Monday, October 17, 2011

Brigantine and Tuckerton Oct 16th

(Catching up with old neglected sightings)

I went to Tuckerton and Brigantine NWR on a windy but sunny Sunday morning to pursue reported Ammodramus sparrows, with little success, but ended up with my first Cape May Warbler for NJ (other omissions that you might consider surprising include Bay-breasted, Wilson's and Tennessee).

At Tuckerton the brisk wind had the passerines seeking cover, so it was a bad day for sparrows and I was a little early for a high tide to push the sparrows out of the saltmarsh. Instead I contented myself with multiple flyover shorebird flocks: Black-bellied Plover, Red Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Semipalmated/Western Sandpipers (uncertain which). A sheltered spot along Great Bay Blvd yielded one or perhaps two Cape May Warblers but it was mainly Yellow-rumped Warblers in that flock. Northern Flicker along that road, somewhat out of habitat also provided the impression of migration. There was also a brief glimpse of a fat hummingbird. I'm calling it Ruby-throated by default, not least of all because fall migrant hummingbirds are often loaded with fat prior to migration and look bigger - but I really can't rule out Selasphorus hummingbird (Rufous/Allen's) for which the date and the location would also be possible.

Further down the road at Brigantine NWR there were some shorebird flocks, largely the same composition but without the Knot, and quite a few waterfowl. For some strange reason I had left the scope at home so I lacked things like Wigeon and Gadwall but the other usual suspects: Am. Black Duck, Mallard, Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, abundant Northern Pintail. There was also a small flock of Snow Geese - far short of the population that usually winters here so apparently a vanguard. Unlike Brant Geese, which tend to do the whole migration in one flight, non-stop, Snow Geese stage at multiple points as they "drift" south.

There was a lot of raptor activity at Brig, including at least two Bald Eagles, a few Northern Harriers and one or two Peregrines which were enthusiastically harassing anything small in sight (so I assume they were hungry). There were also noteworthy flocks of two other species: Forster's Terns present in quite high numbers, and also good numbers of Double-crested Cormorant, apparently mostly immatures.

Snow Goose
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Black-bellied Plover
Red Knot
Western or Semipalmated Sandpiper
Dowitcher sp.
Forster's Tern
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Northern Flicker
Tree Swallow
Cape May Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Song Sparrow
Boat-tailed Grackle

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