Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Brig 7/20--White-faced Ibis

White-faced Ibis (not that you can tell)
Brig is due to close August 1 for dike and road repairs, so it's "see 'em while you can" for the remainder of the month. Shorebird numbers are picking up nicely and will probably peak when no one but construction workers can view them.

I had made two loops of the Wildlife Drive as well as walked a couple of trails, had about 60 species, and was close to the exit when I got an alert that a White-faced Ibis was off the north dike, close to where the recent Red-necked Phalarope had been seen for a couple of weeks. There are few things more aggravating than 6 miles of one-way dirt road with a speed limit of 15 mph when you are going for a rare bird. It took me about a half hour to get back to where I had just been. And it wasn't as if I hadn't been looking for a WFIB. In the perimeter ditch on the outside of the north dike were about 50 ibises and I looked every one of them in the eye. But this ibis was standing in some reeds on the other side and was easily overlooked.

I actually, in my haste and distraction, overshot the mark and realized that by concentrating on not speeding I had passed the spillway. I parked the car and walked back about 1/4 mile at first only seeing the terns and gulls that usually roost at the spot. Then I saw two ibises. I walked toward them, put down my scope and one of them flew away! The remaining ibis continued to feed and came out a little into the shallow water. I scoped it, but, ironically, in the strong sunlight, I couldn't see a thing on it. It was just a silhouette of an ibis in the harsh light. After a minute or so of picking at the water, it turned its head and I saw it--red eyeball! That's the field mark you need, since the "white-face" of a White-faced Ibis isn't always so obvious. After a little more observation I was able to see some white around the eye, but not well enough to distinguish it from its more common glossy cousins. But then again I saw the red eye and was reasonably satisfied I had the bird. I took photos but, as you can see, at that distance, in that light, no details, much less field marks, were picked up by the camera. After about 5 minutes, the bird squawked, lifted off and flew toward Tuckerton.

White-faced Ibis was my 400th bird for the year and my fourth ibis of the year (Glossy in NJ, White in NJ & FLA, and Scarlet in T&T). While I was watching the ibis, a Willet came in a fed with it. The only Willet of the day when last week they were ubiquitous. But, I suppose, since they are local nesters, they've moved out already, making room for the birds coming down from the Arctic.

My list for 24 miles (3 loops)  of Wildlife Drive:
62 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  33
Wood Duck  2     Exit Pond
American Black Duck  2     Dog Leg
Mallard  10
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  60
Snowy Egret  20
Little Blue Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  50
White-faced Ibis  1     
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  10
American Oystercatcher  9
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  1
Lesser Yellowlegs  4
Least Sandpiper  50
Semipalmated Sandpiper  700
Western Sandpiper  1
Short-billed Dowitcher  50
Laughing Gull  100
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  75
Great Black-backed Gull  15
Least Tern  2
Gull-billed Tern  2
Caspian Tern  1
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  15
Mourning Dove  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard, Jen's Trail
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1     Leeds Eco Trail
Eastern Phoebe  1     Heard, upland
Eastern Kingbird  1
Blue Jay  1     Heard, parking lot
crow sp.  3
Purple Martin  20
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  15
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard, upland
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard, upland
White-breasted Nuthatch  1     Heard, Akers Trail
House Wren  2
Marsh Wren  4
Carolina Wren  2     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1     Heard, upland
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  50
Common Yellowthroat  3     Heard
Seaside Sparrow  4
Chipping Sparrow  1     Heard, parking lot
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard, upland
Northern Cardinal  1     Upland section
Indigo Bunting  1     Upland section
Red-winged Blackbird  10
American Goldfinch  2

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Island Beach SP 7/17--Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull
Piping Plover (imm)
The discovery of the first Piping Plover nest in decades at Island Beach precipitated the closing to vehicle traffic (and dogs) of about a 2 mile stretch of beach along the southern end of the park. Not only was this wonderful news for this endangered species, the ancillary benefit of little disturbance has been to attract a lot of other interesting birds to the beach, birds that normally are not found there, ranging from the mundane (Great Blue Herons) to the supposedly rare (Marbled Godwits).
Even though it was a Sunday in mid-summer, I decided to do my walk there this morning. I remembered from trips there with my parents that the traffic wasn't bad early in the morning, so at 7:57 I was rolling through the gates with my senior citizen pass (I also remember the delight my father took in using it) and at 8:10 I was heading for the beach.

