Friday, May 30, 2014

Great Bay Blvd WMA 5/30--Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Saltmarsh Sparrow

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Our neighbor Jerry stopped by around noon to ask me if I wanted to go down to Tuckerton with him. We do this a few times a year--Jerry crabs from the first wooden bridge and I hang out with him looking at birds. It's fun to go down there with him--I don't like crabs and wouldn't hold one on a bet, but Jerry is a fun guy and it's amusing as well as instructive (and sometimes gross) to watch him do something so far out of my zone.
It's all in the wrist
Throwing one of those crab cages over the side looks easy until you try to do it and even pulling one up--Jerry always insists that I pull at least one cage up so we can tell Shari I was crabbing--is hard work. You have to gather in the string fast and the cage offers plenty of resistance coming up out of the water.

Jerry threw six cages over the side. He didn't think he'd get much today because the tide was wrong: outgoing. Good for me because mud flats would attract birds, but bad for crabbing. However, his cages weren't in the water more than 5 minutes before he pulled
First crab of the year.
one up with a keeper. By the time we left, about 3 1/2 hours later, he had around 25 crabs.

It's also fun to go with Jerry because when I find a cool bird he gets very enthusiastic. Today, right off, I found a Tricolored Heron, put it in the scope and Jerry went "Wow!" He said it was only the 2nd Tricolored he'd every seen and the first one was just a flyover. Later, I found my first Yellow-crowned Night-Heron of the year and Jerry got all hopped about that one too. He's always amazed at how well you can see a distant bird in a scope.

I also took a walk down to the last bridge--probably about a mile or so more down the road. I was hoping for sparrows and finally, on the trip back, I saw standing on a mat of reeds my first Saltmarsh Sparrow for the year. I had thought I had heard one earlier, in more less the same spot. They can be devilishly hard to find since they don't fly nearly as much as they run on the ground like mice, but this one, for a second or two, was right out in the open.

Is birding considered loitering?
On days down in Tuckerton with Jerry, I don't get out to Great Bay inlet, so my bird count isn't as large as it would be if I didn't my usual routine, but 27 species is a respectable number, especially since most of them were found standing in one place--one place that, according to all the signs, we shouldn't have been.
Mute Swan  2
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Great Egret  25
Snowy Egret  4
Tricolored Heron  5
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  4
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  3
Clapper Rail  2     Heard
Semipalmated Plover  1
Willet  15
Semipalmated Sandpiper  12
Laughing Gull  50
Herring Gull  25
Great Black-backed Gull  5
Forster's Tern  5
Mourning Dove  1
Willow Flycatcher  1     Heard
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  25
Common Yellowthroat  4
Yellow Warbler
Saltmarsh Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  5
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Boat-tailed Grackle  25

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Front Yard 5/29--Great Horned Owl

I stepped outside at dusk to try to hear "the" whip-poor-will. I haven't heard one in a few days. My neighbor across the street was on his lawn with his dog; he said, "You hear the owl?" East of the house, we could hear it clearly, somewhere in the woods, "Hoo hoo hoohoo." A Great Horned Owl. A surprise for the day and my 200th bird for the month.

Regarding the fawn: it's gone, but not because the mother came. No, people around here just couldn't leave it alone. I saw one fool sit down next to it and pet it for a long time, getting her scent all over it, which would discourage the mother, as I understand it. Others came around to gawk and I think what happened is that someone who doesn't like deer called the HOA and the authorities disappeared the animal. I knew it wouldn't last. It's one less deer in this world and no big deal; what bothers me is having stupidity pushed in my face.

It Followed Me Home--Can I Keep It?

I was filling up one of the bird feeders, minding my own business, as the saying goes, when one of the guys from the lawn crew and a neighbor walked up the path, carrying a new-born fawn. The crew had found it in the middle of a lawn across the street and it was in the way of the mowers. Someone said, "Bring it to Shari, she loves animals," and they plunked it down on our lawn. The neighbor called the local humane society and their response was that if it was still there in 2 days, call them back. Usually, the mother comes for the baby at night. But since we had moved it, how would the mother know where it was? And with the feral cats in the neighborhood, not to mention raccoons and coyotes, how would it survive 2 days?

