Sunday, October 14, 2012

Big Sit at Morgan Mudflats

This is the annual Big Sit weekend, and yesterday I participated in the Big Sit at Morgan Mudflats in South Amboy, led by Rick Wright and sponsored by the Montclair Bird Club. Unlike big days, which can cover as large an area as a birder chooses, a big sit is a stationary count. Only species seen or heard from within a 17-foot circle may be counted towards the big sit total. Site selection and circle placement are the keys to a successful big sit; good sites should have a mix of habitat types visible from the count circle. At Morgan Mudflats, the habitats include bay, beach, saltmarsh, deciduous forest, and successional areas. Not all of these are easily visible from a count circle on the beach, but at the very least, they provide an opportunity for fly-by sightings.

Rick's count ran from 8 am to 3 pm. I was there along with Patrick and Anthony, my Middlesex Merlins teammates, for the morning portion of the count. Brant were back at the mudflats, and they were joined by several flocks of Green-winged Teal. Other waterfowl included seven Wood Ducks and a Black Scoter, the latter a new county bird for me. The raptor flight was highlighted by Bald Eagles — two while I was there and eight overall. Yellow-rumped Warblers and House Finches were constantly passing through the brush behind us. Occasionally they were joined by other species like Eastern Phoebe, American Pipits (which ran in and out of the Seaside Goldenrod), Savannah Sparrow, and Pine Siskins (which perched on the Phragmites heads to eat the seeds).

See Rick's full report at the Big Sit homepage.