Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Going Coastal for Razorbills!

Sunday, I finally got the chance to go coastal to look for Razorbills. Indian River Inlet is the hotspot for Razorbills in the state of Delaware and quite a few have been seen over the past couple of months during what is certainly an aberrant movement to southerly waters. I picked up Alan Kneidel in Dover and we drove an hour and a half to the inlet drooling over the hoards of Snow Geese lining Highway 1. We casually scanned the flocks that were close to the road and Alan picked out this drive-by Ross's Goose:

Ross's Goose along Church Rd. in Sussex County, Delaware on 10 February 2013. Note the neck-banded Snow Goose behind the Ross's that we failed to notice when watching this bird. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.
We got to the inlet around 8:30 and immediately drove through the campground picking up 53 Snow Buntings. We made our way to the seawatching spot, which is the south side of the inlet. There were plenty of Black and Surf Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, and loons loafing around the jetties.

Long-tailed Ducks at the Indian River Inlet on 10 February 2013. Photo by Tim Schreckengost
Thirty minutes passed and we finally had a lone Razorbill fly in and then out shortly after providing a short, but satisfactory look. Another few minutes passed and up to three flew in and then out again. The Razorbills were only sitting for thirty seconds, max. I went looking for other ducks in the inlet and was pleased to find this cooperative bird within phoneskoping distance:

One of at least five Razorbills present at the Indian River Inlet on 10 February 2013. Photo by Tim Schreckengost.
The bird hung around for at least ten or fifteen minutes allowing for this video as well:

Eventually, it had to leave providing an awesome sequence of in flight, but somewhat out of focus shots! (If anyone would like to make a composite image from any of these photos, I would greatly appreciate it!)

If you're unfamiliar with the Phone Skope, check out Robert's review here: http://www.birdingisfun.com/2012/12/review-phone-skope.html

The video, Long-tailed Duck photo, and the first Razorbill shot were both taken with the iPhone 4s Phone Skope adapter and Vortex Skyline 80 Spotting Scope.

Until next time, bird hard my friends.


  1. Interesting post. We are in FL where there has been a historic Razorbill invasion since Dec. There have been thousands of them in the state, many of them have died due to inability to get enough food, but some are still being seen.

    1. Wow, that's incredible. Hard to believe that such an amazing event can turn into such a tragedy.

  2. You had me at 53 Snow Buntings...
    You just had to throw Long-tailed Ducks in there too, and then the Razorbill entree.

    Nice work Tim. you walked the Razor's edge! Nice photos, great read.

    1. Definitely a high count of Snow Buntings for sure! The largest flock I've seen was over 200 birds in central/western Pennsylvania. Long-tailed Ducks are beautiful birds and the Razorbills were just icing on the cake!