On July 3rd, old pal and West Newbury resident Greg Keller and I invested a couple of hours birding Plum Island, MA. The area birders refer to as “Plum Island” is a complex of state, federal, and local management units, with most of the great birding concentrated at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.
As expected, we had a great day at Plum Island. I got to see Bobolinks, Willets, Seaside Sparrows, Salt Marsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows – all species I rarely get the chance to enjoy these days. We dipped out on King Rail, unfortunately, but we did well otherwise. Purple Martins were still hanging around their nests, but Tree and Barn swallows were amassing for their journey south. Willets were agitated, indicating that they had young in the vicinity – two of which we saw bobbing in the water in a pool with some ducks. Piping Plovers had several day old young out of the nest, and the adults were giving them a good bit of freedom.
The best find of the day, however, was a flyby Ruff. This was a gorgeous male which was a lifer for Greg and a virtual lifer (I saw a reeve at Craney Island, VA in 1990) for me. The bird was glossy black on the breast with a white belly, and yellow legs and bill base. We never re-found the bird after the quick look, but it was diagnostic and at least one male ruff has been resighted at Plum Creek since we were there on the 3rd.
So, here’s the quick list:
salt marsh sharp-tailed sparrow
american black duck
great black-backed gull