Stone Harbor, Alapocas, and DEEC — Close Encounters and Awesome Birds!

Kelley NunnRecovery Big Year

Kelley at the South Cape May Meadows, NJ - Recovery Big Year 2016

Recovery Milestones Over The Weekend

This past weekend was nothing short of incredible– I was lucky enough to explore NJ, DE, and PA, and had some amazing experiences! And the best part is, almost all of it happened spontaneously. Below are the recovery milestones I achieved over the weekend, each of which I am very proud of as a recovering vestibular migraineur!

  • Woke up at 6:30am! — This is the earliest I’ve woken up in over 2 years! Sleep disturbance is a potent migraine trigger, as it can alter neuronal firing rates in the brain. For me, early rising is one of my biggest triggers, and waking up at 6:30 without paying the price symptom-wise was downright awesome.
  • Energy and Stamina — I can’t believe I had the energy to participate in all of the activities listed below in a single weekend! I think the B2 supplements my neurologist has prescribed are helping.
  • Walked over 29,000 steps between Saturday & Sunday! — WOAH! That’s a lot of steps. To put this in perspective, my daily goal is 5,000 steps, and I’ve only reached 10,000 on about 5 separate days. (Photos of my Fitbit One pedometer showing my step counts below!)

Step Count for Saturday -- 13,653! - Vestibular Migraine Recovery Big Year

Step Count for Saturday — 13,653!

Step Count for Sunday -- 15,414! - Vestibular Migraine Recovery Big Year

Step Count for Sunday — 15,414!

DOS Trip to Stone Harbor & Avalon, NJ

The Delmarva Ornithological Society (DOS) hosted a trip to Stone Harbor and Avalon, NJ led by expert birder and guide, Bill Stewart. Throughout the morning, we visited some awesome birding locations, like Stone Harbor Point, Nummy Island, and the Avalon 8th Street jetty. At the jetty, flocks of Purple Sandpipers and Long-tailed Ducks, two of my favorite bird species, were flying by at eye level or below, giving downright incredible looks. And! To make things even more amazing, the flocks of Black Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks along the sea wall were calling! I had never heard either of these species call in the wild before– the mournful whistles of the Black Scoters were moving and unforgettable, as were the yodels of the Long-tailed Ducks.

After the DOS trip ended, Hannah Greenberg and I drove down to Cape May, NJ to check out some of the birding hotspots there, namely the South Cape May Meadows and the Point. You can find my photos from the day below! You can click the photos to read their associated captions and to see larger versions.

Common Ravens & Pectoral Sandpipers in Wilmington, DE

For Sunday, our plan was to go kayaking at Dragon Run in Delaware City, DE, but unfortunately we were rained out. So, we decided to check out the alleged nesting pair of Common Ravens at the abandoned Bancroft Mills site bordering Alapocas. The habitat here was like nothing I’ve seen before in Delaware– huge rocky outcrops and rock wall faces that felt more like New Hampshire or Vermont than Delaware. We were lucky enough to see both members of the Common Raven pair, and afterwards decided to head over to the DuPont Environmental Education Center (DEEC) to continue our rainy day birding.

At DEEC, the low tide and recent dry spell resulted in expansive, exposed mudflats, which were loaded with Wilson’s Snipe, Killdeer, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Pintails. As we continued scanning the marshlands, we came across a trio of early migrant Pectoral Sandpipers– an early arrival date for this species in Delaware! The DEEC marsh habitat is severely under-birded and, in my opinion, deserving of much more birding activity! Photos from Bancroft Mills, Alapocas, and DEEC are below! You can click the photos to read their associated captions and to see larger versions.

Annual Spotted Salamander Sally Rally!

And last but not least, Sunday evening was the spontaneous annual Spotted Salamander Sally Rally at French Creek State Park in PA! The first warm rain of each spring means the emergence of many herp species in woodland vernal pools including Spotted, Four-toed, Red-backed Salamanders, and Jefferson Salamanders, plus Wood Frogs, Spring Peepers, and American Toads. At French Creek State Park, a road was built straight through the middle of one of the herpiest areas in the park, resulting in countless salamander and frog fatalities, especially during these early rains. So, with the state park, a woman named Lori has organized an event in which citizen scientists don reflective vests and venture out onto the roads, picking up herps that are attempting to cross the road and moving them safely to the other side, all the while keeping tallies of which species are seen.

The whole experience is truly amazing– the chance to see enormous Spotted Salamanders and countless other herps, and to get the chance to help these creatures in their springtime travels has kept me coming back year after year to help with this event. Below, you’ll find some photos from the Sally Rally. If you click on the photo, you’ll see a caption appear beneath it with the species name included.

Current Recovery Big Year Standings

Again, 2016 has been AMAZING! It has so far exceeded my expectations. What will be possible in June, September, or December of 2016? I’m extremely excited to find out. If the first three months of the year are any indication, I think the remainder of the year will be fantastic.

So far, I’ve seen 149 species of birds (out of my 275 species goal), and have completed all 3 eBird monthly challenges this year. If you’re interested in reading more about my goals for my 2016 Recovery Big Year, you can click here or on one of the images below. Thanks for reading!

Thank you to my sponsors, the Delmarva Ornithological Society and Zeiss Sports Optics, for supporting my Recovery Big Year and My Migraine Brain endeavors!