Within 5 minutes the baby was the talk of the neighborhood, everyone with an opinion.

Shari texted our friend Mike who knows about these things and he said, "Put it back where you found it. The mother will come for it." So, I went back to the neighbor, found out where exactly it had been discovered and Shari wrapped it in a blanket--they don't get cold, our friend Jerry (pictured with Shari) said--but they do have ticks, we countered--and after some misdirections, she found the spot across the street where the fawn was found and laid it down--still wrapped in a blanket--to the mild annoyance of the person who lived there. With luck, the mother will come back.  Or else someone else will pick it up and try to bring it back to us again. Meanwhile, you just know, someone is calling the Homeowner's Association to complain.

Fun fact: fawns bleat like lambs when picked up.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Assunpink WMA Navigation Beacon 5/28--Yellow-breasted Chat, Indigo Bunting

It looks ominous and mysterious, but it is just an FAA navigation beacon plunked down in the fields of  the Assunpink WMA, where, at this time of year, it is a good place to look for chats.

Bob Dodelson, who birds Assunpink more than anybody, reported the chats there and gave very precise directions as to where to find them. I know the area pretty well and knew where he was talking about. Still, while I found Indigo Buntings in profusion--as Bob said there were--despite walking up and down the tree line for more than a half hour, I didn't come up with any of the elusive big warblers. I walked back to the main path then decided to go back and try again. Still nothing. Then, while idly scanning the fields, there one was, sitting atop a plant, a big warbler with a  dark back, white eyebrow, good sized beak, and very yellow breast standing out against all that green--a Yellow-breasted Chat, as if served up on a platter.

It is amazing how my mood changes after I find a bird I'm looking for, so despite the cool, gloomy weather, I headed up the hill toward the beacon feeling pretty happy and now looking for exercise as well as birds. I almost got run over a couple of times by horses--first a guy in a sulky working out his trotter on the hills and then later a woman on a nervous horse (I, apparently, was the source of its irritation) on the narrow path to the Norway spruce grove. Both times it was the horse's snorting that made me aware of something coming up behind me--I don't often hear snorting when I'm birding.

Just before the spruce grove, while scanning the fields and finding pairs of Indigo Buntings (one female was carrying nesting material) I found another blue bird that was different--the brown on its wings was the first hint and then, when it turn around, the big honker confirmed that it was a Blue Grosbeak. Did pretty well with the grosbeaks this month--Rose-breasted, Blue, Black-headed, and Evening.
Field Sparrow

Those field are also good habitat for Grasshopper Sparrows and I was actively looking for them. A few times I thought I saw one it turned out to be a Field Sparrow instead. Their bouncing ball song could be heard everywhere I walked today. I may actually have heard a Grasshopper Sparrow or two today, but it was only the buzzy end of the song I was hearing, not the little spitting sounds at the beginning, so I wasn't sure--could have been an actual grasshopper I suppose.

I walked a little farther than I usually do--out of curiosity I took a path that went down from the spruce grove hill and after about 10 minutes would up at the back of Stone Tavern Lake, which I thought was pretty cool, despite there not being a bird on, around, or over the lake.

I was thinking about birding the other side of the WMA, but just as I got to Imlaystown Road, the rain came and I turned around for home.

22 species
Canada Goose  11     f/o
Turkey Vulture  1
Mourning Dove  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3     Heard
Eastern Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  2     Heard
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  3
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard
Wood Thrush  1     Heard
American Robin  5
Gray Catbird  20
Brown Thrasher  1
Common Yellowthroat  25
Yellow-breasted Chat
Eastern Towhee  2
Chipping Sparrow  1     Heard
Field Sparrow  5
Northern Cardinal  2     Norway spruces
Blue Grosbeak  1     
Indigo Bunting  12     
Red-winged Blackbird  2

Monday, May 26, 2014

Brigantine 5/26--White-rumped Sandpiper

American Oystercatchers, Laughing Gulls, Dunlins, Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers
Photos: Shari Zirlin
When in doubt, go to Brig. I had an idea today about going to a more local place that is not birded much where some hard to find warblers can be found, if you're lucky, but when I woke up this morning the idea of slogging around a tick-infested marsh on a slippery boardwalk that is partially submerged, especially after the recent heavy rains, seemed like a low percentage play--we might get a couple of "good" birds, or we might just get sweaty and bitten.