I saw Piping Plovers earlier in the year along this beach, so I was indifferent as to seeing them again (I missed them last week when I walked there). I wanted something new for the year, the county, or, if all else failed, Bird A Day. Up ahead of me I saw three birders I knew and caught up with them. Al was "on duty" looking for the Piping Plovers as a volunteer for NJ Fish & Wildlife. I was more interested in the Lesser Black-backed Gull he'd reported the other day.

Lesser Black-backs used to be exceedingly rare this side of the Atlantic, but their occurrence is picking up. However, you really expect to see them in the winter, and up in northern NJ. To have one on the beach in mid-summer rates it a rarity. As we were walking along Al said that it was just around this spot that he seen the bird. How he could tell one spot from another on that undifferentiated beach, I don't know, but a minute later he pointed out the bird among a small flock of Herring Gulls. Lesser Black-backs are distinguished by yellow (not pink) legs, size (about the same as a Herring Gull) and mantle color (charcoal, not black). This bird had all the characteristics (the legs don't show as yellow in the photo as they appeared in "real life."). I was happy and we continued the walk, looking for the plovers, which we were pretty certain were up ahead about a 1/4 of a mile where two birders with scopes and camera were peering intently at the sand. Sure enough the birds were there, two chicks and an adult. The story I got was that there were 4 eggs, one of which got predated (that's the word Fish & Wildlife uses) and we know of two chicks. Chick # 3 is not accounted for as far as I know.

After watching the birds for a while (the chicks are adorable), and noting my first NJ Royal Tern flying overhead,  I caught up with Al and company at the inlet, where the plovers had also run to, so we got to watch them again. They're tiny birds, but they can cover a lot of ground without flying.

A couple of Brown Pelicans flying overhead were a welcome addition to the day list.

On the way back we found another Piping Plover (pictured above) no longer a chick and not yet an adult. It's origin unknown, whether it is from nearby Barnegat Light, passing through from some more distant point, or even Chick #3, it was neat to find and record it.

Not a lot of birds along the strand (beaches are deserts with water) but a good few hours and a 4 mile walk.
15 species
Double-crested Cormorant  4
Brown Pelican  2
Osprey  1
American Oystercatcher  4
Piping Plover  4     
Sanderling  150
Semipalmated Sandpiper  15
Laughing Gull  5
Herring Gull  100
Lesser Black-backed Gull  1     
Great Black-backed Gull  25
Common Tern  2
Royal Tern  1
Common Yellowthroat  2     Heard
Song Sparrow  2

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Brig 7/16--White-rumped Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Bobolink

Obligatory American Oystercatcher photo
A much better day than yesterday. Shari & I met our buddy Bob Auster down at Brig late morning and we proceeded around the impoundments, finding a nice variety of herons, egrets and shorebirds from the gull pond all the way over to the north dike. In the Gull Pond alone we had a slew of Great Egrets, an immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron,  a Little Blue Heron, and a Great Blue Heron.

Our first year bird was found by Bob off the East Dike as we were sorting through peeps. Least Sandpipers in the back on the mud, Semipalmated Sandpipers in the shallow water, segregating themselves just as Sibley shows, and in with the semis was a very fresh, very rufous Western Sandpiper showing its diagnostic chevron pattern in its feathers.

Yesterday a few rarities had been reported while I was frustrating myself in Cape May: a White Ibis, a few American Avocets, and a Pied-billed Grebe. I didn't "need" any of them, so I didn't rush up to Brig, knowing I'd be there the next day. I hoped they'd hang around. The ibis flew off a half hour after it was reported, no one saw the avocets today, so when we reached the Exit Pond, where the grebe had been reported, I mentioned it to Shari & Bob and almost immediately, Shari found it. Then Bob found it. Larry couldn't find it, despite explicit, copious instruction from both my wife and my friend as to which green patch in the back it was in front of. At first I was... annoyed, then I was... frustrated, then I started questioning whether birding was truly a waste of time, and just about when the black dogs of depression was clawing at my throat, Bob located the grebe in the scope, I saw it. and everything was fine again. Just as I have trouble hearing anyone in a noisy restaurant, lately I have been having trouble picking out birds against a "noisy" background.

