Starting off with mixed weather, fog and clouds, we had no trouble making our way down to the southern end of the island and Sandy Point State Reservation Beach. We only had a few fishermen to contend with opposed to the hoards of beach goers expected this time of year. (This is one of the reasons I start the trip so early. Otherwise, we often will get boxed out.)
We made our way out to the beach, passing the roped nesting areas for Piping Plovers. We scanned these areas, but none were found. At this point, I think nesting has been completed, so young and old alike were out roaming the open beach.
One, then two, then four then six Piping Plovers were found all within one or two scope fields apart. Later on we found a flock of five, apparently different birds, then a handful of others, totaling fourteen birds.
As we were on the beach during a rising tide, a lot of the shorebirds had departed for their loafing areas. However, there were still Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers and Sandpipers and two Ruddy Turnstones to be found. It is not surprising, but still remarkable how the beach changes year over year. What was once a long and wide expanse of mudflats was now an abrupt cut off sand shelf.
We got information that there were lots of birds at Bill Forward Pool so we headed in that direction, only briefly stopping at the nearly barren Stage Island Pool.
Upon arrival at the blind at Bill Forward Pool, we found what would be spot of the day. Several thousand birds of all shape and sizes we actively feeding, resting and a little of both. A parade of Snowy Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants and Greater Yellowlegs followed one another chasing and feeding on trapped prey.
The majority of the birds were Semi Semis (Plovers and Sandpipers), but we also found single Hudsonian Godwit, Long-billed Dowitcher (there might have been a second), Dunlin and Western Sandpiper.
While we traveled on the island, there were the flocks on Tree Swallows and European Starlings, just starting to amass into pre-migration flocks. A stop at Parking lot 1 to pick up cars and look out at the ocean, found forty or so Northern Gannets all heading south. Little else was seen.
The plan was to head over to the other side of the river and visit Nelson Island to wrap up the trip. However, as we starting off the island, a weather front opened up on us. Not knowing the duration, I cut the trip short.
Below is a list of what I recorded for birds.
Canada Goose 15 Gadwall 1 Mallard 9 Wild Turkey 1 Northern Gannet 40 Double-crested Cormorant 15 Great Blue Heron 2 Snowy Egret 15 Turkey Vulture 2 Osprey 4 Black-bellied Plover 50 Semipalmated Plover 1187 Piping Plover 14 Killdeer 1 Hudsonian Godwit 1 Ruddy Turnstone 2 Sanderling 100 Dunlin 1 Least Sandpiper 5 White-rumped Sandpiper 4 Semipalmated Sandpiper 840 Western Sandpiper 1 Short-billed Dowitcher 62 Long-billed Dowitcher 1 Greater Yellowlegs 10 Willet 2 Lesser Yellowlegs 15 Parasitic Jaeger 1 Bonaparte's Gull 3 Ring-billed Gull 27 Herring Gull 1 Great Black-backed Gull 5 Least Tern 10 Common Tern 30 Eastern Kingbird 20 American Crow 1 Purple Martin 18 Tree Swallow 3000 Bank Swallow 2 Barn Swallow 2 Marsh Wren 4 American Robin 30 Gray Catbird 5 Brown Thrasher 1 Northern Mockingbird 2 European Starling 1000 Cedar Waxwing 10 Common Yellowthroat 2 Yellow Warbler 1 Saltmarsh Sparrow 1 Field Sparrow 1 Savannah Sparrow 1 Song Sparrow 1 Eastern Towhee 5 Northern Cardinal 3 Red-winged Blackbird 5 Common Grackle 2 Baltimore Oriole 1 American Goldfinch 2