Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Marbled Godwits, Red Knots, State Park Report

I checked the area around the free bridge from Stone Harbor to Nummy Island this morning before work. Low tide was at 5:22 a.m., but with the persistent (emphasis: persistent!) northeast winds of late, plus the recent full moon, most of the mudflats were already covered. The one remaining little island south/ocean side of the bridge, however, had two Marbled Godwits standing on it, with a few Western Willets and other shorebirds. As the tide came in, the flats on the north/inland side of the bridge accumulated shorebirds until they, too, were covered. These including the two relocating godwits, 120 Red Knots, 10 or so Western Willets, and small numbers of peep, Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, and American Oystercatchers. Two Caspian Terns joined the Royals, Forsters and Commons.

I was birding from the Stone Harbor side of the bridge, which has good light conditions in the early morning - just watch for traffic, which has delightfully diminished after Labor Day. By 7:45 a.m., about 2 hours 20 minutes after the forecast low tide, there was almost no shorebird habitat left. Normally this area seems at its best at mid tide or a bit later, i.e. at least 3 hours before or after low, when there is plenty of habitat still exposed but not so much that birds are dispersed.

Off Stone Harbor, the ocean held. . .nothing. Only Great Black-backed Gulls were braving the wind. There was a decent Tree Swallow tornado moving around the parking lot, maybe 1000 birds and one of my favorite fall spectacles.

I heard someone had a Golden-winged Warbler at Higbee today. Karl Lukens sent the following report from the state park: "The state park was fairly active this morning with numerous Gnatcatchers, Red-eyed Vireos, Redstarts, and Baltimore Orioles. Several Empidonax Flycatchers were seen but only one, a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, was ID'ed. Many Bobolinks flying overhead. -Karl (Steve, Warren, Kathy, Roger, Tom)"

I've been bumping into Northern Waterthrushes everywhere - in my yard, next to the Stone Harbor parking lot, next to the Dennisville WaWa, here at CMBO-CRE. NOWA numbers are peaking now, and that's a lot - thanks to this bird's vast breeding range.

There isn't a west wind in sight, well, a front may cross the area something like next Tuesday and bring west winds after it. However, winds will be north and skies clear on Saturday, or so says the forecast right now, thus the prospects are improved for hawks during the day, and maybe a landbird flight Saturday night.

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