Monday, February 29, 2016

Bombay Hook NWR

Yesterday was only the fifth sunny day in the Philadelphia area during February. We took full advantage and went early morning to Bombay Hook NWR near Smyrna, Delaware. The refuge during winter in a prime location for observing wintering waterfowl, and there were abundant numbers in attendance.

But the highlight of this preview-of-Spring day was two songbirds.

In fresh Spring plumage, Tufted Titmice were enthusiastically singing. Actually, their singing was vocal dueling. The ladies were nearby watching, listening, and assessing.

Tufted Titmouse

The second songbird highlight was the Yellow-rumped Warbler. They were not yet singing, but they showed clear signs that song fests are not far off - they were well along in their molt to breeding plumage, as this individual will testify. His yellow cap and sides are much more brilliant than in winter plumage, but the black and white of his body is not quite as crisp as it will be when he makes his way north.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Among the waterfowl, I was especially pleased at the number of Tundra Swans. I counted upwards of 80 in the various pools. I usually see them along the mid-Atlantic coast during winter, but rarely in the numbers I saw yesterday.

Tundra Swans (Shovelers in foreground)

All of the usual puddle ducks, and a few diving ducks, were present, and the drakes were brilliant in fresh breeding plumage.

Northern Shovelers
Northern Shovelers
Northern Pintails
Ring-necked Duck
Can you identify these dabblers?


 And finally ... this first year Great Blue Heron has yet to achieve the resplendent plumage of a breeding adult, but he/she survived its first winter.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

The day ended with 40+ species. Not too bad for late winter birding.

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