Monday, September 04, 2006

Birding after the Storm

First off, I was so sad to hear about the untimely passing of Steve Irwin. My heart goes out to the family of this wonderful ambassador of wildlife.

The remnants of Ernesto dumped a ton of rain and heavy winds on NJ on Saturday. Birds normally found out at sea were blown or carried inland, even as far as the Delaware River. Cape May hosted Sooty Terns, Bridled Terns, all three Jaeger species, and scores of Red and Red-necked Phalaropes, among other pelagic birds. Some friends of mine even spotted a Bridled Tern sitting side-by-side with a Roseate Tern on a picnic table at a nearby coastal lake! I didn't brave the weather and stayed home for the day. Sunday morning I decided to head out to see what I could find.

I quickly discovered that the seabirds had departed. I ended up at Sandy Hook and ran into 3 fellow birders. We headed to the far north end of the Hook. There we found lots of terns and tons of shorebirds. The terns were all Common Terns and Forster's Terns, with a few Black Terns thrown in. Shorebird diversity was great. We found 18 species of shorebirds including 2 American Golden-Plover, Piping Plover, a ton of White-rumped Sandpipers, and my first Buff-breasted Sandpipers (pictured). I was thrilled to find the "buffies" because I had originally planned to go to a nearby sod farm where they had also been seen. Most shorebirds have a subtle beauty, but the Buff-breasted Sandpiper is extra beautiful.

The super high tides at Sandy Hook also washed up a ton of wildlife on the beach. There were literally thousands of Common Starfish stranded on the beach for a several hundred yard stretch of beach. Gobs of Horseshoe Crabs, Spider Crabs, and Blue Crabs had also washed ashore. We found a dead Dogfish and the parks service has found and buried a dead young Minke Whale.

Although the day didn't turn up any pelagic species blown in from the storm, it was still a great birding day with great weather and a gorgeous new bird!

1 comment:

LauraHinNJ said...

Surprised we didn't run into one another - but then I was busy picking beach plums.