Sorry for the delay in posting Seawatch updates! I’ll be posting each week separately until we catch up to the current week!
The Avalon Seawatch is off to another season! This is the 27th count season for the Seawatch, and I’m happy to be returning for my 3rd season. Tom Reed will graciously been covering Mondays and Tuesdays at the Seawatch to allow me a couple days off (all the while finding the rarest birds he possibly can).
The first bird of the season ended up being a Pied-billed Grebe! PBGRs are quite rare at the Seawatch, with only 15 total PBGRs seen in all 26 years of the Seawatch. As PGBRs migrate primarily at night and prefer freshwater, they are very unusual to see on the ocean! Also seen on the first day was Tricolored Heron, the first for the Seawatch since 2014.
As one would expect, we had a handful of slow days in the first week, dominated largely by southerly winds. Our best day this week occurred on the 29th, with strong NNE winds at 15-20 mph, which pushed an excellent 1657 Double-crested Cormorants past the count site, along with some 68 American Oystercatchers, 43 Black Skimmers, 811 Laughing Gulls, as well as our first Common Eider (a female) and our first little push of Northern Gannets (27).
All the rarities of this week are of southern species that have been pushing northward in summer with increasing regularity in recent years. I would expect a continued trend of these species becoming more expected in the early weeks of the Seawatch in the years to come. These rarities for the first week include: an immature Brown Booby, two Sandwich Terns, and an immature White Ibis. Brown Boobys have been detected at Avalon in 3 of the last 4 years. Sandwich Terns have not been seen from Avalon since 2011 (and before that 2003). And last but not least, this is only the second ever White Ibis for the Seawatch, with the previous record being from 1996 (when WHIB were far rarer than they are today).
Overall, the first week was a bit slow in regards to our Top 5 species (scoters, loons, gannets, and cormorants), especially compared to last year! But it’s only a matter of time before things really start picking up!
See you on the beach between 8th and 9th Street!