At Brig, on the other hand, you know you're going to find a lot of birds. And with just a little luck, you'll find something interesting. Our luck started right at the entrance ponds on Great Creek Road. We always stop there for at least a few moments just to scan the ponds and today we saw a birder we know so we pulled over and asked him what he had. He thought he had an oriole but couldn't find it. We heard it singing. I don't know orioles that well. After a few moments we spotted it in a red maple, a yellow bird with a black bib--a first summer male Orchard Oriole. A very nice bird to start the day.

Later, at the Gull Pond with the same guy, we were discussing our strengths and weaknesses regarding shorebird i.d.; I, for instance, would be very hesitant to call a Western Sandpiper unless I was standing right on top of it and had all the field marks. Our friend said that he had never seen a White-rumped Sandpiper without somone pointing it out to him. A minute later I had one in my scope and hesitated pointing it out to him, but I couldn't resist. He got his white-rump and his record remains clean.

On the Wildlife Drive before the observation tower there were a slew of sandpipers and in one patch we came across American Oystercatchers, mixed in with Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlins, and the like (see photo above). This made Shari very happy, as it is her favorite bird. I thought it would take us a bit longer to find them, but I knew that a couple had been nesting down the road. Sure enough, there were two more oystercatchers just beyond the tower. It doesn't look like their nest, which was just a scrape in the sand next to the road, was successful, since I couldn't find the eggs I had seen a couple of weeks ago and there were no young on the scene. I don't know if they'll make a second attempt. This bird was just sitting, not sitting on eggs.

Further on down the road, at the first turn, we came across a couple of Gull-billed Terns exchanging food, which looked like courtship to me. They were the only two terns besides Forster's Terns we saw today--no Caspians or Leasts.

Frustration of the day was hearing a bird on the upland portion of the trail. The "song" was, "Fitz-bew...dee dee dee." Now, "fitz-bew" is easy--that would be a Willow Flycatcher. But the "dee-dee-dee" is not part of the Willow Flycatcher's repertoire. So I don't know what it was--maybe a mimid playing with me.

For the day we had 63 species--certainly more than we would have found at my original destination. I still want to go there--I just didn't want to make Shari miserable. For one thing, there is no possibility of an oystercatcher in an inland marsh.

Canada Goose  100     many with goslings
Mute Swan  7     Gull Pond
American Black Duck  10
Mallard  9
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Egret  15
Snowy Egret  3
Tricolored Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  45
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  10
Bald Eagle  1     f/o Jen's Trail
Clapper Rail  2
American Oystercatcher  4
Black-bellied Plover  15
Semipalmated Plover  5
Greater Yellowlegs  1     Heard
Willet  15
Ruddy Turnstone  20
Dunlin  500
Least Sandpiper  3
White-rumped Sandpiper  5
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1000
Short-billed Dowitcher  25
Laughing Gull  200
Herring Gull  10
Gull-billed Tern  2
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  100
Mourning Dove  1     Heard
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard picnic tables
Northern Flicker  1     Picnic tables
Peregrine Falcon  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1     Heard
Eastern Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  2
Fish Crow  5
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Purple Martin  25
Tree Swallow  4
Barn Swallow  20
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
Marsh Wren  8     Saw one briefly, heard others
Carolina Wren  2     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1     Heard
Gray Catbird
Common Yellowthroat  9
Yellow Warbler
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  3
Seaside Sparrow  1     Heard
Song Sparrow  4
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  100
Common Grackle  1
Boat-tailed Grackle  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  1     Roof of visitor's center
Orchard Oriole  2     First year male entrance ponds, mature male Experimental Pool
House Finch  4
American Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  3

Friday, May 23, 2014

Double Trouble SP 5/23--Least Tern

It rained most of yesterday and was crappy this morning so I was restless and when the sun finally came out and seemed like it might stay bright for a while, I went over to Double Trouble to get another walk in for the day. I walked 4 miles this morning, strictly for exercise--the only birding I did was by ear, since I didn't even take my binoculars in the damp and drizzle.