We were just finishing lunch and getting ready for another go-round when who should pull into the parking lot but Mike. He and his family group had already made one circuit ahead of us and were returning from lunch. So we made it a mini-field trip and started around again. Usually I don't add many birds on the 2nd trip around, but today another 16 were added to the list, including two more year birds. First Mike found a couple of White-rumped Sandpipers in the same area that we'd previously had the Western Sandpiper. I don't think we missed them the first time, but it's certainly possible, as they are only subtly different than the more common peeps.

Then,  on the North Dike, Mike stopped the car, got out and asked, "Did you see the Bobolink?" No we hadn't, but a few seconds later we did, as it flew out of the tall grass along the outside ditch and flew west, showing nicely what Peterson dubbed its "reverse tuxedo." (Most birds are dark on the back, lighter on the stomach; Bobolinks are the opposite." Bobolinks are not common at Brig--they are more of a grassland bird than one found in marshes, but they do move through in migration, though they are more commonly heard overhead than seen.

We stopped at the Exit Pond again to try to get the grebe for Mike and his party. Looking through his scope Mike came up with Wood Ducks (even I saw one on the first trip around), and both night-herons, but the grebe was not showing in the reeds.

I came up with 63 species for the day (contrasted to 38 yesterday in Cape May), which proves that it pays to bird with others and that Brig is really one of the best places to bird on the East Coast if not all of the country.
Canada Goose  50
Mute Swan  20
Wood Duck  5     Exit Pond
Mallard  15
Pied-billed Grebe  1     
Double-crested Cormorant  10
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  75
Snowy Egret  25
Little Blue Heron  3
Black-crowned Night-Heron  4
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  2
Glossy Ibis  50
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  15
Bald Eagle  1
Clapper Rail  3
American Oystercatcher  10
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet  10
Lesser Yellowlegs  6
Whimbrel  3
Least Sandpiper  25
White-rumped Sandpiper  2      Larger shorebirds with longer wings going past tail
Semipalmated Sandpiper  50
Western Sandpiper  2
Short-billed Dowitcher  3
Laughing Gull  125
Ring-billed Gull  2
Herring Gull  75
Great Black-backed Gull  20
Least Tern  3
Gull-billed Tern  10
Caspian Tern  1
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  25
Black Skimmer  30
Mourning Dove  1     Heard upland section
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard, Exit Pond
American Crow  1     Heard
Fish Crow  5
Purple Martin  15
Tree Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  4
House Wren  2     Heard
Marsh Wren  1     Heard, North Dike
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  50
Common Yellowthroat  2     Heard
Seaside Sparrow  5
Chipping Sparrow  1     Heard
Song Sparrow  4
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard Upland section
Blue Grosbeak  1     Upland section
Indigo Bunting  1     Heard Parking Lot
Bobolink  1     North Dike, black bird with creamy nape.
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Common Grackle  1
Boat-tailed Grackle  1

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cape May 7/15--I Came, I Looked, I Failed. Twice

Black Scoter, Cape May
Permit me to grouse (bird pun intended). I went to Cape May, that birding mecca, this morning. A mecca during spring and fall migration. Maybe even in winter. But in summer, it is just a summer resort, its beaches crowded with NJ avoirdupois gleaming with sun block, leaving little room for interesting birds.

But I was in search of a specific species, far from the beach. For at least 2 weeks, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, in numbers ranging from 1 to 14, have been reported on a small, private pond in what I guess is North Cape May. Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are a favorite of mine. Not beauties, like Wood Ducks, but goofy looking birds that amuse upon sight. So, last night, seeing that they were still being reported, I determined to make the 87 mile drive down there.

