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Fall exodus of migratory birds picks up pace

A single Roseate Spoonbill has been observed associating with Wood Storks at Huntington Beach State Park.
A single Roseate Spoonbill has been observed associating with Wood Storks at Huntington Beach State Park.

The annual “fall” exodus of migratory birds continues to pick up pace in our area.

A quick trip to Huntington Beach State Park last week offered a number of feathery finds. The park is well-known as an East Coast birding spot, and even on a slow day of birding, there is sure to provide sightings of a number of bird species. Crossing the causeway, a group of wood storks was noted clustered along the far shore of Mullet Pond. It’s always nice to see these wonderful big white birds. A federally-threatened species, we’re fortunate to have them as breeding birds in the area, and to have the opportunity to observe these amazing Aves in local wetland habitats.

Along with the storks, Mullet Pond held a number of other wading bird species, including a single roseate spoonbill. Not known to breed north of the Georgia-Florida line, these curious pink birds have become annual summer and early fall visitors to the park in recent years, and are usually found associating with wood storks. Great and snowy egret, great blue, little blue, tricolored and green herons were also noted, along with anhinga, double-crested cormorant and greater yellowlegs. An osprey soared overhead, scanning the waters below in search of a morning meal. A black tern was observed diving for fish, and a royal tern put in a flyby appearance. A female belted kingfisher was flying sorties from a favored perch on one of the water control structures alongside the causeway. Several ruby-throated hummingbirds were busy in the mallow blooms alongside the pond, as a white-eyed vireo called from the adjacent shrub thicket.

Across the causeway in the saltmarsh, a small flock of white ibis were foraging in areas exposed by the receding tide. Several great and snowy egrets were also plying their trade in the channels and small pools, while a number of juvenile yellow-crowned night-herons were noted as they tracked down fiddler crabs. Clapper rails were in evidence by their sporadic calls, and a few seaside sparrows darted in and out of the marsh grasses and shoreline shrubs.

A few Eastern towhees along with Northern cardinals and a brown thrasher were observed foraging beneath the shrubs near the start of the boardwalk, and painted buntings were noted at feeders in the area where the park’s nature center was located.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds continue to make their way into and through our area. Remember to keep your feeder clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives, and let me know of the activity in your backyard.