Wednesday, September 14, 2005

From the Field: Birding Northerly Island.

When I first arrived at N.I., very few birds were present except for large flocks of migrating cormorants. However, when I reached the far eastern edge of the Island, there were birds all over. I did not see a single thrush, but there were dozens and dozens of warblers.

The large majority of the warblers were Palm Warbler, with a few Yellow-rumps and American Redstarts thrown in. I also saw small numbers of Common Yellowthroat, Magnolia, Blackpoll, and Ovenbird.

Other interesting birds included one cuckoo sp., a handful of Wilson's Snipe, at least six rails (1 Virginia, 2 Sora, 1 additional probable Sora, 1 additional probable Virginia, and a "sixth rail", which was not seen well as it scurried underfoot but it appeared to be smaller than a Sora or Virginia and my undocumentable guess would be Yellow Rail), 3 Lincoln's Sparrows, and one Nelson's Sharp-Tailed Sparrow.

I think Steve Huggins had a Yellow Rail at NI a while back so this may be a bit of a spot for them.

The first bird I actually saw was a Virginia Rail huddled against the terminal building. No one was available to try to check out the bird so, as instructed, I gently tried to nudge it away from the corner. The bird had been walking around when I first saw it. It would not budge, however, not even as I approached within an inch or two. So I gently tapped it with my foot. Still nothing. Another very gentle tap, and it scooted (the wrong way) towards the parking lot. I outflanked it and got between it and the parking lot, trying to convince it to turn around and head back to the safety of the tall grass. It stopped, looked at me, then ran right between my legs into the parking lot. I tried to head it off again but somehow it finally got the right idea on its own, did a 360 and darted into the grass.

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