Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shorebirds and Waders at Heislerville

CMBO's Building Basic Birding Skills workshop spent the afternoon at Heislerville WMA, where the impoundment has been drawn down significantly, and significant numbers of shorebirds are already present. I counted roughly 800 sandpipers and plovers in the impoundments, and this was at low tide when many were out on the mudflats.

Just as impressive were the Glossy Ibis, with at least 350 present in the impoundments and marsh. The Green Heron we saw was my first of the year, and there was a nice mix of ducks including a flock of Bufflehead - wouldn't it be nice if they lingered until the World Series of Birding! And the obligate Bald Eagle flew over - we see eagles everywhere and all the time anymore, which makes it tempting to take them for granted. That's something I will never do, nor will anyone who's birded for more than two decades, because two decades ago, you had to work to see eagles, and when you saw one, you watched it until you couldn't see it anymore, since you didn't know when another would appear.

This is a fun workshop we offer once a year- we deal with mostly how to bird, rather than any particular bird natural history or identification challenges, though like on all our workshops we spend over half our time in the field. Starting with a check of everyone's binocular performance - using eye charts - we go through how to set the diopter, how to get on birds fast, how and where to bird in various habitats and seasons, the effects of weather and tides, birding in a group, birding by ear, useful gear, the nuts and bolts of i.d., and so on.

Today's list for Heislerville is below. We may have overlooked a species or two, and the counts are probably on the low side, since we were focused on learning all aspects of birding rather than racking up a big list.

I hear Worm-eating Warbler, among others, was in at Belleplain today, which is where the workshop will be tomorrow morning. It looks like the winds will be south through midnight at least, so perhaps a few other new migrants will appear. I also hear that a pretty significant northbound flight of cormorants occurred today, with at least a couple thousand seen along the Delaware Bayshore, including some kettling to gain height for their trip north.

Location: Heislerville WMA
Observation date: 4/19/08
Number of species: 44
Canada Goose 10
Mute Swan 10
Gadwall 6
American Black Duck 10
Blue-winged Teal 10
Northern Shoveler 10
Green-winged Teal 40
Bufflehead 15
Red-breasted Merganser 4
Double-crested Cormorant 4
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 5
Snowy Egret 10
Green Heron 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 5
Glossy Ibis 350
Turkey Vulture 10
Osprey 2
Bald Eagle 1
Black-bellied Plover 20
Greater Yellowlegs 300
Lesser Yellowlegs 75
Dunlin 250
Short-billed Dowitcher 100
Laughing Gull 20
Ring-billed Gull 20
Herring Gull 50
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Forster's Tern 15
Black Skimmer 1
Rock Pigeon 5
Mourning Dove 5
Belted Kingfisher 1
Fish Crow 5
Tree Swallow 10
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 5
Barn Swallow 5
Carolina Wren 1
American Robin 1
Pine Warbler 1
Northern Cardinal 1
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 15
Boat-tailed Grackle 20

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