Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Indian River Inlet, March 4

I did not arrive at dawn.  Early in the morning, I would have been looking into the sun in the east, so arriving later was better for viewing the inlet and ocean.  I stopped at the north entrance to the inlet to look for the Eared Grebe.  The light was good with back-lighting, the sun to the east.  However, the wind from the west was still strong, and the long distance viewing required through a telescope was difficult.  It was difficult to keep the scope steady.  I heard the call note of a Savannah Sparrow nearby and a little later saw one at the parking area along the north side of the inlet west of the new bridge.   WOW!  That's a cool bridge in comparison to the old one that I remember from the past.  I spent the rest of the morning doing an ocean and inlet watch for Razorbill that has been reported here within the past week.  The Long-tailed Ducks (I estimated a total of 50.) were fun to watch and listen to their call/song.  In addition to four Black Scoters (3 female/immature plus on drake), there was a Surf Scoter, a nice drake in breeding plumage, of which  I managed only a very distant photo.

The Great Cormorants put on a great show.  (Pun intended!)  There were at least six, five on the tower on the south jetty and one sitting on the jetty.  Later in the day, I found one sitting in the inlet at close range and got a photo of the Great Cormorant taking flight, and showing at close range all of the field marks and the blue or turquoise eye color!  At noon, a Northern Gannet circled over the inlet and then disappeared back out to sea.  It was not an adult bird, because the upper surface of the wings were all dark.  After the gannet left, I left the inlet and drove to Ocean City, Maryland, to try the inlet there.  There were fewer birds at Ocean City Inlet than at Indian River Inlet, which probably explains why there have been few reports from Ocean City Inlet recently.  Because the tide was going out, I drove
a short distance west on Route 50 to check out the flats for oystercatchers, which can sometimes be seen in the winter at this spot.  However, there were only Herring and Ring-billed Gulls and a few Sanderlings.  I headed back north to Indian River Inlet to extend my ocean watch.   Here are the pictures of the Great Cormorants.

I could not find a Razorbill.  I left Indian River Inlet at about 3:30 pm and headed north toward Prime Hook Road to look for Ross's Goose in the flocks of Snow Geese.  Also, Eurasian Wigeon had been reported there, but not within the past week.  There were large flocks of Snow Geese in fields along Prime Hook Road before reaching the water on both sides.  However, I could not find a Ross's Goose.   When I first reached the water on both sides of the road, I found three American Avocets, a new bird for the year.  See photo below.  I scanned the waterfowl, and found American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler,  Black Duck and Mallard.  With the drakes in breeding plumage, the views were gorgeous.  I drove to the end of the road to Prime Hook Beach at the bay and turned around to scan for Ross's Goose again.  At a turn-out with a sign for Prime Hook Refuge, I scanned the Snow Geese.  The scattered flocks had

joined together near the road.  I found a Ross's Goose, by looking for smaller birds in the tight flock of geese as they fed.  The Ross's Goose had all the classic field marks, more rounded head with eye more centrally located on the face, short stubby triangular bill with a straight posterior interface of bill with the face and with a grayish color at the base.  It was too dark to get a photo, and it was hard to find the Ross's Goose in my camera. 
Savannah Sparrow, Surf Scoter, Northern Gannet, American Avocet and Ross's Goose makes the total 156.  (Note:  I updated the total after yesterday by one.)    

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