May 23, 2014

Hi..I'm in Delaware.

Don't even think about going that way
I mentioned in an earlier post that I wasn't going to Point Pelee this year for spring migration. But there's a bit more to the story. First of all, the reason. Quick version: some friends got married in Maryland on May 3rd and my wife was a bridesmaid in the wedding. What I want to know is, who gets married during bird migration?!??!!
I mean really.
Okay, the wedding was lovely. I had a great time and my wife and I planned a mini road trip afterwards. And because she's such a beautiful and thoughtful and loving person, even though she doesn't get this bizarre obsession any more than I do and has pretty much no interest in birds herself, my wife insisted that we include a stop somewhere that I could see some birds. And so I found Bombay Hook.

Just like Pelee, Red-winged Blackbirds everywhere
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge sits on the western shore of Delaware Bay a short drive from Delaware's charming capital of Dover.
After reading lists and studying the birds I might find there, the first thing I had to know about  Bombay Hook was what is up with the name. And it took very little to learn that it's a bastardization of the name given to the area by the Dutch settlers (who purchased the land from the Kahansink people). The Dutch called it Boompjes Hoeck, meaning "Little-tree Point" and, well, Americans being Americans it's now called Bombay Hook.

Almost 16,000 acres of largely tidal salt marshes (and a number of fresh water impoundments) means hundreds of thousands of birds flock here every year including quite a few species I've never seen and don't get much of a chance to see up north -- mainly a lot of shorebirds.
See the highlights after the jump and click on any image to enlarge.

Above: Short-billed Dowitchers and some Dunlin in flight; Two of the larger birds seen - Snowy Egret (lifer) and the beautiful green skin of a breeding Great Egret; And one of the smaller - a singing Grasshopper Sparrow
Below: Semi-palmated Plover; Tufted Titmouse; Gray Catbirds; Sanderling (lifer); Lesser Yellowlegs on the road
Above: Closest Encounter ever with a Tree Swallow (I could have reached out and touched him); Willet hiding in the reeds; The elusive Marsh Wren finally caught; disobedient Great Blue Heron
Below: Black-necked Stilt (lifer) getting along with a Green-winged Teal; Blue Grosbeak (lifer) - Male (left), Female (right)

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