Bar-tailed Godwit at Chinc – Twice!

During the month of August, I made the hour and a half drive to Chincoteague NWR, twice. The reason for both trips was to see the MEGA – Bar-tailed Godwit. The first trip took place on August 5th, where I met up with studs like Alex Lamoreaux and Tom Johnson as well as a dude doing a Big Year (you’ve all seen the movie, right?) and several other folks I’ve never met before.

Before I started the drive, Alex texted me that the bird was not refound, yet. I decided to make the drive anyway, just to meet up and bird with friends I only get to see every couple of months. When I rolled into the parking area at the Tom’s Cove Visitor’s Center, I saw Alex and proceeded to shoot the you know what for about fifteen minutes. I then suggested we walk across the road to look in Swan Cove as I saw several large shorebirds in the pool when I drove in. We walked over and started scanning through the birds – “Willet. Dowitcher. Marbled Godwit. Hey, wait, what is that dowitcher-type bird with a bicolored bill? Oh man, that’s it!” We jumped for joy as we drooled at the sight of this European rarity. OK, so maybe we didn’t drool, but I know Alex was close. We watched the bird for over an hour and got exceptional scope looks.

Bar-tailed Godwit (ssp. lapponica) - Virginia

‘European’ Bar-tailed Godwit at Chincoteague NWR, Virginia on 5 August 2013. Digiscoped with an iPhone 4S + Celestron Regal M2 80ED & Phone Skope Adapter. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

The second round ensued on August 24th. After a morning of bird surveys, Ben Zyla and I made the trek down to Chinc. Ben was looking to add the bird to his growing ABA year list. Again, we rolled up to the Tom’s Cove Visitor’s Center and started scanning Swan Cove. A few other birders were there and had already spent several hours searching for the bird. Discouraged and having no luck with the MEGA, Ben did what any sensible birder would do – look through flocks other than the flock of Marbled Godwits we stared at for what seemed like hours. Boom. He found it. The Bar-tailed Godwit was mixed in with a nice, tidy flock of Willets.

‘European’ Bar-tailed Godwit at Chincoteague NWR, Virginia on 24 August 2013. Digiscoped with an iPhone 4S + Celestron Regal M2 80ED & Phone Skope Adapter. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Epic. Ben was stoked, as were the the rest of the bird nerds present. We watched the bird for an hour or so. It took flight several times and flew over to Tom’s Cove, then came right back. Eventually it decided to chill with it’s own kind – Marbled Godwits, and that’s when we hit the road back to Milton.

Bar-tailed Godwit (ssp. lapponica) - Virginia

‘European’ Bar-tailed Godwit and Willet at Chincoteague NWR, Virginia on 24 August 2013. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Two for two. I consider that a success. Until next time, bird hard my friends.

Migration – It’s Starting!

US Composite for 1 August 2013.

Migration is starting all over the country. Shorebirds have been on the move the past few weeks, but now songbirds are on the move as well! I was not aware that songbird migration started this early, but it was brought to my attention that migration happens at Higbees Dike year round. Sam Galick witnessed a decent morning flight of passerines on July 30th. He had a lone Louisiana Waterthrush, five Northern Waterthrushes, four American Redstarts, and an impressive count of 53 Yellow Warblers! Be sure to check out the eBird Checklist for his count.

Yellow Warblers

Yellow Warblers in morning flight at Higbees Dike, New Jersey, on 30 July 2013. Photo by Sam Galick.

Migrants should be trickling south through the northeast and upper midwest throughout the month of August and will begin to heat up near the end of August and into September. Here’s this week’s update from BirdCast:

“Scattered precipitation begets a slow start to many areas of the region this weekend, with light movements occurring where it is dry. However, portions of the western Great Lakes show signs of more movements to come, with favorable conditions that facilitate light to moderate movements there early in the weekend building South and East to begin the week. However, as high pressure moves off the Carolina coast, precipitation returns to shut down migrants in most places, again with the exception of portions of the western Great Lakes where light movements continue. This precipitation is tracking a low moving East across Canada, and as it departs more northerly flow builds over parts of the region. As this happen late in the week, more favorable conditions are in place for light to moderate movements to occur in areas free of precipitation. Birds on the move this week include Blue-winged Teal, early Ospreys, Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, Solitary, White-rumped, and Pectoral Sandpiper, Yellow Warbler, and American Redstart.”

