Bruce Peterjohn and I started our February
'Hundred on the Hook' day at 4:30am
this morning by hearing 6 species of owls (Saw-whet, Great-horned, Barred, Long-eared, Screech, and finally
Barn). At dawn we has several American Woodcocks, Brown
Thrashers, Wood Duck and Winter Wrens. Next we headed to the Broadkill Beach,
finding a Ross' Goose in the south
impoundments along the way, where our first
bird was a Lesser Black-backed Gull, plus Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoter,
Common Loon, Sanderling and
We then headed to the Refuge
Headquarters area where our highlights were Pied-billed Grebe, Gray
Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, and Fox
Sparrow. The State Wildlife Area was
next on our agenda, with American Tree
Sparrows the main highlight. During
our time here the snow began to fall
and the winds picked up. With the snow falling we decided to switch to look
for marsh and bay birds. While this
seemed like a good idea, the weather had other plans as the snow dropped our viability to less than 200
yards. In the end, Prime Hook Road and the bay at Prime Hook only yielded
a few new birds, Gadwall, American
Wigeon, Northern Shoveler and Common Merganser.
With the snow continuing to fall we
decided to head for lunch at 11:30.
Along the way we picked up Rock
Pigeon along Prime Hook Road to get our total for the day 'on the Hook' to 87 species.
After lunch we
headed to the tidal flats at Slaughter
Beach (at the southern end of Bay Ave).
Along the way we picked up a
Merlin and a few Horned Larks. At
Slaughter Beach, with the snow stopped,
we picked up Western Sandpiper on the flats, and an immature Glaucous Gull and several Red-throated Loons on the
bay. We then headed to Fowler Beach for our first visit for the day. Fowler
Beach was mostly dead, but we did picked up a great find with a
Ruddy Turnstone on the concrete
structure and a second view of the Glaucous Gull that moved down from Slaughter Beach.
On the way south for our second visit
to Prime Hook Beach we picked up a Cackling Goose along Cods Road, and a 2 American Coots along Prime Hook
Road. At Prime Hook Beach we picked up an adult Iceland Gull (gull
species number 6 for the day). (Note:
This bird has been present at Fowler Beach since early December.)
When I got Bruce on this bird he noted that it was just behind our Glaucous Gull that we had seen
earlier at Slaughter Beach and Fowler
Beach. We had both white-winged gulls
in a single view,
Having seen some Wild Turkeys along Deep Branch Road last Saturday we headed there next, and were rewarded with
2 flocks of Turkeys and some
Ring-necked Ducks in flight.
Hoping to find some Greater Yellowlegs,
we then headed to Broadkill Beach where we struck out. We also struck out finding any new birds on the bay, but did find a second
Lesser Black-backed Gull. So back to the Headquarters area to look for
the Blue-winged Teal that has been
present along the Boardwalk Trail for the
past couple of weeks.
we struck out there as well. On the
way back to our cars we lucked out and found a Rusty Blackbird behind the Headquarters building.
We had thought this was
bird number 99 for the day, but when
Bruce went to add the entry to the checklist we found that we had forgot to checkoff the Brown-headed
Cowbirds that we had spotted at the
Headquarters area earlier in the day.
So at 4:30pm, 12 hours after we
started, we hit 100 species for the day on the 'extended' refuge.
With Greater Yellowlegs and Short-eared Owl still missing on our list we headed back to Fowler Beach. Along the way we had a Pileated Woodpecker fly across Rt. 1. At Fowler Beach, with the winds
howling, we found 3 Greater Yellowlegs,
and very little on the bay. With
the winds howling we decided to skip
looking for the owls and end the day at 102
species. Unfortunately, Bruce
was not finished yet, as he picked up a
Sharp-shinned Hawk on the way south along Rt. 1.
After 13 hours of
birding, we ended the day at 5:30pm with 103 species. With 112 species on our January 'Hundred on the Hook' day we are well on our way
to finding 100+ species of birds on the
refuge for all 12 months.