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.

#DErare – Crested Caracara

A Crested Caracara, which will be a first state record for Delaware pending acceptance by the Delaware Records Committee, was found this morning in Millville, Delaware by Sharon Lynn. The bird was first spotted along White Necks Rd. next to the Bay Forest community.

Crested Caracara in Millville, Delaware on 8 March 2013. Photo by Sharon Lynn.

At least a few birders have seen this bird since it was first reported around 09:30 this morning. It seems that if you find a carcass in the general vicinity of the Bay Forest community and White Necks Rd. (another map here) you have a good shot of seeing the bird. The bird was also seen on Old Mill Rd. and Irons Lane in Millville, Delaware.

Crested Caracara in Millville, Delaware on 8 March 2013. Photo by Sharon Lynn.

There have been numerous sightings of Crested Caracara(s) throughout southern New Jersey since last fall and continued through February of this year. The most recent sighting was on 25 February 2013 in Salem County. Although this could potentially be the same bird, a local that lives near the Delaware sighting said the bird has been there since before hunting season, which would make it a completely different bird than the New Jersey individual.

Here are the eBird records from February and March of Crested Caracaras in New Jersey and Delaware, with the most recent being in southern Delaware. The Egg Harbor sightings are from around 10 February 2013.

Crested Caracaras breed in Florida, south Texas, and south-central Arizona. I would think (don’t hold me to this), that these vagrants are either from Florida or Texas.

Palmyra Cove – Rufous Hummingbird

About a month ago I conducted a rarity loop throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania picking up the MEGA Northern Lapwings and Sandhill Cranes in New Egypt. While the Sandhill Cranes were less of a MEGA than the lapwings, they were still a nice addition to my New Jersey life list. I also haven’t seen Sandhill Cranes since the week I spent in Nebraska during peak crane migration in 2011. It was definitely a nice bonus on top of the lapwings.

From New Egypt I carried on toward an Ash-throated Flycatcher spot that was already occupied by hunters holding a Youth Day. Sadly, I just skipped out on searching for the flycatcher and drove towards the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border to stake out the continuing Rufous Hummingbird at Palmyra Cove Nature Center. It wasn’t long before I was watching the Rufous Hummingbird at the feeder next to the entrance from a few feet away. The hummingbird was another addition to my New Jersey life list and was definitely a nice treat to see in the middle of winter.

Rufous Hummingbird - Burlington County, New Jersey

Rufous Hummingbird at Palmyra Cove Nature Center in Burlington County, New Jersey on 19 January 2013. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.

Palmyra Cove Nature Park, Burlington, US-NJ
Jan 19, 2013 10:10 AM – 10:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
0.01 mile(s)
Comments: Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.5.2
13 species

Ring-billed Gull  26
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Rock Pigeon  2
Rufous Hummingbird  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
American Crow  2
Carolina Chickadee  2
Carolina Wren  1
American Robin  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Northern Cardinal  1
American Goldfinch  1
House Sparrow  12

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

In addition to this individual, I’ve seen another Rufous Hummingbird in Chester County, PA, an Allen’s Hummingbird in Bucks County, PA, and an Anna’s Hummingbird in New Castle County, DE this year. Click the links to read all about them!

The Anna’s Hummingbird continues in Newark.

The first record of Anna’s Hummingbird is still visiting a feeder at 257 Delaplane Ave in Newark, Delaware. The bird was banded in November as a hatch year female and has been consistently visiting the feeder at the residence ever since. I’ve been there several times and finally obtained a couple of worthy photographs. This fall and winter have been great for western hummingbirds in the northeast and I have seen numerous myself!

Anna's Hummingbird - Delaware

Anna's Hummingbird - Delaware

The video and photos were taken with a Samsung Stratosphere on a Vortex Skyline 80 Spotting Scope using the Phone Skope Universal Adapter set up.

Phone Skope makes custom adapters for any smartphone and spotting scope combination. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Video: Scott Weidensaul banding PA’s fourth record of Allen’s Hummingbird

July: It’s hot for vagrant shorebirds.

I’ve been seeing reports over the past several weeks of vagrant shorebirds on eBird and the ABA Blog. Earlier today, eBird put up an interesting post showing the reports of Ruffs from the last 30 days. Check it out here. In the mean time, I’m going to check Lake Isabella for shorebirds. Who knows, maybe a stint or Ruff will show.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Rotary Park–5/20/2012

Around 10:00 this morning, I got a text message from Lauren Harter saying that there was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Rotary Park. The bird was first reported this morning by Chris McCreedy. I immediately grabbed my bins and camera and headed to Rotary Park, but made one quick stop to pick up Emily Sinnott on the way. Once we arrived at the park, I began scanning all of the light posts on the golf course and quickly found the bird perched on a large stone in the middle of the course. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are rare migrants in the Lower Colorado River Valley. Here are my two best photos:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Rotary Park on 5-20-2012

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Rotary Park on 5-20-2012

Reference: Rosenberg, K.V., R. D. Ohmart, W. C. Hunter, and B. W. Anderson. 1991. Birds of the Lower Colorado River Valley. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.