American Redstart

American Redstart at Higbees Dike, New Jersey, on 30 July 2013. Photo by Sam Galick.

What have you been seeing? Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers have been increasing in numbers along the Delaware Bayshore. Pectoral, Solitary, and White-rumped Sandpipers have been around for a week or two now, but not in significant numbers.

For Fall Migration Updates, check out the following links:

Upper Midwest – by David La Puma
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula – The Northwoods BIRDAR by Max Henschell
New England – Tom Auer’s blog
Florida/SE – Badbirdz Reloaded by Angel and Mariel Abreu
PA/Ohio Valley – Nemesis Bird by Drew Weber
NW Ohio – Birding the Crane Creek by Kenn Kaufman
Pac NW – Birds Over Portland by Greg Haworth
Continental US – eBird BirdCast Forecast & Report by Team eBird

Lifer Red Knot, finally!

Finally, finally, finally. I finally saw my lifer Red Knot at Prime Hook NWR (eBird Checklist) two nights ago. Actually, I saw 68 of them, some in alternate plumage, but most in basic. Just seeing a handful (give or take) in alternate plumage makes me long for knot migration next spring. Anyway, the birds were distant, but I did take some Phone Skoped shots of the flock.

Red Knots at Prime Hook NWR on 8 July 2013. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Red Knots at Prime Hook NWR on 9 July 2013. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Red Knots at Prime Hook NWR on 9 July 2013. iPhone photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Shorebird migration is on. Get out and check those mudflats!

Red Phalarope in Williamsport!

On Saturday May 11, while I was running along the Lycoming Creek in Williamsport I noticed a small bird in the middle of the creek. Curious I ran closer and the bird took off, heading up the creek. I noticed that it looked very shorebird-like so I began to get very excited. Soon enough the bird floated back down the creek and the distinct foraging behavior gave it away, I was looking at a phalarope. However, I didn’t have binoculars or a camera so I began the fastest half mile I’ve ever ran back to my house to grab the gear.

Sure enough the bird was still present. I put the binoculars up to my eyes and realized I was looking at a Red Phalarope. This was only the second Red Phalarope I have ever seen so I took my time looking at the bird and then eventually got closer for some pictures. Unfortunately the pictures didn’t come out great and the low light didn’t help but here is the best one.

Red Phalarope along Lycoming Creek in Williamsport, PA on 11 May 2013. Photo by Nate Fronk.

RBA: Birdline Delaware, March 29th, 2013

Here is the weekly RBA compiled by Andy Ednie that includes photos of birds mentioned. Thanks for all of the photo contributions! Click on links throughout the post to see the original postings to DE BirdseBird Checklists, and other various links. If you would like to have your photos of birds mentioned below added, feel free to email them to timschreckengost AT gmail DOT com.

* Delaware
* Statewide
* March 29, 2013
* DEST1303.29

Hotline: Birdline Delaware
Date: March 29, 2013
Number: 302-658-2747
To Report: Andy Ednie 302-792-9591 (VOICE)
Compiler: Andy Ednie (
Coverage: Delaware, Delmarva Peninsula, nearby Delaware Valley, Southern
New Jersey, Maryland
Transcriber: Andy Ednie (

For Friday, March 29th, this is Birdline Delaware, home of the Fighting Blue Hens, from the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Greenville. The 2013 Delaware state annual list hit 195 species this week.

Northern Lapwing at Bombay Hook NWR on 29 March 2013. Photo by Dawn Miller.

A NORTHERN LAPWING was found today at Bear Swamp Pool in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge near Smyrna. The bird was found on mudflats in the impoundment just past the Bear Swamp sign along the straightaway on the east side of the pool. LAPWING has been anticipated in Delaware since the incursion that occurred after Hurricane Sandy. Several reports of multiple birds have been along the East Coast this year already, including birds in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, and Georgia. This is the fourth state record and also fourth for the refuge the first reported in 14 years.

