Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shorebird Workshop: Marbled Godwits at Nummy, a Whole Lot of Peep Plus Merlin and Rails at Port Norris

We began day two of CMBO's Shorebird Workshop at the base of the free bridge from Stone Harbor to Nummy Island, on the Nummy Island side, hoping to extract godwits and who knows what else. "We" means me and Michael O'Brien, plus a cast of fun and already quite skilled participants. Leading a shorebird workshop with Michael is a privelege - he wrote the book, literally (The Shorebird Guide, co-authored by Richard Crossley and Kevin Karlson) - and I find myself learning as well as teaching.

Three Marbled Godwits fed on the shoreline across Great Channel, with many dowitchers and other species, but we missed Red Knot, and that means we'll probably miss it for the workshop unless we find one at Brigantine tomorrow, which I've done before but only rarely. The only eastern Willet we saw was out in the marsh near a group of feeding egrets and herons, which happily included several Tri-coloreds, a bird which has declined to my eye in recent years, as well as several Little Blues. Many Western Willets fed along the shore of Great Channel, looking very godwit-like. Check out Michael's article on this site, in Tigrina Times under Field Identification, for info on how to separate Eastern and Western Willets, a likely split sometime soon.

After some time well spent at the Center for Research and Education in Goshen learning from the master (that would be Michael), we headed for Port Norris, hoping to catch the tide right. High tide for Bivalve was forecast for 6:05 p.m., and we were at the Port Norris Strawberry Avenue access from 2:00 to 4:30, which seemed just perfect - when we left the tide had flooded out any shorebird habitat. So 4 hours to 2 hours before high tide, or probably 2 to 4 hours after, seems about right for shorbirding that site. The rising tide made it fun in that shorebirds were continually pushed closer to us, and there was lots of movement.

A perched Merlin greeted us at Port Norris, and later a juvenile Peregrine made life miserable for a patch of Forster's Terns, but the absolute highlight was a juvenile Clapper Rail, still sporting some fuzzy tufts of down, which got itself trapped in a tiny clump of spartina as the tide rose. It proceeded to walk/swim from clump to clump until it reached the concealment of a large patch - within 20 yards of the boardwalk the whole time!

Shorebird wise, the most interesting thing at Port Norris (besided great overall abundance of birds) was the presence of juvenile, and only juvenile, Western Sandpipers, and adult, only adult, semi-palms. The juv. Westerns made for point blank studies from the boardwalk - of course I had no camera with me for either them or the juvenile Ruddy Turnstone that perched, every feather perfect, on the railing with a group of Forster's Terns. As Michael said, "Well, it is a tern-stone". . .

Full lists for Nummy Island and Port Norris are below.

Location: Nummy Island
Observation date: 8/23/07
Notes: CMBO Shorebird workshop, day 2. Tide falling, from between 3 hours to low to 1 hour to low.
Number of species: 43
Double-crested Cormorant 10
Great Egret 10
Snowy Egret 10
Little Blue Heron 3
Tricolored Heron 4
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Glossy Ibis 10
Osprey 5
Clapper Rail 5
Black-bellied Plover 10
Semipalmated Plover 10
American Oystercatcher 25
Greater Yellowlegs 15
Willet 25 1 juv Eastern on the island proper, the rest Westerns along Great Channel/the mussel beds
Marbled Godwit 3
Ruddy Turnstone 10
Sanderling 10
Semipalmated Sandpiper 5
Western Sandpiper 10 adults were all we detected
Least Sandpiper 5
Short-billed Dowitcher 100
Laughing Gull 50
Herring Gull 10
Great Black-backed Gull 20
Caspian Tern 2 adult with begging juv in tow
Royal Tern 10
Common Tern 30
Black Skimmer 10
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 5
Eastern Kingbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 1
Yellow Warbler 2
Magnolia Warbler 1
American Redstart 1
Northern Waterthrush 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow 1 heard (M. O'Brien pointed it out, call note)
Song Sparrow 2
Bobolink 5
Red-winged Blackbird 5
Boat-tailed Grackle 10
House Sparrow 5
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Location: Bivalve - Strawberry Ave.
Observation date: 8/23/07
Notes: CMBO's shorebird workshop.
Number of species: 30
Great Egret 10
Snowy Egret 40
Glossy Ibis 3
Osprey 10 We saw one juv. that had caught itself a fish.
Merlin 1
Peregrine Falcon 2
Clapper Rail 5 Incl one juv that darted grass clump to grass clump as tide rose.
Black-bellied Plover 40
Semipalmated Plover 1000
Greater Yellowlegs 20
Lesser Yellowlegs 20
Willet 1
Spotted Sandpiper 2
Ruddy Turnstone 4 1 juv
Semipalmated Sandpiper 3000 all adults
Western Sandpiper 20 all juvs
Least Sandpiper 20
Short-billed Dowitcher 250 ads and juvs, mostly ads. At least one hendersoni.
Laughing Gull 25
Herring Gull 10
Great Black-backed Gull 25
Caspian Tern 2
Forster's Tern 50
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2
Eastern Kingbird 5
Purple Martin 10
Tree Swallow 5
Marsh Wren 1
Common Yellowthroat 5
American Goldfinch 5
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

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