Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gannet Spectacle

In a typical and natural progession for a day with ill weather, a number of birders accreted at the Sunset Grill's covered deck overlooking the Concrete Ship and the mouth of Delaware Bay on this rainy and foggy morning. We enjoyed a marvelous Northern Gannet pageant, as about 50 per minute emerged from the fog up the bay, and passed mostly just beyond the Concrete Ship as they left the bay for ocean waters. We postulated that perhaps these were birds crossing the bay that, because of the fog, could not see the NJ shore, and when they did, veered towards the ocean, thus passing our viewpoint. The show lasted a full hour, and a few still passed when we left.

About 40 Red-throated Loons were on the water around the ship, and at one point I observed two individuals north of the ship interact, displaying open wings and wailing like gulls. They eventually flew off, kekking at each other.

An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull with the clean white head of breeding plumage joined a group of other gulls on the beach, as did one very tired American Crow we watched come in off the bay, flying almost on the water and apparently quite tired from crossing the bay in rain and fog. A number of Forster's Terns and Bonaparte's Gull were evident, and some gave great views as they perched on the pilings up-bay from Sunset Beach. A couple Laughing Gulls passed, as well. Most of the scoters were far offshore, and the numbers have thinned, although they remain in the many hundreds or few thousands.

I kicked a Northern Harrier up while walking towards Pond Creek, a single Boat-tailed Grackle flew over, and Pond Creek Marsh, quite full of water, hosted Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintails, and other ducks.

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