Other birds seen in the area was a first of the year PECTORAL SANDPIPER and over 75 WILSON’S SNIPE. Other shorebirds seen included BLACK-NECKED STILT, AMERICAN AVOCET, and LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Raymond Pool, along with lots of DUNLIN and both species of YELLOWLEGS. Three AMERICAN BITTERNS were reported at Sheerness Pool, two were calling today. GLOSSY IBIS and GREAT EGRET also been reported. Waterfowl seen included MUTE and TUNDRA SWAN, 60 RING-NECKED DUCKS, PIED-BILLED GREBE, BUFFLEHEAD, RUDDY DUCK, and HOODED and COMMON MERGANSER. SHORT-EARED OWL and 4 AMERICAN KESTRELS were reported along the entrance road to the refuge. BARRED OWL was reported at Finis Pool. Three WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS continue to be seen at the feeders at the visitor center.

The previous reported CRESTED CARACARA that was found last week was last reported on Saturday along White Neck’s Road near Millville in Sussex County. This area is just west of Bethany Beach along Route 26, Atlantic Avenue, not far from Holts Landing State Park. There have been no more reports later in the week, if seen please notify the birdline. PILEATED WOODPECKER was seen at Holts Landing.

In northern Delaware, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were seen at the intersection of McDaniels and Orchard Road in Tallyville off Route 202, the Concord Pike. Those birds of been seen sporadically all week. Other winter finches reported included PINE SISKINS at Ashland Nature Center and in Cheswold. PURPLE FINCH was reported at a feeder in Lewes.

A VESPER SPARROW was seen at Brandywine Creek State Park, flushed from the field along the entrance road during the controlled meadow burn. Also seen during the fire were 3 AMERICAN KESTRELS hunting along the edge. SNOW GEESE and KILLDEER were seen at the park today, along with FOX SPARROW, EASTERN PHOEBE, and WINTER WREN. WOOD DUCK and COMMON MERGANSER were seen along the Creek, also OSPREY being pursued by a BALD EAGLE on Sunday.

The previous reported ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD coming to a feeder near Newark is now molting into male plumage. That hummingbird is at the home of Diane and Steve Freebery at 257 Delaplane Ave., in Middle Run Manor off Kirkwood Highway. Birders are welcome to come see this bird, walk down the driveway and sit on the back porch for the best viewing.

An amazing 5 ROSS’S GEESE were found in a flock of 1500 SNOW GEESE next to Dover Air Force Base on Sunday. A BLACK HEADED GULL was reported at the North Pond of the Logan Lane Tract at Ted Harvey Conservation Area near Kitts Hummock. 120 AMERICAN AVOCETS were found at the south impoundment, along with PEREGRINE FALCON. Also reported were SAVANNAH SPARROW, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, and BROWN THRASHER. Five BLUE-WINGED TEALS were seen at Little Creek Wildlife Management Area, in the ponds to the left of the central tower. Also reported at Little Creek were over 1000 AMERICAN COOT, 400 NORTHERN PINTAIL, 200 AMERICAN WIGEON, 22 RING-NECKED DUCK and LESSER SCAUP.

A EURASIAN WIGEON continues to hang out at Assawoman Wildlife Area near Fenwick Island. Also seen there were RING-NECKED DUCK, MUTE SWAN, and HOODED MERGANSER. PILEATED WOODPECKER was seen in the woods.

The previous seen EARED GREBE was last reported last Saturday at Bottom Hills Drain near the North Marina at Indian River Inlet. There were several HORNED GREBES molting into breeding plumage also seen, plus GREATER SCAUP and BRANT. A BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON was reported at the entrance to Burton’s Island Causeway. There still a raft of over 40 LONG-TAILED DUCKS along the jetty at Indian River Inlet, plus BLACK and SURF SCOTER and RED-BREASTED MERGANSER. PURPLE SANDPIPERS and RUDDY TURNSTONES were seen along the rocks. GREAT CORMORANT was seen on the jetty tower. NORTHERN GANNETS have been seen close to the shore from the South Inlet Bathhouse.

