The Brant continue at Battery Park!


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For some time now, there has been a flock of 13 Brant at Battery Park in New Castle, Delaware. I needed Brant for my Delaware Year List, so I decided to take the short drive from Newark yesterday evening. I arrived shortly after 3:00 pm and walked towards the river scanning the grassy areas for the Brant. There were a ton of people at the park having picnics, playing sports, riding bikes, and exercising. I wasn’t sure where to begin so I walked to the southern end to scan the Delaware River for the Brant and any gulls or waterfowl that happened to be occupying the river at the time. There I found numerous Ring-billed Gulls and Canada Geese, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Ring-billed Gull perched along the Delaware River at Battery Park in New Castle, Delaware on 1 December 2012.

I then slowly moved upriver, scanning for the Brant, but also giving every gull careful inspection for anything noteworthy or uncommon. As I was walking I noticed a duck flying quickly upriver that looked long-bodied and quickly scoped it to find a Red-breasted Merganser! I needed this for my Delaware Year List as well and I was surprised to see one here.

Another 100 meters of careful observation yielded nothing out of the ordinary, but I finally stumbled upon the flock of Brant near the northern limits of the park.

Brant feeding on the lawn at Battery Park in New Castle, Delaware on 1 December 2012.

The flock was very active and were interacting with each other consistently and ignored any human that walked near or far. The birds were acting “tame” as one would say and did not fear anything or anyone, which could be bad for the birds.

I set up 30 meters from the birds for 10 or 15 minutes photographing them with my Samsung Stratosphere and Vortex Skyline 80 PhoneSkoping Rig. Even though the birds were constantly moving, I obtained several decent shots, including the ones above.

I let the celebrities alone after the photo shoot and continued walking to the northern tip of the park to scan for gulls and waterfowl. Two Mallards flew upriver as I was walking and many Ring-billed Gulls were coming in to roost for the night. Scanning from the northern portion of Battery Park yielded several Rock Pigeons, Fish Crows, more Ring-billed Gulls, several Herring Gulls, and at least five Great Black-backed Gulls.

Great Black-backed Gull perched along the Delaware River at Battery Park in New Castle, Delaware on 1 December 2012.

By this time, the sun was setting and gulls and Fish Crows were flying south out of the nearby city of Wilmington in search of a roosting location for the night. Flocks of 50 to 100 Fish Crows were streaming by, calling as they went. It was getting dark and I decided that I should head home. On the way to the car, I noticed the Brant made there way to the river to roost for the night, but were still interacting actively as the sun was setting. This provided another prime opportunity for a Brant Photo Shoot!

Daylight was fading fast and I headed home with a tally of 14 species (eBird Checklist), including two state birds, from my hour long stay at Battery Park. I will be frequenting the park over the next several weeks in search of rare or uncommon gulls flying in to roost.

All photos were taken with a Samsung Stratosphere on a Vortex Skyline 80 Spotting Scope using the Phone Skope Universal Adapter set up.

Phone Skope makes custom adapters for any smartphone and spotting scope combination. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Northern Wheatear Migration


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Northern Wheatear in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania on 10/7/2011

According to a recent study, Northern Wheatears are migrating 9,000 miles after the breeding season. Read more about the study here.