My hope was that I'd drive up to the pond, see at least one duck, then do some real birding, most likely at the Cape May Meadows and the State Park. Hope is a thing without feathers. I had to detour through the main part of Cape May because Rt 109 was blocked for road work, but my GPS got me there without any problem. I pulled up to the pond and saw lots of ducks and geese, along with Laughing Gulls and some crows. All the ducks were Mallards. I looked at every Mallard, sitting on the edge of the pond or resting beneath a willow tree. No whistling ducks.

They had also been seen at the Cape May Meadows, so that was my next stop. I figured, if nothing, else, I'd find a goodly number of shorebirds, one of which I could use for Bird A Day. There wasn't that much at the meadows, every shorebird there I'd already used, and of course, not a whistling duck to be seen.

The most interesting bird I saw, above, was an an out-of-season Black Scoter, but it doesn't even rate as a rarity as a few of these ducks, like Common Loons, seem to not make the northerly flight each year.

I went over to the State Park. The hawk-watch pond was great if you like Mute Swans--there were around 70 of them and not much else. I don't like Mute Swans. Lighthouse Pond had some Mallards.
The plover ponds were empty except for some geese. Toward the back of the 2nd pond I saw two oystercatchers with a chick. The trails through the woods were closed for construction, not that I felt like walking through them, knowing that they'd likely be unproductive.

After lunch I drove back to Shunpike Road for a 2nd look at the pond, hoping that the ducks would have flown in from wherever they were hiding. They hadn't. It didn't help my spirits that I got a text alert that two were in Salem County.

I gave up, but still needed something for Bird A Day. I gave Shell Bay Avenue a try and found various gulls. I drove to the Wetlands Institute, hoping that the marshes would contain some shorebirds, but again, everything in there I'd already used. The best I could do was a Snowy Egret. I guess I have to use it eventually, but I was hoping for a less common bird to justify all the driving. So unless something unusual flies over the house this afternoon, that's the bird I'm stuck with.

Should you hear a high-pitched whine tonight, that would be me, reading that the whistling ducks have returned to the pond for the evening.

My pathetic day list:
Species                     Location
Canada Goose   Cape May Meadows
Mute Swan   Cape May Meadows
American Black Duck   Cape May Point SP
Mallard   Cape May Meadows
Black Scoter   Cape May Meadows
Great Egret   Cape May Point SP
Snowy Egret   Wetlands Institute
Glossy Ibis   Cape May Meadows
Osprey   Cape May Meadows
Clapper Rail   Wetlands Institute
American Oystercatcher   Cape May Meadows
Killdeer   Cape May Meadows
Spotted Sandpiper   Cape May Meadows
Greater Yellowlegs   Cape May Meadows
Willet   Wetlands Institute
Lesser Yellowlegs   Cape May Meadows
Least Sandpiper   Cape May Meadows
Short-billed Dowitcher   Cape May Meadows
Laughing Gull   Cape May Meadows
Herring Gull   Cape May Meadows
Great Black-backed Gull   Cape May Point SP
Common Tern   Cape May Meadows
Forster's Tern   Cape May Meadows
Mourning Dove   Cape May Meadows
Fish Crow   Wetlands Institute
Purple Martin   Cape May Meadows
Tree Swallow   Cape May Point SP
Barn Swallow   Cape May Meadows
Carolina Chickadee   Cape May Point SP
Carolina Wren   Cape May Meadows
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher   Cape May Point SP
American Robin   Wetlands Institute
Northern Mockingbird   Cape May Meadows
Common Yellowthroat   Cape May Meadows
Song Sparrow   Cape May Meadows
Northern Cardinal   Cape May Point SP
Red-winged Blackbird   Cape May Meadows
Common Grackle   Cape May Point SP

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Brig 7/9--Long-billed Dowitcher

Common Yellowthroat singing
I hitched a ride down to Brig with Mike early this morning for my 3rd trip there in 4 days. I was solo on Wednesday when I observed the phalarope, took a couple of spins yesterday with Shari as we tried to find the Ruff reported hours earlier but "only" came upon the phalarope again, and today I was part of a relatively small, but enthusiastic NJ Audubon group led by Mike.