I wasn't expecting to find much of anything today although I have found that often, late in the day the birding can be just as good as first thing in the morning. The birds get stirring again in the afternoon--some to find food, some to get ready to continue their migration at night.

I walked out to the lake and stood near the spillway. Usually I expect to find swallows there but my impression of the birds flying across the water was that they were too big for swallows, considering the distance--and when one plunge dived, I realized that they were Least Terns. While Least Terns are most often thought of as marsh birds, I can think of three places in Ocean County where I have seen them hunting fresh water lakes and ponds--Double Trouble, Horicon Lake, and the Lakehurst Naval Base.

I also caught sight of a shorebird flying low and fast across the water. Remembering the i.d. tip I got a few weeks ago from Mike Mandracchia, I saw that the bird barely lifted its wings above its body as it flew so I wasn't surprised when the bird that landed across the spillway was a Spotted Sandpiper. Then another flew in. Both bobbed their tails and bopped down the rocky incline to the creek.

I was also pleased to find that I remembered the song of the Black-throated Blue Warbler from my trip on Wednesday. I clearly heard one walking back from the lake. I probably saw a female for an instant back on the bogs, too. Little white dots on the wing were the field marks I noted. 3 Prairie Warblers were also around.

So, while I only expected to work off some excess energy, I managed 30 species in 2 hours and got an FOY. "You won't see nothing if you don't go out," is my motto.
Mallard  4
Great Egret  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Least Tern  2
Mourning Dove  2
Chimney Swift  2
Eastern Phoebe  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  5     Heard
Eastern Kingbird  3
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  2
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  6
Barn Swallow  3
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  4
Wood Thrush  2     Heard
American Robin  5
Gray Catbird  4
Ovenbird  10     Heard
Black-throated Blue Warbler  1     Heard
Pine Warbler  1
Prairie Warbler  3     Heard
Eastern Towhee  5     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Common Grackle  1

Juxtaposition: New Mexico

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Middlesex County 5/21--Black-billed Cuckoo, Veery, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Willow Flycatcher, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Mourning Warbler

I drove up to my old hometown today to go on a birding field trip led by Scott Barnes to a couple of parks in Woodbridge Township. Despite moving there when I was 14, I know very little about large swaths of the area. I moved out as soon as I could took no interest in the place while I was there. So William Warren Park on the border of Perth Amboy was a completely new place for me and I had to use the GPS as if I was in New Mexico. No idea where I was going until I got there.

Leaving myself plenty of time to get lost, I didn't, and arrived early. Quite a few birders I knew were going on the trip and we gathered in the parking lot, hearing a lot of birds, mostly Blackpoll Warblers. And hearing was the theme for the park, because we saw very few of the many warblers that Scott and the other, better ear birders, were picking out up in the leafy canopy. Just when I think I'm getting pretty good at ear birding, I come across a cacophony of bird song and I'm lucky if I can pick out Ovenbird (which I did).

Thrushes were in great supply in the park--I got my first Swainson's Thrushes, Veerys, and Gray-cheeked Thrush.  The first two I saw--the last I only heard, twice. Gray-cheeked Thrush has a distinctive enough call that I felt okay about counting it after Scott pointed it out. There were a few warblers I didn't count today, like Blackburnian, because though Scott would call out and identify the song, I didn't feel confident that if I heard it two minutes later I would know what it was. Consequently my list is a lot shorter than it could have been.

After 3 hours of walking around the woods, hemmed in by Routes 35, 9, and the Turnpike, we all drove 4 miles north to the Oros Preserve, territory more familiar to me. Oros Preserve is pin oak forest and a small swamp with many dead trees sticking up out of the water. The resident Red-headed Woodpeckers were nowhere to be found, but there were some marquee birds to be found. Flycatchers are coming back and it was here that I got my first Willow Flycatcher of the year--an empid identified best by it "song"--"Fitz-bew!"