There are still over 100 CANVASBACKS at Silver Lake in Rehoboth Beach. BLUE-WINGED TEAL and RING-NECKED DUCK were also seen on the lake. There is also about 3 dozen RUDDY DUCKS. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER continues to be seen at Canal Pointe Condominiums north of Rehoboth Beach.

The first BARN SWALLOW of the year was reported at the Dupont Nature Center at the Mispillion Inlet today. Also seen were BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, DUNLIN, and 5 AMERICAN OYSTERCATCHERS. GREATER SCAUP, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and BLACK SCOTER were seen offshore, along with a single LONG-TAILED DUCK and BONAPARTE’S GULL.

ICELAND GULL was seen at Fowler’s Beach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge along with 2 CLAPPER RAILS. Eight SNOWY EGRETS and 2 LITTLE BLUE HERONS were seen with GREAT EGRETS along the Boardwalk Trail at the refuge headquarters. Also reported were WILD TURKEY, BROWN THRASHER, EASTERN PHOEBE, and WINTER WREN.

A CACKLING GOOSE was found at Hoope’s Reservoir near Greenville last weekend. Also seen on the reservoir were LESSER SCAUP, RUDDY DUCK, BUFFLEHEAD, and COMMON MERGANSER. A few PIED-BILLED GREBES were also been reported along with BALD EAGLES and TREE SWALLOW. Newark Reservoir has both COMMON LOON and HORNED GREBE molting into breeding plumage. COMMON MERGANSERS were also reported along the Red Clay Creek near Yorklyn. SNOW GEESE were reported flying over Pike Creek.

Cackling Goose

Cackling Goose at Hoope’s Reservoir on 23 March 2013. Photo by Taj Schottland.

PINE WARBLERS were reported at several locations this last week including Turkell Pond at Prime Hook, one was coming to a feeder in Lincoln, 2 were coming to a yard in Bear, and  a pair PINE WARBLERS were singing at the powerline cut along the Pickering Beach Road. RUSTY BLACKBIRD was reported at a feeder in Claymont.

BLUE-WINGED TEALS were reported at Lewes and Dragon Run. Also reported at Dragon Run were PIED-BILLED GREBE, RING-NECKED DUCK, WOOD DUCK, and AMERICAN WIGEON.

The monthly Heron Survey at Delaware City in Veterans Park had LITTLE BLUE HERON, SNOWY EGRET, GLOSSY IBIS, and the first CATTLE EGRETS of the season. While GLOSSY IBIS is expected at this time year, SNOWY EGRETS are increasing in regularity in the early spring, and CATTLE EGRETS were uncommonly early. LITTLE BLUE HERON was also reported at Grier’s Pond in Thousand Acre Marsh. Up to 9 BALD EAGLES were reported in the Port Penn area.

A few wintering gulls remained at Fox Point State Park last weekend. ICELAND and GLAUCOUS GULL were found along with 14 LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS and LAUGHING GULL. Six BRANT continue to be seen at battery Park in New Castle. There were 5 BONAPARTE’S GULLS seen over the river. A RED-THROATED LOON and GREATER SCAUP were seen at Gambacorta Marsh, along with PINTAIL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and LESSER YELLOWLEGS. An unusual bird marsh at Russell Peterson Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington was PILEATED WOODPECKER.

PEREGRINE FALCONS continue be reported at their nest box at the Brandywine Building in downtown Wilmington. The Cape Henlopen Spring Hawk Watch is starting to pick up with increasing falcon reports. Three MERLIN and 3 AMERICAN KESTREL were seen today. There is also been scattered MERLIN reports throughout the state, including Bay Vista Golf Park, Dragon Run, Delaware City, and both Bombay and Prime Hook.

