Bruce Peterjohn and I started our Hundred
on the Hook day for November at 4:15 am this morning with a full moon, hardly a
breeze, and not a mosquitoe to be seen or heard (as the temperature was 30
degrees). We started our night birding
at Petersfield Ditch on Broadkill Road, with the first bird being a Rock
Pigeon. Yes a Rock Pigeon, sitting on
the side of the road on the bridge.
Calling Snow Geese came in second, while a King Rail topped off the
first three spots. With Winter birds
arriving every day we decided to try for a Northern Saw-whet Owl, and were
rewarded with a response to Bruce's tooting (along with a Great-horned Owl as
well). Moving up to the entrance area
we picked up a pair of Eastern Screech Owls, followed very quickly (as in
seconds) by a Barred Owl. We then
returned to Broadkill Road to watch the sun come up near Petersfield Ditch and
picked up Tundra Swan, American Bittern, Virginia Rail, American Woodcock,
Marsh Wren, American Wigeon, and most of the other expected puddle ducks.
With the sun starting to rise we headed into the Headquarter's Area. Along the entrance road we picked up our
first Eastern Phoebe for the day.
Highlights along the Boardwalk Trail included Wood Duck, Osprey,
American Coot, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren (at the beginning of the new Blue
Goose Trail), both Kinglets, Hermit Thrush, and 7 species of Sparrows,
including Chipping, Field, and White-crowned Sparrow. We then made a brief visit to the Pine Grove Trail area where we
found several Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers on Fleetwood Pond. As we were leaving the Headquarter's Area,
and turning onto Route 16, we did a quick check of the Snow Geese in the field
and found 2 Ross' Geese. Knowing that
shorebirds were going to be difficult, we decided to make a quick run down
Broadkill Road (at high tide) to look for shorebirds. With hopes fading, Bruce spotted a Great Egret and two Greater
Yellowlegs along the road just as we came up to the Cedars. A review of the bay at Broadkill Beach
yielded Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, both
Loons, and several Northern Gannets.
On our way to the State Wildlife Area we picked up a Merlin along Deep Branch
Road and a Pileated Woodpecker along Prime Hook Road. The State Area was for the most part quite, but we did pick up
Red-shouldered Hawk, and a very late Gray-checked Thrush and a Common
The marsh area of Prime Hook Road was next and as we
entered the marsh we had an young Bald Eagle in a large kettle of Turkey
Vultures. A search through the Canada
Geese failed to yield anything special.
Prime Hook Beach itself yielded a single Canvasback in a flock of
Green-winged Teals, a single White-winged Scoter, several Horned Grebes, a
Great Cormorant, and several Black-bellied Plovers. We then headed north to Slaughter Beach where we added
Black-crowned Night-Heron, Dunlin, Long-billed Dowitcher, Bonaparte's Gull, and
Forster's Tern. With the time past
noon, we decided to head off to the Milton for lunch with a lunch-time total of
After picking up lunch we headed to Broadkill Road to enjoy our lunch while
looking over several thousand Snow Geese in the south impoundment. Just as lunch was over we picked up a single
Cackling Goose in the flock. We then
began to look hard for shorebirds, and with the help of a Northern Harrier we
were able to find Lesser Yellowlegs, Western , Least, and Pectoral Sandpiper. After some hard looking, the salt marsh then
yielded Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, and
Seaside Sparrow. We then moved up to
Fowler Beach for a bay watch, and we were not disappointed. Along Fowler Beach Road we found good
numbers of American Pipits in the fields, and in the marsh area to the north of
the road we found a single Wilson's Snipe.
The bay watch began with an
adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, followed by Black Scoter, Ring-necked Duck,
Long-tailed Duck, Snow Bunting, an amazing flock of 13 Redheads, plus 3 others
in flight (only second time I have seen them on the refuge), an even more
amazing Gull-billed Tern, and a single female Common Goldeneye.
With daylight beginning to fade we then headed south to Oyster Rocks. Once there, we had several Clapper Rails
calling and were able to spot two of them along the banks of the Broadkill
River. With the sun just about set,
Bruce spotted some Boat-tailed Grackles.
We finished the day at 5:30 pm with a flyover Short-eared Owl for a
total of 129 species (3rd highest behind May (151), and June & August
(130)). Biggest misses were Greater
Scaup and Horned Lark.
This outing brought our cumulative 'Hundred on the Hook Day' total for the
year to 246 species. We added 5 new
species to our list today (Redhead, White-winged Scoter, Gull-billed Tern,
Short-eared Owl, and Gray-check Thrush).
For the second month we held steady on the 'All Trip' list at 40