Rounding out May at the Refuge, Part Four

A lot more photos in this part, leading to the half-way point of my summer at Brigantine. Bird highlights include an incredibly rare visitor to the Refuge as well as interesting breeding behavior in American Oystercatchers; people highlights include a visit from Anne’s family.

Semi-palms in the muck at Brig
Semi-palms (different type!) also in the muck at Brig
Group of Dunlin, still on the way north
Typical-looking Deer on the loop: mangy
CAGO family on the retreat as the sun set on the loop
This photo, shot with a 400mm lens, is of a very distant and awesome bird that looked a little clearer, at times, through a spotting scope...
Here is a crop of the previous image. If you can identify the bird from this shot, you must have been there. It is the rare-in-New-Jersey Bar-tailed Godwit! BTGO is a Eurasian species that occasionally stumbles into Alaska. You may have heard of this bird when, in recent years, tracking devices indicated that one individual made a phenomenal non-stop flight from Alaska to New Zealand of 11,680 kilometres (7,258 miles)! That is roughly the distance from NYC to LAX and back to NYC and back to LAX once more! Non-stop! Unfortunately, the bird was at such an enormous distance with heat-waves blurring the view that further travel to Alaska and New Zealand will be necessary for definitive photographs.
These are American Oystercatcher eggs, in a scrape under some phragmites on a small saltmarsh island in Little Egg. This six-egg clutch is virtually unheard of, and was a first for Tom in New Jersey. A quick check of Birds of North America reveals that they had a previous record of a six-egg clutch in a communal nest with three birds, and that is what appears to have happened with the nest in the photo. We had three individual birds that seemed to be cooperating in the area of this nest (there were also two other nests within twnety meters, each with a clear pair of adults). The eggs seemed to be doing well as they were well-hidden, and eventually the eggs started hatching. As is typical with AMOY, they only hatched three of the eggs and stopped incubating the rest. The three chicks were confirmed very near to the hatch date, but were never seen again and were likely depredated. In addition, two of the three adults were being seen together until the end of the season, but the third disappeared. A search of the immediate area led to the recovery of a dead adult that was presumed to be their former partner.
This is the scene from the AMOY nest - note the presence of tons of Gulls. No big surprise that the chicks didn't make it...
Back to Oyster Bay: Anne took me to see TR's house and this nice boardwalk out to the beach behind it.
Sunset over the Sound
Anne at Stehli Beach in Bayville
Harvey began bird-banding on a trial basis at the TR Audubon Sanctuary. Numbers were low in the spring (as was anticipated) but among the haul was this beautiful Veery - my first in hand!
Here's another view of the Veery - what can those feathers tell you about this bird?
Anne's folks visited in late May and we all went to TR's house together. Here, the Winter's clan debates whether or not to join the throng of tourists that actually get to see inside of the home.
TR's house
A monument in TR's yard with the names of his "Faithful Friends," his departed animals including horses, dogs, and cats.
Anne and her parents on TR's beach
The primary occupant of the TR Audubon Sanctuary pool!
Rainy day at our beach, looking toward Bayville Bridge
Looking the other way, up into Mill Neck Creek - very different than the creeks in Utah!

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