Many thanks to those people that helped put together the Birdline this week including, Sharon Lynn, Diane Freebery, Nancy Goggin, Sue Gruver, Derek Stoner, Chuck Brandt, Chris Bennett, Joel Martin, Colin Campbell, Lisa Smith, Mike Smith, Lynn Smith, Bill Stewart, Kim Steininger, Mike Hudson, John Dunn, John Bradley, Alan Kneidel, Matt Haley, Ben Tebbens, Andrew Bogush, Christopher Rowe, Anthony Gonzon, Mason Sieges, Taj Schottland, and Joe Russell. Please call your reports to me at 302-792-9591 or email to Until next time, Go Lady Hens and good birding!!!

-end transcript

Video: Birding the Delaware Bayshore

Before this fall and winter, I have only birded the Delaware Bayshore one time. Since September, I have had the opportunity to explore places such as Bombay Hook NWR and Prime Hook NWR and have found an array of wildlife and beautiful scenery. I urge every naturalist to scope out the Delaware Bayshore in the future. Here is what DNREC has to say about the Delaware Bayshore:

Extending from Pea Patch Island in New Castle County to the City of Lewes in Sussex County, the Delaware Bay shoreline is widely recognized as an area of global ecological significance. Its expansive coastal marshes, shoreline, agricultural lands and forests provide diverse habitat to many species, including migratory shorebirds. Birders and biologists from around the world come to central Delaware to witness the annual spring spectacle of more than a half million shorebirds taking a rest stop to dine on eggs laid by spawning horseshoe crabs.”

DNREC is inviting current and potential recreational users of public lands along the Delaware Bayshore to participate in a survey. Survey responses will assist DNREC’s Delaware Bayshore Initiative Team with planning and implementing investments in the Bayshore region. Take the Bayshore Initiative Survey

All content used with permission from DNREC. 

Bombay Hook CBC Results

About two weeks ago, several birders from the University of Delaware, including yours truly, participated in the annual Bombay Hook NWR Christmas Bird Count. Our count area, which I described in this post, consisted of the Raymond Pool, Boardwalk Trail, the Visitor’s Center, and various other areas. We started at 3:45 in the morning and finished around 1:00 in the afternoon. We tallied 67 species in which most are listed below. In addition to the eBird checklist below, we had Barn and Eastern Screech-Owls early in the morning. Highlights in BOLD below.

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) at Bombay Hook NWR on 16 December 2012

Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus), Kent County, Delaware on 16 December 2012

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) at Bombay Hook NWR on 16 December 2012

Bombay Hook NWR, Kent, US-DE
Dec 16, 2012 6:50 AM – 12:55 PM
Protocol: Traveling
6.53 mile(s)
Comments:     Bombay Hook NWR CBC. Distance calculated using Running Map.
65 species (+5 other taxa)

Snow Goose  3500
Canada Goose  217
Tundra Swan  2
American Black Duck  3
Mallard  150
Blue-winged Teal  1
Northern Shoveler  76
Northern Pintail  14
Green-winged Teal  44
Bufflehead  5
Hooded Merganser  3
duck sp.  11
Great Blue Heron  6
Northern Harrier  8
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Accipiter sp.  1
Bald Eagle  2
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  7
Clapper Rail  3
Black-necked Stilt  1  
American Avocet  130  
Greater Yellowlegs  13
Marbled Godwit  3
Dunlin  50
Long-billed Dowitcher  7
Ring-billed Gull  11
Herring Gull  1
gull sp.  4
Mourning Dove  120
Great Horned Owl  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  7
Downy Woodpecker  5
Hairy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  7
American Kestrel  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
large falcon sp.  1
Blue Jay  45
American Crow  5
Horned Lark  4
Carolina Chickadee  7
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
Marsh Wren  2
Carolina Wren  10
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3
American Robin  1
Northern Mockingbird  4
European Starling  63
American Pipit  4
Cedar Waxwing  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
Eastern Towhee  1
Field Sparrow  5
Savannah Sparrow  6
Fox Sparrow  1
Fox Sparrow (Red)  5
Song Sparrow  40
Swamp Sparrow  22
White-throated Sparrow  120
White-crowned Sparrow  6
Dark-eyed Junco  2
Northern Cardinal  44
Red-winged Blackbird  786
Eastern Meadowlark  1
House Finch  4
American Goldfinch  19
House Sparrow  13

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (