Assateague "Sitters" ...
All I have received so far for this unusual fall White-faced Ibis
sighting is Bill's email, below, and his web images. If any of the
other dozen birders who saw it plan to submit any additional
documentation, please let me know.
At 07:55 PM 10/14/2009, Bill Hubick wrote:
>At approximately three a.m. on Sunday, October 11th, Jim Stasz and
>Ed Boyd kicked off the eighth "Sitting on Our Assateague" Big Sit.
>Nocturnal migration was slow, but persistence netted several of the
>more expected night migrants. It was cool, clear, and breezy, and
>the skies offered more for the astronomer than the ornithologist. It
>wasn't long before night migrants began to arrive by car, and as
>dawn approached, it was clear that some sort of birder staging event
>was underway. As the first nearly usable light fell on gulls and
>cormorants, the gossiping and lies were suspended intermittently for
>the mission at hand. It was time to count birds.
>The heron flight started slowly, but as always, there was excitement
>in the air. The first of many large V's of cormorants passed. The
>first Myrtles flit by overhead. Suddenly we observe the day's first
>major rarity - a grinning Matt Hafner, a surprise vagrant from
>Florida. Amidst hugs and handshakes are hilarious realizations about
>double-meanings of comments made via cell phone. We realize that
>Matt is the mysteriously un-named RED-NECKED PHALAROPE finder in
>Walter Ellison's recent Kent Co. post. Matt's response to the
>previous day's text saying "Those would have been county birds..."
>becomes much more funny.
>The Big Sit is a blast as always, and the action is steady for the
>duration. The good birds are complemented by the good company and
>conversation. We enjoy a fair flight of warblers that slow concedes
>reasonable diversity. Several first-of-season waterfowl - Brant,
>scoters, and American Wigeon - pass by in small flocks. With so many
>sharp eyes, easily missed species drop one by one.
>The crowd pleaser of this year's Big Sit is a Northern Flicker that
>spends the entire morning ALMOST committing to making the jump to
>the mainland. Over and over it boldly sallies forth in a strong
>undulating flight to the west. Over and over it veers slowly back to
>the left and, yeah.. no... I don't think so. Over and over the
>circle cheers and shouts encouragement and over and over we feign
>The unexpected highlight comes out of nowhere when we receive a
>phone call from Hans Holbrook, who has wandered off into the
>campground in the late morning. He'd found a flock of feeding waders
>that included two dark ibis. One of them had obvious red irises and
>looked good for a hatch-year WHITE-FACED IBIS. In a warm-up exercise
>for the Rarity Roundup, nearly the entire outfit breaks ranks and
>heads to campsite A19. Only Stasz, Hafner, and a couple others hold
>down the fort. Soon over a dozen birders had scopes trained on the
>two ibis. The bird in question had obvious, "glowing" red irises,
>light pink facial skin, and an overall paler appearance. Everyone
>still present at the Big Sit was able to see the bird, which is a
>very significant record. This was the first for Assateague Island
>and Maryland's first fall record. In fact, it was the first record
>for Maryland outside of April/May. Marshall Iliff told Hafner that
>this was only the second record for
> the East Coast in October, the other record being a specimen. Well
> done, Hans! Did I mention he picked the bird out with bins?
>The Big Sit tallied a respectable 86 species by about 12:30 p.m.,
>when birders dispersed across the state. It was the third best year
>for the Big Sit on Assateague after 103 in 2003 and 91 in 2004.
>Here's the full list, followed by some "Sitting on Our Assateague"
>stats supplied by Hafner.
Phil Davis, Secretary
MD/DC Records Committee
2549 Vale Court
Davidsonville, Maryland 21035 USA
mailto:[log in to unmask]
MD/DCRC Web site: http://www.MDBirds.org/mddcrc/rcindex.html