Friday, July 25, 2014

Back to Routine

"Routine" in late July means that I am at the shore and looking for the shorebirds to return from their nesting grounds in the arctic. It is always a delight to see the first of them trickle into our beach in the Villas. So it was this past weekend.  Harvey arranged for a few of us to go to Forsythe (Brig) together for some early shorebirds - or as he put it "the shorebird shuffle". I met Harvey at his house at 5 AM and we headed north on the Garden State Parkway to meet the others at 6 AM. Mary, Marc and Eric were waiting for us in the parking lot despite the fact that a mega rare bird was being seen in north Jersey at the same time. They were there despite the miserable weather - raining sideways. They were there because they know, just like Harvey knows, that something good could be at Brig in late July.  

I won't hold you in suspense. There was nothing "good" at Brig when we were there. The only good thing was the company. Mary and Harvey are self proclaimed shorebird nuts and they sure proved it by pointing out subtle and obvious field marks on the common shorebirds that we did manage to see.  We spent much less time at Brig than we normally do. Harvey and I dropped the others back at the parking lot so that they could speed up the Parkway to see the European Golden Plover. I hope they got it. Harvey and I headed south back to Cape May.

The weather finally cleared overnight. I was able to get my first banded Semipalmated Sandpiper resighting this morning. Good ol' 54J arrived on the Villas beach sometime overnight and was as feisty as ever. Here he is from Monday morning. 

SESA - 54J - 07/21/2014
And here he is on the same beach from August 4, 2012. Overcast skies make him look more gray in this photo.
SESA 54J - 08/04/2012
I can't wait for his buddies to return. The beach isn't the same without them. Of course, the Forster's Terns don't seem to mind. This one cruised by at eye level this morning. 

Forster's Tern
This was an odd thing - a Least Sandpiper on the Villas beach acting like a Semipalmated Sandpiper. You can tell that its a Least by the yellow legs. Compare to 54J above which looks almost identical except with dark legs. Least Sandpipers are usually found in more muddy habitat. Maybe he was waiting for the tide to go out and expose the muddy yucky low tide line that occurs on our beach.
LESA - waiting for some mud

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