Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sandpipers, Owls

A slightly surreal experience on Saturday morning: after finding six Rusty Blackbirds at Silver Lake Nature Center in Bristol PA (my go-to spot for these last two years), I ended up driving east to take in a pretty unusual shorebird combination in a muddy field in New Egypt: one Northern Lapwing, two Wilson's Snipe and six or seven Pectoral Sandpipers.  I rarely if ever see Pecs in spring migration, but then I don't spend much time checking muddy cattle fields in central Jersey.  (I'm a little blase about the Lapwing despite it being a big rarity, since I've seen lots in Britain and this is the 4th time I've seen the [same] birds in the USA in the last 6 months).  I usually experience shorebird migration down on the NJ Delaware Bay shore during may, where Heislerville WMA features tens of thousands of sandpipers feeding en masse prior to their push to Arctic breeding grounds.

Afterwards a little birding in Central Park on Sat and Sun included my main targets: Northern Saw-whet and Barred Owls, and a couple of unexpected spring birds: a female Eastern Towhee and a Brown Thrasher. While the Barred Owl has been impacting the rodent population of the entire winter, the thrasher and towhee are likely local overwintering birds that have wandered into the park.  It's pretty early for a female Towhee and fairly early for a Thrasher if these were longer-distance migrants and they are semi-hardy birds that often succeed in overwintering in milder years.  (It's not as remarkable as the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak that turned up at a feeder in NJ over the weekend, either).

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