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Birdwalk Highlights for 8/27: Wharton Point and Highland Road, Brunswick.

Wow! It was like the good ol' days at Wharton Point, at least for the number of Semipalmated Sandpipers and the overall performance of the shorebird show today.


We arrived at prime time, with the tide rapidly rolling in. We were greeted by a MERLIN overlooking the parking lot, but luckily she departed before the large number of shorebirds began to move in. At the shoreline, a very large flock of SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS was apparent at first, but the numbers continued to grow. I tallied at least 340 (counting by 2's) before flocks moved around and continued to grow. I finally came up with a conservative estimate of 450-500! Every individual close enough to age were juveniles, as expected, and one large group came in nice and close to sort through. Surprisingly, we only teased out 3 fly-by LEAST SANDPIPERS among the mass. This was the largest flock of peeps that I have seen here in several years.


BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS were numerous, as is usual here, with a goodly tally of 118 today. A few were still in near-high breeding plumage, too. We had great looks at many of them, both in flight and feeding on the mudflats. 6 GREATER YELLOWLEGS and 1 LESSER YELLOWLEGS were joined by 6 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. Later, a lone SEMIPALMATED PLOVER nearly at our feet joined 6 more as they looked for a place to roost.


14 SNOWY EGRETS and 4 GREAT BLUE HERONS were patrolling the shallows, with a good mix of RING-BILLED (50) and HERRING GULLS (15+), with a couple of GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS as well.


But the highlight was the arrival of an immature PEREGRINE FALCON that took a run at the Semi-sands, putting the flock up and engaging in evasive maneuvers.


Meanwhile, a couple of OSPREYS passed overhead, a family of NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS worked the shoreline, and GRAY CATBIRDS and a RED-EYED VIREO were being vocal from the shrubline. A trickle of BOBOLINKS were on the go overhead and a lone NELSON'S SPARROW was calling; a few of us had a glimpse of it.


We finished up with a very short walk along Highland Road, with a nice flock of 18 EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, about 8 CHIPPING SPARROWS, and several AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES greeting us upon arrival.


Watching the bluebirds alight in a dead snag, Will spotted an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER - always a treat to see in migration! I was looking at an EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE in the same tree, but the "two bird theory" proved true this time! Later a couple of EASTERN PHOEBES took advantage of the same perch.


The Olive-sided was a great way to end a spectacular morning outing.


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