My birding had gone through a lull after the 5 trips in the first half of 2013, so I was a little behind the curve on shorebirds when I went out to Brigantine on Saturday. I had hopes of getting the more exotic triple of Pectoral-Stilt-White-rumped Sandpipers but came away with only one of those. A couple of consolation prizes.
Dominant numbers were Semipalmated Sandpipers, all but one adults in worn breeding plumage. Short-billed Dowitchers came in second (also one juvenile), with lesser numbers of Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, both Yellowlegs species. What was a surprise were a large number of Stilt Sandpipers, particularly in the freshwater pool, where a ball-park estimate of 100 means that's more than I remember seeing in any single day. Nice additions were American Avocet (my first in NJ), Wilson's Phalarope, two Western Sandpipers with residual rufous scapulars showing in plumage fairly well-advanced into basic/nonbreeding, and a few Whimbrels including four fly-overs. I did not see any Willets, and the Eastern ssp is probably vacating its breeding grounds, to be supplanted by the Western ssp later in the fall. Gull-billed Terns were first-of-year for me - I had around 10 including at least 3 juveniles, with a few Least and Caspians but no Commons this time around. Clapper Rails were also first of year, and I had two venturing cautiously out onto the open mud.
Apart from a full complement of Ospreys (all platforms occupied - I wonder if Hurricane Sandy took down all the dead trees coastally), I had a single Northern Harrier and no Peregrines, although they may have been around since the shorebirds were more than a little skittish.