Sunday, May 13, 2012

Long day of Shorebird Mist-netting

By Luke Musher
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Heislerville Shorebird Impoundment, Cumberland county, NJ

Yesterday we set up mist nets at the Heislerville shorebird impoundments, one of our usual banding locales.  On the bright side, there were thousands of birds, and many more thousands than we've been having at this spot.  The only problem was that they weren't flying into our nets!  We caught 17 birds during our 11 hours (!!!) in the field - 15 Least Sandpipers, and 3 Semipalmated Sandpipers.  Needless to say, we were very bored most of the day.  The highlights were watching World Series of Birding teams rushing by, sorting through the hoards of shorebirds, and taking tons of photos.  

A young South African birder came by and told us about a male Wilson's Phalarope he found. Unfortunately I couldn't leave my post and the bird was in with thousands of shorebirds that were completely backlit for me.  I radioed Tom Magarian, who was at the mist nets across the impoundment, and so in better light.  He was able to locate the bird.  I thought I had the phalarope silhouette for a few seconds, but then lost it after adjusting my scope - rookie mistake.  Shorebirds I did see throughout the day included Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, Least, Semipalmated, and White-rumped Sandpipers, and three flyover American Oystercatcher.  A Merlin kept the flock moving around for a little while in the middle of the day.  Tom and the rest of the crew on the other side of the impoundment watched it catch and fly off with a peep.
Our nets...without birds in them.
Oh look a flock of 17 Least Sandpiper right by our nets.  None of them got caught.
Fish or American Crow?  A good photo quiz, perhaps. Comment on this post with thoughts. (Hint: look at wing shape)
Least Sandpiper, Heislerville Shorebird Impoundment, Cumberland county, NJ
Black Skimmer, Heislerville Shorebird Impoundment, Cumberland county, NJ
Clapper Rail, Heislerville Shorebird Impoundment, Cumberland county, NJ
Pretty, pretty, pretty cute
So many shorebirds present. Here, mostly Semipalmated Sandpiers and Short-billed Dowitchers with a couple Dunlin and Semipalmated Plovers
Short-billed Dowitcher, Heislerville Shorebird Impoundment, Cumberland county, NJ


  1. Hey Luke, check out the difference between "hoard" and "horde." I think that you'll see that you wanted the latter rather than the former. Nice pix!

    Tony Leukering

    1. Ah yes. How silly of me. Spelling is not my strength. Thanks!