Monday, July 11, 2011

Brigantine NWR

A warm Sunday visit to Brigantine, although I actually started off at Great Bay Blvd in Tuckerton, just to the north. Along Great Bay there were multiple singing Seaside Sparrows but I was unable to come up with Saltmarsh (Sharp-tailed) Sparrow. Also there: Boat-tailed Grackle, Laughing Gull, distant Forster's Terns, inevitable Red-winged Blackbirds, sizable flocks of Tree Swallow on the wires, and I heard a couple of Clapper Rails. A couple of Least-ish Sandpipers flew over the road, a reminder that fall shorebird migration had already started.

Then to Brigantine where the Purple Martin colony was in full swing. The tide appeared to be high but on the way down. Activity at Brig wasn't all that impressive, especially on the shorebird front: Short-billed Dowitcher, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper. OK, the Stilt was certainly a decent find, and was an adult in fading alternate plumage. At this time of year pretty much all of the birds are adult in faded alternate plumage since it's too early for juveniles to be in a condition to migrate south. Terns included the inevitable large numbers of Forster's which nest out in the saltmarsh and are just starting to show signs of molt in a few cases (into basic plumage). At the south-eastern sluice there was a single Common Tern (semi-reliable here) and a few Gull-billed Terns were dotted around the place. Canada Geese appeared to be at an all-time low for a summer in which I'd normally expect to find lots of juveniles along the drive. There were several Osprey nests with young but the really photographically convenient nest from last year was inactive - I thought that one was a little too close to the wildlife drive and is inactive in most years. I didn't find Saltmarsh at Brig either, but Seaside Sparrow, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, Indigo Bunting and Blue Grosbeak were present. The male Blue Grosbeak was singing and was my first one for the year - not at all common this far north. A fairly typical results for Brigantine but nothing at all compelling.

(Update: 7/17 there were pretty much the same species but also Least Tern family group with juveniles).

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