Mike and I went around the drive before the official start of the trip and returned to the parking lot with around 50 species already listed, though neither the phalarope or the Ruff was evident. Driving around the loop the first time was like being underwater as the forecast cloudy day with late PM thunder showers turned instead into a cold, misty, "you get out of the car and let me know if there's anything worth braving the weather for" day.

However, what made the day especially fun was the presence of 3 new birders who had never been to Brig before and had little experience with shorebirds or waders, so the Mike and rest of the group focused on them, stopping for virtually every bird we saw and getting them on birds we would normally consider ho-hum, like Semipalmated Plover or Least Sandpiper. It is actually a great way to reintroduce yourself to some of these birds and really look at them instead of the just ticking them off a list. A Snowy Egret really is a cool looking bird and while I have little interest in photographing them, when one was posing close to the road on a spillway gate, I got the photographer in the group on the bird and his delight was contagious.

The two highlights of the trip were re-finding the Red-necked Phalarope (I was glad Shari got a chance to see this bird yesterday, too) for those in the group who hadn't had it for the year (or in the in the case of 4 in the group, their life) and Mike's discovery of a Long-billed Dowitcher in a small flock of its short-billed cousins. Since these birds are very hard to separate, I'd be hesitant to make the call in such murky light at the distance we were at, but once Mike pointed out the bird, the difference in size, structure, & color were noticeable. It is a rarity in July. In September the reverse will be true--dowitchers then will most likely be long-billed while the short-bills are already south.
Marsh Wren
In the "What I Learned Today" category:

We came across this pretty Marsh Wren doing what a birder in our car called a "van Damme." Not being a fan of 80's martial arts films I had no idea what he was talking about until it was explained to me that Jean-Claude van Damme had a trademark move where he would hold himself up between two walls by spreading and tensing his legs (and then, I presume, beating the bad guys senseless from his superior position). All things considered, I'd rather see a Marsh Wren do it in phragmites.

Starting at 7 and leaving at 4 I listed 74 species, while the entire group list was, I think, 85. Another few weeks, if Brig is open for fall migration instead of closed again for road repair, it will not be unheard of to tally 100 species in a long day there. We missed some easy ones today like Tree Swallow and Blue Jay. Yesterday's Ruff seems to have been a 2 hour wonder.

Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  4
Wood Duck  2
American Black Duck  3
Mallard  10
Blue-winged Teal  2
Wild Turkey  1     Upland section
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  30
Snowy Egret  35
Little Blue Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  6
Glossy Ibis  35
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  20
Cooper's Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  3
American Oystercatcher  9
Black-bellied Plover  25
Semipalmated Plover  1
Spotted Sandpiper  3
Greater Yellowlegs  20
Willet  50
Lesser Yellowlegs  7
Whimbrel  2
Least Sandpiper  30
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1
Short-billed Dowitcher  40
Long-billed Dowitcher  1     
Red-necked Phalarope  1     Seen near  water control spillway at north dike
Laughing Gull  150
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  10
Least Tern  1
Gull-billed Tern  8
Caspian Tern  1
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  60
Mourning Dove  5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1     Heard flying over our heads at picnic tables
Northern Flicker  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Eastern Wood-Pewee  1     Heard upland section
Great Crested Flycatcher  2     Heard
Eastern Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard upland section
Fish Crow  5
Purple Martin  5
Bank Swallow  2     Gull Pond
Barn Swallow  25
Carolina Chickadee  2     Heard upland section
House Wren  1     Heard parking lot
Marsh Wren  4
Carolina Wren  1     Heard parking lot
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  2
European Starling  75
Cedar Waxwing  1
Common Yellowthroat  10
Seaside Sparrow  15
Chipping Sparrow  1     Heard
Field Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  3
Eastern Towhee  2     Heard upland section
Northern Cardinal  4
Blue Grosbeak  3
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Common Grackle  3
Boat-tailed Grackle  1
Orchard Oriole  2
American Goldfinch  2

Blue Grosbeak

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Brig 7/6--Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope with Forster's Terns and Laughing Gulls, Brig
On Saturday, I took my visiting friends from the Berkshires, Sue & Roy, down to Brig for a spin around the dikes. Living in the hills as they do, any coastal bird was interesting to them and the skimmers, terns, willets, oystercatchers, etc. were easy to view and photograph. I, on the other hand, an an ulterior motive--the day before a Red-necked Phalarope had been reported from the north dike and I was hoping to add that bird to my year list. But, though it seemed like there were a lot of birds there for my visitors, to me, the place was dead. Nothing new or "interesting" showed up, certainly not a rare phalarope.

