My trip to Delaware Bay got delayed a few days, but probably for the better as the shorebird numbers were predicted to peak in close synchrony with the peaking horseshoe crab spawning this week leading up to the full moon on Friday. The perfect weather conditions Tuesday night tempted me to try for Black Rails at Elliott's Island Rd. in Dorchester Co., Maryland so I got up at 1:30AM in order to arrive at the saltmarshes well before dawn. I arrived at 3:45AM and was greeted by a calling Barn Owl, Chuck-will's-Widows, Marsh Wrens, Saltmarsh and Seaside Sparrows, Willets and Black-necked Stilts. The frog chorus was quite ear-deafening but no Black Rails were to be heard. Only rail heard during an hour was a single Virginia Rail. Perhaps the near-full moon lighting up the marshes kept the rails quiet?I had a long day ahead of me so I headed NE and arrived at Port Mahon, Delaware shortly after 6AM. I was delighted to see hoards of shorebirds feasting on plenty crab eggs. Many horseshoe crabs were stranded between the boulders filled along the shore to protect the road from erosion and I joined the many bird enthusiasts in helping them back into the safety of the bay. Semipalmated Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones and Dunlins dominated the flocks of shorebirds, with a few Short-billed Dowitchers, Willets and Least Sandpipers mixed in. I only found a single! Red Knot and to my surprise a fly-by American Avocet!Next stop was Bombay Hook NWR, where the freshwater pools were dominated by Egrets and Glossy Ibises, Black-necked Stilts (1 female on nest), about 20 American Avocets, several hundred Black-bellied Plovers, Semipalmated Plovers, Dunlins and least Sandpipers.Snowy Egret (above) and Great Egret (below): Highlights were 2 Am. golden-plovers, and a White-rumped Sandpiper. Clapper Rails, Willets, Marsh Wrens and Seaside Sparrows were singing all over the saltmarshes:
Swamp Sparrow:Seaside Sparrow (above) and Marsh Wren (below):
Black-necked Stilt (above) and Black-bellied Plover (below):More will follow soon!