Friday, August 15, 2008

Higbee Beach: "George's Walk," Kingbirds, Orioles, and a Broad-winged, plus a Long-billed Curlew report

I had the bittersweet pleasure of leading, with Steve Weis, CMBO's Friday morning Higbee Beach Walk today. The birds were great, the expected mix of August migrants including many Eastern Kingbirds and Baltimore Orioles, plus Yellow Warblers, a few Northern Waterthrushes, Blue-winged Warbler, and Bobolinks overhead. If you closed your eyes, you could hear the end of summer - only one Field Sparrow, one White-eyed Vireo, and one Yellow-billed Cuckoo joined in with the singing Carolina Wrens. We did detect two juvenile Blue Grosbeaks and two Indigo Buntings, thanks to their respective chink and spit call notes, and a young Broad-winged Hawk soared over the tower field, probably wishing it was somewhere else thanks to the repeated assaults by the kingbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds. Before the walk I saw a couple Black-and-white Warblers, and heard of a Canada Warbler from another birder.

It was bittersweet because George Myers always led our Friday Higbee walks, and had planned to continue them this fall. George volunteered for and supported CMBO since 1997, and gave many, many people great experiences over the years. We've been sharing memories of George here at the office, and I just learned, and this gives me goosebumps, that his CMBO membership renewal form came in today, he had mailed it before he was hospitalized.

I always enjoyed co-leading with George, for many reasons, including that with George along I knew we weren't going to miss many birds. But besides being an ace birder with great ears, he had an overdose of patience and kindness and worked well with birders of all stripes, including beginners, the most important audience for us to reach. The Higbee walk will always be known as the George Myers walk.

Sam Galick began his vigil on the Higbee dike for CMBO's Morning Flight project this morning - look for his results soon under View from the Field, but in the meantime I understand he had a fairly quiet morning but added Dickcissel to our list.

Finally, a boater reported to me a well-described Long-billed Curlew, seen with Whimbrels near Swain Channel, which is east of Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest, an area accessible only by water. This report should be considered unconfirmed, but keep the big sicklebill in mind.

The list from this morning is below.

Location: Higbee Beach
Observation date: 8/15/08
Notes: CMBO George Myers Walk at Higbee Beach
Number of species: 39
Great Blue Heron 1
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Laughing Gull 10
Mourning Dove 10
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2
Chimney Swift 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 5
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 25
White-eyed Vireo 2
American Crow 10
Purple Martin 5
Tree Swallow 5
Barn Swallow 10
Carolina Chickadee 5
Tufted Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 10
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5
American Robin 20
Gray Catbird 2
Cedar Waxwing 25
Blue-winged Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 5
Black-and-white Warbler 1
American Redstart 5
Northern Waterthrush 5
Field Sparrow 2
Northern Cardinal 5
Blue Grosbeak 2
Indigo Bunting 2
Bobolink 5
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 10
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
Baltimore Oriole 10
American Goldfinch 5

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