Later that evening, as I was taking out the trash, I heard Mike's voice. I couldn't place the source until I realized it was coming out of my pocket. It was not an aural hallucination. Somehow, I had managed to "butt call" him (again) and he was responding. As it happened, he was down at Brig at dusk and had seen the bird. While I was tempted to run down there the next day, I didn't think my company would enjoy the chase and with one thing another, I wasn't able to get down there until this morning.

Judging from the previous reports, I wasn't optimistic about my chances, since most people were seeing the bird later in the day. The tide seemed fairly low when I started out on the 8 mile drive, another factor working against me since I had the feeling the bird was coming in with the tide. And, naturally, on my first loop, after assiduous searching at the water control spillway where it had been seen for the last 5 days, it was "too late, the phalarope" for me.

The greenhead flies were pinging off the car but the air conditioning kept them at bay, the temperature was reaching 90 (just the way I like it), and the tide seemed to be coming in, so why not another loop?  On my 2nd ride I added some birds I had missed like Gull-billed Tern, Least Sandpiper, and Least Tern (the latter a very hard bird for me to find this year), so I figured I wasn't completely wasting my time.
Least Tern with Forster's Terns & imm Laughing Gull
Least Sandpipers
I made the turn at the dogleg and up ahead saw a couple of cars stopped at the guard rail over the conduit. As soon as I got out of my car one of the guys said "Red-necked Phalarope." It had come in with the tide.I took a quick peek in his scope then put it in my scope to make it official. 

It is a very pretty bird. Phalarope are sexually dimorphic and in reverse to boot, the females being much more colorful than the males. As had been noted before about this bird, it was not acting like a phalarope, either sitting on the mud flat or picking daintily at the mud instead of spinning around dementedly as phalaropes are wont to do. 

It has been a while (June 11 to be exact) since I put a bird on the year list. RNPH is a very good entry for Bird A Day, which is becoming a slog; if southern migration doesn't start soon, I am going to have to start using the "easy" birds long before I want to. 

My list for the two loops:
54 species
Canada Goose  125
Mute Swan  8
Wood Duck  1
American Black Duck  5
Mallard  8
Double-crested Cormorant  45
Great Blue Heron  5
Great Egret  75
Snowy Egret  70
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
Glossy Ibis  40
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  15
American Oystercatcher  4
Greater Yellowlegs  4
Willet  15
Lesser Yellowlegs  6
Least Sandpiper  2
Red-necked Phalarope  1     
Laughing Gull  100
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  10
Least Tern  2
Gull-billed Tern  3
Caspian Tern  1
Forster's Tern  75
Black Skimmer  30
Mourning Dove  2
Peregrine Falcon  3
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2     Heard
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  10
Purple Martin  5
Tree Swallow  4
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard
House Wren  1     Heard
Marsh Wren  3     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
American Robin  1     Heard
Gray Catbird  5
European Starling  100
Common Yellowthroat  4
Seaside Sparrow  3
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  1
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard
Indigo Bunting  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  75
Common Grackle  5
Boat-tailed Grackle  15
House Finch  2
American Goldfinch  2

Thursday, June 30, 2016

June Swoon

Baby bluebirds at Bright View Farm
As predicted, June was a very slow month, adding only 5 year birds and a frustrating month, missing two biggies--Upland Sandpiper at Lakehurst and Kentucky Warbler in Smithville Park . There were a few species I declined to chase because I didn't feel like driving to Cape May or into the wilds of Hunterdon County.

