Two field trips this fall, both in fine weather, took us first to Brigantine, on September 23rd, a day when it rained, but not on us, and to Mercer County Park on October 21st, a day of fine weather. Lou Beck was the leader each time.
Brigantine, as usual, held an exceptional sight. Just inside the end of the dikes, where they turn and turn again for the trip back, there was a phenomenal feeding frenzy: hundreds of waders and shorebirds, more Snowy and Great Egrets, Greater Yellowlegs, and Laughing Gulls than one might see in ten years of trips to Brigantine, all milling about, feeding, flying back and forth, and just sitting still, sleeping or digesting.
Other birds noticed at Brigantine included Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Green-Winged Teal, Pied-Billed Grebe, Harrier, immature Little Blue Herons, Semi-Palmated Sandpiper, Common Yellowthroat, Black-Bellied Plover, Common Loon, Peregrine Falcon, Dunlin, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Palm Warbler, Pintail, Snow Geese, Gull-Billed Tern, Cooper's Hawk, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Chickadee (sp.), Wilson's Warbler, Yellow-Rumped Warbler and Royal Tern.
The following month, Mercer County Park also featured an unusual sight -- four brant, a species hardly ever seen on inland waters, spent the day there at the park near the boathouse. The four stayed together, somewhat apart from the crowds of Canada Geese, eating grass near the wedding tent and swimming nearby in the lake. Three showed immature plumage, with no white at all on the neck. The fourth had a small amount of white; it might have been an adult, or perhaps an older immature.
Also notable at the park that day were Kingfisher, Fish Crow, Pied-Billed Grebe, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Great Blue Heron, Song Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow, Cardinal, Catbird, Junco, Flicker, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, and Red-Winged Blackbird.