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Friday, July 27, 2018

Birding in a van, down by the river

My name is Rob Fergus.  I'm an ornithologist.  I am almost 50 years old, and I bird in a van, down by the river.

With fall migration well underway, the best place in my county for shorebirds is a small tidal flat on the Delaware River behind the Philadelphia airport.  Several times a week I try to hit there at low tide to see what comes my way.  Half a dozen Bald Eagles patrol this area and like to land on the spit as well, so oftentimes they spook birds that have landed there.  Which means you have to pay attention, because the shorebirds you want to see may only get to land for a few minutes before they get flushed and take off.

This morning a nice flock of 3 Short-billed Dowitchers, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs, and 4 Pectoral Sandpipers landed on the spit.  The pectorals were a county year bird for me, so that was great.  What wasn't so great was 1) The birds are over half a mile away out on the river, so this was the best shot I could get before 2) the eagles flushed all the birds, and the shorebirds disappeared.

At half a mile away, the best shot I could get of the dowitchers and Pectoral Sandpipers (with a Ring-billed Gull)

So its the middle of summer break.  I'm trying to get some writing done.  I'm not headed off to any exotic locations to see new birds in Australia or Nepal.  I'm birding in a van, down by the river.

But life is good.  I'm on track to become only the third person to report 200 species in this county in a calendar year.  And things could be a lot worse.  I could be eating a steady diet of government cheese, thrice divorced, and actually living in that van.

With the world going crazy, I'll take the birds!
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