Monday, August 12, 2013

Forsythe NWR (Brigantine), August 10th

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.