Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Whitesbog 4/16--White-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Prairie Warbler

Spring snow at Whitesbog
It snowed early this morning. April 16 and it snowed. April 16 and I'm scraping snow off the windshield. April 16 and it is literally freezing out.

I waited for the temperature to warm up a little, figuring that the birds weren't going to be active until there was at least a little warmth in the air. I drove over to Whitesbog where I knew I could take a good long hike.

Before I was even in the parking lot I thought I'd be having a good day--not because 2 Turkey Vultures were perched on the big sign in the blueberry field on the road in, but because just beyond and above them, on a wire, I spotted an American Kestrel. It's been a good month for kestrels--that was the 4th one I've seen.

I walked through the village and out onto the bogs. It must have been warm enough to get the insects out since the first bog on the right was swarming with swallows--Tree, Barn, Northern Rough-winged, and later on, Purple Martins. On Union Pond there was a lone Tundra Swan. It's very late for these swans and I found out when I ran into my friend Len out on the road that this swan was injured (perhaps a stray shotgun pellet) and could only fly short distances. It will be interesting to see how it fares.

Things picked up when I crossed back into Ocean County. (Looking at a map, while Whitesbog Village is in Burlington County, I would say that probably 60 to 70 per cent of Whitesbog is actually in Ocean.  For those of us keeping county lists, it makes a difference.  Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were giving their sibilant little cat calls and turning off the main road for a bit I heard then quickly found my first Common Yellowthroat of the year. It was being chased through the underbrush by a Swamp Sparrow--not enough room in that bog for both birds, apparently. The sparrow was huge in comparison to the warbler and got its way.

I saw Len's truck up the road, so I made a left instead of my usual right and we caught up with each other. He told me he'd been watching warblers up the road behind us where the sun was warming the brush, so after we chatted I walked up there and sure enough, there were more yellowthroats, gnatcatchers, and yes! as he said, my FOY Prairie Warbler. Two new warblers for the Ocean County List.

At the end of my loop around the impoundments I heard for the 2nd time a song I knew I should know but it wouldn't come to mind--it sounded, at first like a flycatcher, but not like a flycatcher I knew and besides, it's too early for the flycatchers except phoebes. Then I thought "vireo" and it all came back to me--White-eyed Vireo. I pished and had the good fortune to actually have it show itself for a couple of moments. Too bad I was back in Burlington County!

So 3 new birds + a kestrel + a good chat with a friend and the temperature all the way up to 45 degrees--a good few hours on the bogs.

The day's list:
34 species
Canada Goose    1
Tundra Swan    1
Mallard    15
Double-crested Cormorant    1
Great Blue Heron    1
Turkey Vulture    3
Osprey    1
Mourning Dove    1
Northern Flicker    1
American Kestrel    1
White-eyed Vireo    1
Blue Jay    1
American Crow    1
Fish Crow    1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow    5
Purple Martin    4
Tree Swallow    30
Barn Swallow    20
Carolina Chickadee    1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher    11
American Robin    2
Black-and-white Warbler    1
Common Yellowthroat    3
Pine Warbler    1
Yellow-rumped Warbler    3
Prairie Warbler    1
Eastern Towhee    5
Savannah Sparrow    3
Song Sparrow    3
Swamp Sparrow    1
Northern Cardinal    1
Red-winged Blackbird    3
House Finch    1
American Goldfinch    1
Daffodils in snow

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