Seawatch – 29 November 2014

"Howdy all, so sorry to be away for so long dear seawatch aficionados. I've been meaning to post an update for a while now, but my hands have become twisted claws from clutching tally clickers for hours on end in the cold. Still I have gotten it together to let you all know that not only does the count at Avalon continue, it is thriving in recent days. Thanksgiving was a fantastic day full of gannets and loons- a total of 28,000+ birds were seen that day with the pièce de résistance being an adult(ish?) Pomarine Jaeger going by that afternoon. While I feel we likely had one earlier in the season, this bird was the first one I felt sure of this fall and makes for only the second time in Seawatch history that the Jaeger sweep of all three birds has occurred. Truly delightful! 

As for today, it was a wonderful day at the watch with October-like numbers of scoters passing by (albeit often at a great distance). Over 12,000 scoters of all types, including 28 White-winged Scoters, were seen today. Also notable was the smaller pied cousin of the scoter, Long-tailed Duck with a healthy 97 counted. Rounding out the "cool sea ducks" portion of the count were 13 Common Eiders passing by, both by themselves and tucked into scoter flocks. Red-throated Loons continue to pass by in robust numbers with 8,530 tallied in today. And while we had more Gannets on Thanksgiving, today's total was important as it took the season total just under a hundred thousand gannets! Considering the seasonal average is 65,000, I'm pretty pleased, as well as curious to see if the Sulid Parade keeps on going. Herring Gulls have really got rolling finally with 807 recorded as migrants with many other hundreds passing by far off shore recorded as the tragically mundane "gull spuh".

Final honorable mention for bird of the day goes to the leucistic Great Blue Heron flying with two normal looking herons over Sea Isle. What made the bird particularly striking was that it still had the dark flight feathers on the wings with an off-white body, looking shockingly similar to a Wood Stork! Good times..."   –– S.H.

[These Long-tailed Ducks put on a wonderful show near the seawall today. 
Photo by Skye Haas.]

[Leucistic Great Blue Heron (at left). Photo by Skye Haas.]

Observation time:  0649 – 1659
Observer:  Skye Haas

Species counted:
Snow Goose – 49
Canada Goose – 76
Brant – 69
Wood Duck – 3
Gadwall – 5
American Wigeon – 1
American Black Duck – 143
Mallard – 8
Northern Pintail – 1
Green-winged Teal – 14
dabbling duck, sp. – 17
Ring-necked Duck – 16
Greater Scaup – 6
Lesser Scaup – 79
scaup, sp. – 38
aythya, sp. – 15
Common Eider – 13
Surf Scoter – 2,255
White-winged Scoter – 28
Black Scoter – 3,873
Surf/Black Scoter – 3,131
scoter, sp. – 3,160
Long-tailed Duck – 94
Bufflehead – 25
Common Goldeneye – 1
Red-breasted Merganser – 51
duck, sp. – 206
Red-throated Loon – 8,530
Common Loon – 19
loon, sp. – 8
Horned Grebe – 20
Northern Gannet – 3,641
Double-crested Cormorant – 254
Great Cormorant – 8
Great Blue Heron – 3
Great Egret – 1
Laughing Gull – 2
Ring-billed Gull – 488
Herring Gull – 807
Great Black-backed Gull – 17
gull, sp. – 531
Forster's Tern – 2

Total: 27,708

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