Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jamaica Bay, August 28th

Despite a really strong showing with Ruffs early in the season, Jamaica Bay has seemed to be pretty anemic when it comes to more regular shorebird species.  Recent deluges (e.g. weekend of Sept 9th) have probably filled up the pond enough to eliminate any more shorebirding until next summer.

I made three visits in late August culminating in the best visit on Aug 28th.  On Aug 26th the best bird was a single White-rumped Sandpiper amongst Semipalmated Sandpipers.  On Aug 27th the south end was fairly slow (Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover) but at least I picked out the American White Pelican all the way at the north end (it's huge and that yellow bill sticks out even through the heat haze over the full length of the pond).

Finally on the afternoon of Aug 28th I had a little more luck - some cooperative common species at the entrance to the north end (Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover) and then an accumulation of shorebirds at the end of the first spit - north of what is called Dead Man's Cove which despite its boot-sucking nature has not killed any birders as far as I'm aware.  It's covered a few in mud, however.

South of where I was standing the American Avocet was seen in the distance and then an American Golden-Plover flew in.  After it settled down I made an approach on it, a whole flock of Black-bellied Plovers flew in - they hardly ever are tame enough to accumulate on the spit in front of you, but this time they came in after a (very experienced pro) bird photographer managed to flush them all off the adjacent spit.  In with this flock came two Red Knots - an adult and a juvenile - which periodically would wander down the shore line towards us (it was us by this time - two more photographers including the pro had joined me).  So I spent a "pleasant" afternoon lying in the mud getting chewed on by biting flies taking pictures of plovers, knots, the occasional sandpiper and a few Common Terns.  The Avocet and the American Golden (my first adult on the East Pond) were by far the most interesting, but for once this year there was a good number of shorebirds lined up in front of me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Southern NJ - August 25th/26th

A non-birding trip to the Atlantic City area led me to (inevitably) add in some visits to the Brigantine Division of Forsythe NWR and a quick look around Cape May.

I started the 25th on the beach at Longport NJ, which is at the south end of the Atlantic City island and not a specific birding location.  Nevertheless there were good numbers of Sanderling on the beach and a few Semipalmated Plovers mixed in - not really the bird you associate with feeding at the surf line but a reminder that on migration these birds do get everywhere.  A local Peregrine Falcon and an Osprey kept the shorebirds moving around.

At Sunset Beach in Cape May (aka the Concrete Ship) there were no pelagics, but instead a handful of terns - Common, Forster's, Royal and with three Black Terns in the mix.  A few shorebirds on the beach were Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone and one Semipalmated Sandpiper.

At the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge (the place that I always call South Cape May Meadows - its former name) had a few shorebirds on the ponds (Least/Semipalmated Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs) and quite a few flyby terns - mostly Forster's and one Gull-billed over the preserve and Royal Tern seen flying up the beach.  A juvenile Peregrine Falcon spent a little time scaring things on the pond (including Green-winged Teal) but there were few passerines in evidence.  Two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were seen migrating through.

At Brig over the two days I had basically the same birds on both visits: huge numbers of Tree Swallows (with some Barns) over the marsh, a typical assortment of shorebirds (Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstone, Dowitcher sp, Black-bellied Plover), Egrets, Herons and Ibis and the usual raptors: Osprey and Peregrines.  The first Northern Harrier for the colder months was over the marsh.  The tide was very high for the first visit which led me to see a Clapper Rail sprinting across an open channel between the flooded saltmarsh.

Nothing unusual or unseasonal on this trip, although the Black Terns were my first for the year.