Horned Lark, Laurel Run Park
I spent a lot of time looking for candidates for Bird A Day--by the time the summer doldrums come around, all the "easy" birds are either used or else "in the bank" for later in the year. Yesterday was a good example of the search. I spent a very pleasant morning with Chris (of Rocky Raccoon fame) at Bright View Farm in Burlington, a place I'd never been. Bobolinks are often seen there and while we had a pretty good day, Bobolinks were not seen there yesterday. I was hoping to use Bobolink for BAD and as all the other birds I saw there were either used or "banked," I drove another 40 minutes deeper into the county, back to Laurel Run Park, where, Chris assured me, Horned Larks were still running around the parking lot. When I first arrived I didn't see any larks, and walk around the winter wheat fields didn't reveal any Dickcissels. Grasshopper Sparrow was a very small consolation prize for all the driving, I thought. But, one more walk around the stubble and gravel near the entrance found a lark beneath a tree. It, and another lark, were semi-cooperative, and I was happy to have the bird on the list because I may go a long time before I see another one.

Today, I was down at Great Bay Blvd, hoping for a pelican or a Least Tern, but came away with neither. I suspect one of the herons or egrets I haven't used yet will be "burned" to keep the list going, that is unless I see a Common Nighthawk over the house or at the Blue Claws game in Lakewood tonight.

We did have a couple of nighthawks over the house two weeks ago when we held a whip-poor-will party with Chris, Susan (who photographed Rocky) and spouses. It was wildly successful as after the appetizer of nighthawks, the whips put on a show, with probably 6 or 7 calling from every direction. It was a life bird for Susan, and Chris said he hadn't heard one in 10 or 15 years.

Other highlights of the month included my walk around Brig (for which my timing was perfect, as a week later the greenhead flies were out in all their viciousness) and our trip up to Old Mine Road.

Lowlights: the misses at Lakehurst, Smithville, and, as an omen, on the first day of the month, missing Black-bellied Whistling Duck in a nondescript park in Robbinsville. (Interestingly, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks seem to prefer out of the way bodies of water, as the dozen down in Cape May on an obscure pond confirm.)

