Tag Archives: Brigantine

Birding Brigantine

I had come to the Brigantine division of the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge to look for sparrows.  An odd thing to do perhaps, but I was specifically looking for the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow.  I had seen several reports of them being there.  It would be a life bird.

As I stood next to my car on the 8-mile Wildlife Drive loop, sorting through the sparrows popping up and down in the reeds, I could hear Snow Geese calling (I would not call it honking, really).  I had finally stopped looking up every time a flock of them flew over gleaming in the wan sunlight, to concentrate on the task at hand.  It was a sparrow-fest and I was looking for one that was different.  I saw lots of Swamp, Savannah, Song, Seaside and Song Sparrows but no Sharp-taileds.

I got back in my car to continue creeping along the road.  Up ahead I could see swirling clouds of birds.  Craning my head out the window I checked the skies for eagles or maybe a Peregrine.  It turns out the ruckus was just more and more flocks of black birds coming in.  As I got further up the road, I hopped out to look as one flock went over.  Brant!  They were all Brant.  Holey Moley.

I hustled up to the tower.  I wanted to stand up there with them to feel the urgency, the pull, the drive of migration.

Overhead flock after flock of birds was coming in a steady stream.   Clouds of birds flowed over me, around me.  I stood alone on the tower pirouetting as I watched them swirl about the tower. It was the most Brant I had ever seen.

Brigantine held lots of Snow Geese, Canada Geese, Pintail Ducks, Ruddy Ducks and Mallards.  Sandpipers rose and fell at very shadow.  I saw Clapper Rail and Black-bellied Plovers.  Many birds slept tucked into the reeds and grasses while others gorged themselves oblivious to the arrival of new neighbors.

And in the end, yes, I did get the Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, but it was overshadowed by the spectacle of the arrival of the Brant.


Filed under migration, Travel