I haven't been out birding for a couple of weeks since last weekend we were preparing for Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully we had very little damage here, lost power for a couple of days nothing we weren't prepared for. So I was anxious to get out and do some birding, Chris & I headed to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (Plum Island) to see what we could find. The island was evacuated during the storm and had been closed to visitors but was open this weekend.
The weather wasn't the best, cloudy, cool and windy, but hey it's November in New England. I had heard rumors that the storm had blown in birds from far away, so we stopped at the Audubon center before entering the refuge to see what had been sighted. They had a printed list with some pretty interesting sightings, I was excited to get out there and see what I could find. The Audubon volunteer told us she had heard that there were some White Pelicans on the island. What?!? White Pelicans belong in Florida, not New England!
As we stopped along the trails in search of birds I would ask fellow birders if they had seen any good sightings. I asked one women if she had seen the Short-eared Owl listed as a sighting on the list I had. She told me she had heard rumors that some one saw one but that she hadn't. At another stop I, asked a man & women with fancy camera gear if they had seen any Snow Buntings, that I had heard there were some on the island. They said they had also heard that rumor but so far they had not seen any.
When we came upon the parking area for the dunes trail that leads out to the ocean viewing platform we were excited to see about 8 cars there. I knew that had to mean there was something good sighted out there to draw so many fellow birders. As Chris & I walked along the boardwalk across the sand dunes we decided to see if Chris had the good luck touch that Beth had for bird sightings. Each time I mentioned a particular bird to Beth that I was hoping to see wouldn't you know it would be the very next bird we would see. So I told Chris I was hoping to see a Razorbill that was listed on the bird sightings list and Chris said she was hoping to see a dolphin.
When we got up to the viewing platform there were about a dozen people there many set up with spotting scopes others with binoculars. People were calling out sightings... “I got a Horned Grebe in the swells off the rocks”.. and everyone would turn and focus their equipment in that direction. Someone else calls out...”Red-throated Loon off to the far right” again the group would turn in unison. They were happy to share their scopes so we could get an up close look. But these were all birds I've already seen, nothing new. I asked one woman if she had seen any Razorbills, she said she had heard a rumor there were some on the island but she hadn't seen any. I was disappointed.
This was the first time I had been birding on the island when I didn't see any new birds. Don't get me wrong we had a nice day, we saw flocks of 100 or so of Northern Pintails and flocks of American Wigeons. Chris enjoyed watching the wild Swans and we watched a Red Tailed Hawk sitting in a low branch with in arms reach. Chris didn't get to see any dolphins but she did get to see a seal bobbing in the surf. Not a dolphin but close, does that count? So I had spent the day chasing rumors of rare sightings on the island. Oh well. Better luck next time.
The only new bird I have seen in a couple of weeks was a Carolina Wren blown in by Hurricane Sandy. Literally, it was blown in by the storm. I was sitting by the window watching the storm when a strong gust blew the small wren right into the side of the bird feeder..Whack! I feared it was dead, but it held on with it's tiny claws as the wind blew it side ways ruffling it's feathers backwards. When the gust let up the bird quickly took a couple of bites of suet then the next gust blew it off the feeder and it was gone. I haven't seen it since. I sure hope it made it through the storm safely.
Current Big year Total.........230
Happy Birding, Jane