Monday, July 28, 2014

Birding Plum Island

hundreds of shorebirds on the mudflats
We recently birded Plum Island, aka Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, just south of Newburyport, Massachusetts. There's 4700 acres of diverse habitats, including 3000+ acres of salt marsh. Here's the link to read more about it. 

lesser yellowlegs
There was a phenomenal number of shorebirds on the mudflats. Semipalmated plovers and sandpipers, lesser and greater yellowlegs, short-billed dowitchers, black-bellied plovers and others, along with Hudsonian godwits and 2 American Avocets!!

American avocet

American avocets

When we first arrived at the Bill Forward Pool mudflats, the avocets were way off in the distance, but they came closer and closer and finally took off. Gerry got some great shots. These elegant, long-legged shorebirds are seen mostly out west but they are rare-but-regular visitors to the Atlantic coast, although mostly in the fall.

least tern

Least terns were also quite abundant and we had great views of their flying and diving abilities.

least tern in a dive for dinner

piping plover
  Most of the refuge's ocean beaches are closed to protect nesting piping plovers. We did find four of these baby-faced birds at Sandy Point beach.

great egret

great blue heron
purple martin houses with decoys
Except for the really nasty greenheads (a horsefly worse than the ones we encounter here in Vermont), we had a great time, saw lots of birds and met some really nice fellow birders!

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