On a narrow trail leading back from the edge of the water Patrick Belardo found a Black-billed Cuckoo, a fairly unusual bird for Middlesex County. It sang--but at first, since it was partially hidden in the tree (as cuckoos almost always are), it sounded like a Yellow-billed until it switched over to it's more coo-coo like song, so there was a moment of confusion as to which cuckoo we had. But the red-eye, the tail pattern, and the black bill made the identification simple.

The best was yet to come as we walked into the forest. Scott heard a Tennessee Warbler and after some intensive searching by a dozen pair of eyes, we finally were able to get a look at one singing: "ticka ticka ticka."  Tennessee Warbler is not much to look out--kind of bland--the Warbling Vireo of the warbler world, but it is rare this time of year so it was good to find. We actually heard a 2nd one singing. Then a few minutes later Scott snapped his fingers and said, "There--Mourning Warbler." Mourning Warbler is a always a much sought-after warbler in these parts, and while we only heard it sing (glimpsed it fly deeper into the tangles) it has such a distinctive song and we heard it for so long that I had no problem counting it. Both warblers were state birds for me, so I was pretty pleased.

By now it was 1 o'clock. My mother lives 15 minutes away from Oros. Every time I go there I say I wish I knew that it existed 3 years ago when I was staying in Iselin, taking care of my parents. It would have been a great stress reliever to go there.

My list for the two spots. I really upped my Middlesex County year and life lists today.
Species     First Sighting
Canada Goose     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Great Egret     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Green Heron     William Warren County Park
Black-billed Cuckoo     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Red-bellied Woodpecker     William Warren County Park
Northern Flicker     William Warren County Park
Eastern Wood-Pewee     William Warren County Park
Willow Flycatcher     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Eastern Phoebe     William Warren County Park
Great Crested Flycatcher     William Warren County Park
Eastern Kingbird     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Warbling Vireo     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Red-eyed Vireo     William Warren County Park
Blue Jay     William Warren County Park
Northern Rough-winged Swallow     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Tree Swallow     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Tufted Titmouse     William Warren County Park
Carolina Wren     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Veery     William Warren County Park
Gray-cheeked Thrush     William Warren County Park
Swainson's Thrush     William Warren County Park
American Robin     William Warren County Park
Gray Catbird     William Warren County Park
European Starling     William Warren County Park
Cedar Waxwing     William Warren County Park
Ovenbird     William Warren County Park
Northern Waterthrush     William Warren County Park
Black-and-white Warbler     William Warren County Park
Tennessee Warbler     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Mourning Warbler     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Common Yellowthroat     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
American Redstart     William Warren County Park
Northern Parula     William Warren County Park
Magnolia Warbler     William Warren County Park
Bay-breasted Warbler     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Yellow Warbler     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Chestnut-sided Warbler     William Warren County Park
Blackpoll Warbler     William Warren County Park
Black-throated Blue Warbler     William Warren County Park
Canada Warbler     William Warren County Park
Scarlet Tanager     William Warren County Park
Northern Cardinal     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Red-winged Blackbird     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Brown-headed Cowbird     William Warren County Park
Orchard Oriole     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve
Baltimore Oriole     Ernest L. Oros Wildlife Preserve

Island Beach SP 5/20--Black-crowned Night-Heron, Red-eyed Vireo, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-throated Blue, Canada Warblers

When I was at Brig on Sunday I bumped in my friend Karmela at the Gull Pond. She was with a group so we couldn't bird together that day, but we agreed to meet at Island Beach SP on Tuesday to see what we could find.

I met her at Reed's Road. Before she arrived I walked about a 1/3 of the way up the road and didn't find much. I know a great spot on the bay side, but I was afraid, judging from the inactivity on the road, that it was going to be a bust, as so often happens when you want to show someone a great place.

The spot we were going to was the place where Greg & I observed the fox cubs in their den. The den holes were still there, and still had the skunky aroma of fox wafting out of the them, but the foxes were long gone. And I was wrong about the spot being quiet. It was jumping with bird, warblers especially. There is a sandy hill to stand on surrounded by deciduous trees, so you don't have to get warbler neck looking at the birds as you are very often eye height with them. For me the highlight warblers were my FOY Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Black-throated Blue, and Canada Warblers. The first and last in the sequence were also county birds for me.

