Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Getting Up at 3 a.m. is Always Worth It

Hit the hay around 7:30 pm Sunday night with the alarm set to go off at 3 am. Out the door by 4 am. Arrived promptly in Lot 1 for dawn at 5:08 am. I was greeted by the Purple Martins and Tree Swallows as they darted around the nest boxes. A short stroll down the boardwalk brought me to the beach where a fisherman stood at the shoreline managing the three poles he had set-up. The clouds stayed close to the horizon, perhaps somewhat diminishing the beauty of sunrise over the Atlantic, but only ever so slightly.

I love waking up when it's still dark out to go birding, timing things so I'll arrive just at dawn, then racing the sun to my destination.

It was a great day of birding. I checked the listings of recent bird sightings at Plum Island before heading out, so I knew what to keep an eye out for. A Virginia Rail was apparently hanging around near the Hellcat Marsh Loop. When I talked to another birder I met up with, he told me it was most likely nesting near there, and that it was being quite boisterous and even walking around in plain sight in an effort to distract "predators" (birders, in this case) from the nesting site. When I walked the Hellcat Marsh Loop, that's exactly what I found. I took a couple brief videos with my camera and have posted them on YouTube. I was also delighted to come across a Marsh Wren building its nest, and have posted an additional video of this on YouTube. Unfortunately, all of the videos from yesterday are somewhat shaky, and for that I apologize.


Here are the totals for the species I counted yesterday:
13 adult Canada Geese and 17 fledglings
14 Mute Swans
12 Mallard drakes and 1 female
21 Double-crested Cormorants
6 Snowy Egrets
5 Great Egrets
(4 unidentified Egrets)
3 Turkey Vultures
2 Piping Plovers
8 Killdeer
12 Mourning Doves
18 Eastern Kingbirds
1 Blue Jay
6 American Crows
3 Black-capped Chickadees
8 Robins
29 Gray Catbirds
5 Northern Mockingbirds
14 Brown Thrashers
16 Cedar Waxwings
12 Yellow Warblers
2 Common Yellowthroats
3 male and 1 female Eastern Towhee
16 Song Sparrows
1 male Cardinal
12 male Bobolinks
21 male and 6 female Red-winged Blackbirds
3 male and 1 female Brown-Headed Cowbird
3 male American Goldfinches

Please note that this list only reflects the particular species that I made an effort to count. I'll be honest and say that I made no effort to count the gulls, terns, sandpipers, martins, swallows, House Sparrows, or grackles.

Lifers for yesterday include:
  • Virginia Rail
  • Least Tern
There are more to add to the lifer list for yesterday, I just need some ID help. I'll post an update when I know, maybe even be wild and do it via cell phone.

I've again decided to post my pictures on my shutterfly site instead of uploading them here:


.....is it just me, or do I sound very stuffy lately? I seem like such a stick-in-the-mud dope when I reread this stuff. I swear my usual antics are exceedingly entertaining.

Take nothing but pictures (and maybe the trash of jerks who came before you), leave nothing but footprints.


  1. Have just looked thro' your pics & you definitely had a good day at Plum Is. The sunrise was worth getting up early. Some very nice shots of Egret & Waders. Well done Amanada. Cheers Frank.

  2. It was so nice to meet you yesterday! You are a true delight and I have no doubt you will be a great birder!
    Nice pics and photos of the Rail...I also enjoyed the video of the marsh wren making its nest.
    Did you not see the least bittern with us???I thought it was before you left..but I know the whole group was not there.

    I have added you to my blogroll and will watch your birding adventures...

  3. So glad you were able to join us on Saturday. Send me an e-mail at Picusblog(at)comcast(dot)net and I'll forward you a pic and everybody's blog/twitter info!

  4. It was fun birding with you Saturday.