Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Farewell to Shorebirds, + Willow Flycatchers and Other Notes

This evening I took a one mile (each way) walk along Delaware Bay near Villas on the rising tide, about an hour after low, and, like Tom Reed reports below, found a few lingering shorebirds. More than a few, actually: 50 Ruddy Turnstones, 30 Red Knots, 250 Sanderlings, and 75 Semi-palmated Sandpipers. My notes on all of them read: "Some basic [i.e. basic or non-breeding plumage] and thin; others breeding and fat." I'm guessing if I take the same walk tomorrow night, many of the fat breeding-plumage birds will be gone. There's a strong south wind this evening.

One breeding-plumaged Semipalmated Sandpiper wore a green leg flag but had an un-dyed breast. The lack of dye means this bird was banded by NJAS researchers last year or earlier, and the green flag means it was banded in the U.S. (yellow is South America, white is Canada). Current year color-flagged semis are dyed on the breast to make them easier to re-sight, but the dyed feathers molt out by the time the birds make their next migration.

I used a clicker on the Laughing Gulls, and came up with 1240. A few Black Skimmers, a few Forster's and Least Terns, a single Common Tern (these are uncommon up the bay shore) and the other "usual suspects" like Ospreys and Snowy Egrets rounded out the evening. A Northern Mockingbird fed a fledged but earnestly begging baby on the beach.

Early this morning a foggy bike ride from the bayshore out to Stone Harbor and back yielded a Willow Flycatcher in the shrub island at the base of the free bridge to Nummy Island, and another at the parking lot for Stone Harbor Point at Second Avenue. A few Royal Terns were audible wherever bridges crossed major channels; I wonder where and whether they will nest this year. Every hedgerow and brushy area away from the coast had at least one Orchard Oriole, this is quite a common bird down here in the right habitat, and they sing like crazy in early June at dawn and dusk.

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