We stood around the area for well over an hour and a half--birds just kept appearing and every time we thought the activity had died down we'd find another goodie in a another tree. As we stood around I told Karmela about the first time I'd been in the spot with the guy who'd showed it to me (supposedly a big secret) and how that day, to top it all off, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak had shown up. No soon did I say than Karmela turned around to her left and said, "There's one." Then we saw another and another and another--2 males and 2 females. I promise to use this power only for good.

After we were finally able to tear ourselves away from the little grove, we drove south about 6 miles to Spizzle Creek. I figured I might as well bird it now, because pretty soon it the mosquitoes would make it impossible to walk there. They were already out, but a few spritzes of OFF! seemed to work.

We found a few egrets, herons, and ibises, and quite a few different shorebirds--none in great quantity, but enough to keep us interested. I had just mentioned that I still hadn't seen a Black-crowned Night-Heron this year, when I heard the unmistakable "kwok!" of one and we turned around to see it fly across the trail.

60 species (+1 other taxa)
Brant  21
Double-crested Cormorant  50
Great Blue Heron  10
Great Egret  10
Snowy Egret  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  3
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  10
American Oystercatcher  1
Black-bellied Plover  20
Greater Yellowlegs  6
Willet  5
Dunlin  4
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1
Short-billed Dowitcher  2
Laughing Gull  10
Herring Gull  26
Great Black-backed Gull  10
Forster's Tern  5
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  5
Eastern Kingbird  10
White-eyed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  19
Fish Crow  5
crow sp.  10
Barn Swallow  5
Carolina Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  1
Marsh Wren  2
Gray Catbird  50
Brown Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Ovenbird  1
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  30
American Redstart  5
Northern Parula  1
Magnolia Warbler  10
Bay-breasted Warbler  3
Yellow Warbler  8
Blackpoll Warbler  3
Black-throated Blue Warbler  1
Pine Warbler  1
Canada Warbler  1
Eastern Towhee  5
Field Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  2
Scarlet Tanager  1
Northern Cardinal  1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  4
Red-winged Blackbird  20
Common Grackle  3
Boat-tailed Grackle  3
American Goldfinch  1

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Colliers Mills WMA 5/19--Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Grasshopper Sparrow

Colliers Mills WMA--the power line cut is as green as suburban lawn after the prescribed burn in early spring.

I was moping around the trail on the way to the power line cut at Colliers Mills, not finding much of interest, thinking that at least I was getting in my exercise, when I started to flush birds--2 or 3 Great-crested Flycatchers. That seemed a tad unusual, those birds foraging low. While looking to relocate one of them, my binoculars fell upon a tree trunk at the far edge of the woods and a bird on that tree trunk which brightened up the day--a Red-headed Woodpecker. When it moved into a sunbeam on the tree it was like someone plugged it in to an electric outlet--it's red head glowed

After that, having one good bird on the list for the day, things loosened up a bit and I started to find more birds, including my FOY Grasshoppper Sparrow in a field north of the cut. While standing in the field, just looking around, I realized that among all the Gray Catbirds mimicking other birds I was hearing an Eastern Wood-Pewee's plaintive song. I walked backed into the woods and quickly found the bird. Would that I could have done that with the 2 cuckoos I heard. 

35 species
Canada Goose  30     Young were on bog beyond power cut
Turkey Vulture  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  2     Heard
Red-headed Woodpecker  1     
Red-bellied Woodpecker  
Downy Woodpecker  1     Near CM Lake
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  2
Great Crested Flycatcher  5
Eastern Kingbird  1
Blue Jay  1
Fish Crow  2     Heard
Tree Swallow  3
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  4
Eastern Bluebird  1
American Robin  5
Gray Catbird  26
Brown Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  2
European Starling  5
Ovenbird  1     Heard
Common Yellowthroat  7
Yellow Warbler
 3     Heard
Eastern Towhee  2     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  5
Grasshopper Sparrow  1
Blue Grosbeak  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  15
Common Grackle  4
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
Baltimore Oriole  2     One on Success Rd, the other on Hawkins Rd