Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22 - Inwood Hill Park - Pectoral Sandpiper and Bald Eagles

On Saturday afternoon when word reached me that there was a Pectoral Sandpiper in the Muscota Marsh area, Ann and I were on the road down to Cape May, NJ to try for the Whiskered Tern. We had stopped in Brooklyn at Calvert Vaux Park to see the Western Kingbird found there in the morning before heading over the Verrazano Bridge for the run south. We were successful with the kingbird, but alas missed the tern in Cape May by ten minutes. Back in 1993 Ann and I missed North America's first Whiskered Tern in Delaware by about 10 seconds, hearing a birder say, "There it goes!" as we arrived. I did get to see this one last Monday when I went down with Sean Sime, but Ann couldn't go then because of a doctor's appointment. She has at least seen the species some years back when we were in Bulgaria. We got back home too late on Sunday night to look for the Pectoral Sandpiper so I went out this morning, hoping it might still be around. On my check of the rocks at Muscota Marsh, I found about 15 Semipalmated Sandpipers, but no Pectoral. I did a quick walk up on to the ridge to see if the northerly winds had brought anything in. The woods were fairly quiet, but I did spot three immature Bald Eagles going over headed south. On the way out of the park, I decided to make one more check of the rocks by the Boathouse and was rewarded with nice views of the Pectoral.

Pectoral Sandpiper                                                                                         © Joseph DiCostanzo      

After work, Dale Dancis came up in the late afternoon and around sunset I joined her for another look. At first we couldn't even find any Semipalmated Sandpipers, but then spotted a few clustered close to the shore as the in-coming tide reduced the available mudflats. We only saw about eight individuals when suddenly a much larger group took over from some hidden spot along the edge of the rocks. I spotted the Pectoral in among them, but unfortunately in the failing light Dale didn't get on it before the birds disappeared around the bend to the east. Perhaps it will still be around tomorrow.

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