Friday, August 24, 2007

30 Shorebirds including Hudwit, plus Spoonbill and how to age backlit peep. . .

[The sleeping bird in the center of this photo, digiscoped backlit at 20 power, was one of the "final exam" quiz birds for our workshop. Click to enlarge - and can you identify it and the surrounding species? After three days of practice, most of the participants could. Photo by Don Freiday].

CMBO's Cape May School of Birding Shorebird Workshop finished today with 30 shorebird (sandpiper and plover) species over the three days of the workshop, and a whole lot of fun was had by all. The Roseate Spoonbill flyby at 8:45 this morning at Brig, from the gull tower, was certainly appreciated by all participants (and myself and Michael O'Brien, since it was a state lifer all around) even if it didn't add to the shorebird list.

I had been wondering if we'd encounter Hudsonian Godwit, given the northeasterly flow and rain for the past few days, and got that wish - sort of. Two Hudwits flew over the south dike at Brig, headed north and calling. Unfortunately not everyone got on them in time, but there was much else to see. Hudsonian Godwits usually migrate to South America by leaving the northeast and flying south across the Atlantic Ocean, so rain and east winds are good conditions to see them.

[Here's an easier chance at the quiz species from above - White-rumped Sandpiper, top center, Photo by Don Freiday. ]

Brigantine was loaded with shorebirds (full list below), especially on our second pass around, when the tide was nearing high and all the salt marsh mud flats and beaches were covered with water. Western Sandpipers piled into the impoundments, and we also extracted 5 Red Knots, a species I feared we had missed for the workshop.

[Red Knot scratching it's chin. Perhaps it's wondering how to age Western Sandpipers. . .Photo by Don Freiday.]

As we worked on our quiz white-rumped, we also picked out backlit Western Sandpipers from the nearby flocks. Michael hazarded that one of them, because it was slender, was a juvenile, which shows you just how far birding by shape and size can take you.

Our Brig list follows; scroll down to see the results from the past two days. Lots of birds, lots of laughing, lots of learning.

Location: E B Forsythe NWR
Observation date: 8/24/07
Notes: CMBO's Shorebird Workshop. With Michael O'Brien. Counts are VERY rough.
Number of species: 74
Canada Goose 50
Wood Duck 2
American Black Duck 50
Mallard 25
Northern Shoveler 10
Green-winged Teal 40
Double-crested Cormorant 200
Great Blue Heron 5
Great Egret 25
Snowy Egret 25
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
Glossy Ibis 25
Roseate Spoonbill 1 First or second year
Turkey Vulture 5
Osprey 10
Northern Harrier 2
Cooper's Hawk 1 Can't swear this wasn't a Sharpie.
Peregrine Falcon 2
Clapper Rail 5
Common Moorhen 1
Black-bellied Plover 400
Semipalmated Plover 400
American Oystercatcher 20
Greater Yellowlegs 100
Lesser Yellowlegs 100
Willet 5 1 western, 2 juv eastern, 2 u eastern
Spotted Sandpiper 5
Whimbrel 5
Hudsonian Godwit 2 flyovers heading north, may have landed. RElated to northeasterly flow?
Ruddy Turnstone 5
Red Knot 5
Semipalmated Sandpiper 3000
Western Sandpiper 500
Least Sandpiper 50
White-rumped Sandpiper 50 1 adult was nearly full breeding plumage
Stilt Sandpiper 20
Short-billed Dowitcher 800 a few already full winter - lighter gray than long-billeds
Long-billed Dowitcher 50 all adults. Tended to cluster. Wing molt usually evident.
Laughing Gull 500
Herring Gull 700
Great Black-backed Gull 100
Gull-billed Tern 10 several juveniles
Caspian Tern 2
Common Tern 2
Forster's Tern 150
Black Tern 2
Black Skimmer 75
Mourning Dove 10
Eastern Kingbird 5
Fish Crow 50
Tree Swallow 300
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 10
Bank Swallow 10
Carolina Wren 5
Marsh Wren 2
American Robin 5
Northern Mockingbird 5
European Starling 5
Cedar Waxwing 5
Yellow Warbler 10
Common Yellowthroat 5

Sharp-tailed Sparrow sp. 1 If Sibley's right that juv's of this species have few streaks and are brighter than Salt-marsh, then this looked plumage-wise like a Nelson's. However, Michael O'Brien noted, "the juv sharp-tailed sparrow we were looking at looked and sounded like a Saltmarsh to me. The degree of breast streaking is more variable than Sibley indicates and they are often very bright. In terms of bill shape and size (the only solid structural feature I know of), it looked like a Saltmarsh to me. This is probably an under-appreciated ID problem that deserves more attention. For now, though, there's no evidence that Nelson's should be in NJ for another 3-4 weeks."

Seaside Sparrow 10
Song Sparrow 5
Northern Cardinal 1
Blue Grosbeak 1
Bobolink 20
Red-winged Blackbird 300
Eastern Meadowlark 5
Boat-tailed Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 10
House Finch 5
American Goldfinch 5
House Sparrow 5
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

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