For the month I had 128 species, all in New Jersey.
Counties birded: Atlantic, Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean
Species              First Sighting
Canada Goose   Wells Mills Park
Mute Swan   Forsythe-Barnegat
Wood Duck   Cranberry Bogs--Dover Rd
American Black Duck   Forsythe-Barnegat
Mallard   Wells Mills Park
Northern Shoveler   Forsythe-Barnegat
Wild Turkey   Old Mine Road IBA
Common Loon   Great Bay Bvld
Double-crested Cormorant   Island Beach SP
Great Blue Heron   Assunpink WMA
Great Egret   Forsythe-Barnegat
Snowy Egret   Forsythe-Barnegat
Little Blue Heron   Forsythe-Barnegat
Tricolored Heron   Island Beach SP
Green Heron   Old Mine Road IBA
Black-crowned Night-Heron   Island Beach SP
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron   Island Beach SP
Glossy Ibis   Island Beach SP
Black Vulture   Union Transportation Trail
Turkey Vulture   Assunpink WMA
Osprey   Island Beach SP
Mississippi Kite   Waretown
Bald Eagle   Brig
Red-tailed Hawk   W. Bay Ave--Barnegat
Clapper Rail   Great Bay Bvld
American Oystercatcher   Brig
Black-bellied Plover   Island Beach SP
Piping Plover   Island Beach SP
Killdeer   Old Mine Road IBA
Spotted Sandpiper   Old Mine Road IBA
Greater Yellowlegs   Cranberry Bogs--Dover Rd
Willet   Island Beach SP
Semipalmated Sandpiper   Island Beach SP
Laughing Gull   Forsythe-Barnegat
Ring-billed Gull   Lakehurst NAES
Herring Gull   Island Beach SP
Great Black-backed Gull   Great Bay Bvld
Gull-billed Tern   Brig
Caspian Tern   Island Beach SP
Common Tern   Brig
Forster's Tern   Island Beach SP
Black Skimmer   Brig
Rock Pigeon   Toms River
Mourning Dove   Wells Mills Park
Yellow-billed Cuckoo   Old Mine Road IBA
Black-billed Cuckoo   Cloverdale Farm
Common Nighthawk   Lakehurst NAES
Eastern Whip-poor-will   35 Sunset Rd
Chimney Swift   West Lake Park
Ruby-throated Hummingbird   Cloverdale Farm
Belted Kingfisher   Old Mine Road IBA
Red-headed Woodpecker   Colliers Mills WMA
Red-bellied Woodpecker   Cloverdale Farm
Downy Woodpecker   Wells Mills Park
Hairy Woodpecker   Walnford Park
Northern Flicker   Assunpink WMA
American Kestrel   Lakehurst NAES
Peregrine Falcon   Island Beach SP
Eastern Wood-Pewee   Wells Mills Park
Acadian Flycatcher   Assunpink WMA
Willow Flycatcher   Island Beach SP
Least Flycatcher   Old Mine Road IBA
Eastern Phoebe   Wells Mills Park
Great Crested Flycatcher   Wells Mills Park
Eastern Kingbird   Cloverdale Farm
White-eyed Vireo   Wells Mills Park
Yellow-throated Vireo   Old Mine Road IBA
Warbling Vireo   Assunpink WMA
Red-eyed Vireo   Wells Mills Park
Blue Jay   Wells Mills Park
American Crow   Wells Mills Park
Fish Crow   Wells Mills Park
Common Raven   Old Mine Road IBA
Horned Lark   Laurel Run Park
Northern Rough-winged Swallow   Assunpink WMA
Purple Martin   Lakehurst NAES
Tree Swallow   Cloverdale Farm
Barn Swallow   Forsythe-Barnegat
Carolina Chickadee   Wells Mills Park
Black-capped Chickadee   Old Mine Road IBA
Tufted Titmouse   Wells Mills Park
White-breasted Nuthatch   Wells Mills Park
House Wren   Cloverdale Farm
Marsh Wren   Forsythe-Barnegat
Carolina Wren   Old Mine Road IBA
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher   Wells Mills Park
Eastern Bluebird   Colliers Mills WMA
Veery   Old Mine Road IBA
Wood Thrush   Assunpink WMA
American Robin   Cloverdale Farm
Gray Catbird   Wells Mills Park
Brown Thrasher   White's Bogs
Northern Mockingbird   West Lake Park
European Starling   Wells Mills Park
Cedar Waxwing   Assunpink WMA
Ovenbird   Wells Mills Park
Black-and-white Warbler   Wells Mills Park
Common Yellowthroat   Wells Mills Park
Hooded Warbler   Old Mine Road IBA
American Redstart   Old Mine Road IBA
Cerulean Warbler   Old Mine Road IBA
Northern Parula   Old Mine Road IBA
Yellow Warbler   Assunpink WMA
Pine Warbler   Wells Mills Park
Prairie Warbler   Wells Mills Park
Black-throated Green Warbler   Old Mine Road IBA
Grasshopper Sparrow   Colliers Mills WMA
Saltmarsh Sparrow   Great Bay Bvld
Seaside Sparrow   Great Bay Bvld
Chipping Sparrow   Cloverdale Farm
Field Sparrow   Assunpink WMA
Song Sparrow   Forsythe-Barnegat
Eastern Towhee   Wells Mills Park
Scarlet Tanager   Old Mine Road IBA
Northern Cardinal   Wells Mills Park
Blue Grosbeak   Union Transportation Trail
Indigo Bunting   Assunpink WMA
Dickcissel   Laurel Run Park
Red-winged Blackbird   Cloverdale Farm
Eastern Meadowlark   Lakehurst NAES
Common Grackle   Cloverdale Farm
Boat-tailed Grackle   Island Beach SP
Brown-headed Cowbird   Cloverdale Farm
Orchard Oriole   Old Mine Road IBA
Baltimore Oriole   Old Mine Road IBA
House Finch   Cloverdale Farm
American Goldfinch   Island Beach SP
House Sparrow   West Lake Park
Common Yellowthroat, Assunpink