. A lot of the ducks were coming in at middle altitude and settling into the north-east impoundment. Shorebirds were limited to several flocks of agitated Dunlin and a few Black-bellied Plovers. One of the reasons that they had good reason to be agitated were two Peregrines and several Northern Harriers, although those raptors were harassing a large flock of Green-winged Teal when I saw them. Blue-winged Teal was the best duck, and there was also Northern Pintail, Mallard, many American Black Duck, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser and Ruddy Duck. A small flock of Brant and a moderate-sized flock of Snow Geese were in the impoundments but windy conditions made for few photo ops. The most active part was on the south-east sluice where the influx of water and small fish made for a Double-crested Cormorant and Gull feeding frenzy. Given the wind the passerines kept their head down but I did see a few fly-by Savannah Sparrows.

I returned north via Barnegat impoundment for the White-tailed Kite and a brief visit to Well's Mills County Park where the feeders held only titmice, chickadees and Juncos. At Well's Mills they've also removed the trees to the east of the visitor center which provided some protection around the periodic drainage pond for small birds drinking there. Since it's not a spring-fed pond that patch was also dry - a shame since last winter it did attract some birds in that small area.

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