Friday, May 2, 2014

Whitesbog 5/2: Eastern Kingbird, House Wren, Northern Parula, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
It looks like migration is starting to "stick." Last night we had another rainstorm; it must have come up from the south because there was an explosion of species that were scarce or absent yesterday--particularly catbirds and yellowthroats--as I walked around Whitesbog this morning.

When I go to Whitesbog, nowadays, I think of it as two walks. From the village out to what is called the "double-diked road" is the first part of the walk and lies in Burlington County. Here, in winter, in the first two bogs and in Union Pond, is where you'll find most of your waterfowl. In spring and summer, the waterfowl are gone and instead you focus on the trees and underbrush along the road, and the small open areas around the village. I was mostly hearing birds in this section today, though I did spot a White-eyed Vireo and an Eastern Bluebird greeted me in the parking lot. When you reach the double-diked road (two roads with a small channel between them) you cross over into Ocean County. Since I'm a county lister, I always make note of my crossover and begin keeping a new list. Most of Whitesbog is actually in Ocean County, so I think on eBird, many birds have been misappropriated to Burlington County. We here in Ocean County want our fair share.

Today, all my year birds were found in Ocean County, starting with Eastern Kingbirds, which I was afraid were going to be a nemesis bird this year. Happily, no--I saw a few in just the place I expected them to be. It always amuses me that from a distance, because of their posture and overall shape, kingbirds can fool me into thinking they're swallows, which are much small birds. They almost got me again this morning, but that flash of white at the base of the tail rang the bell in time.

Misidentifying birds was a sort of them today. Looking into a tree at what I thought at first might be another kingbird, I instead thought to myself that it was a weird looking towhee. After 2 seconds of thought I realized I wrong and that I had, instead, my first Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the year. This is a very hard bird to find in southern NJ, at least for me.  I was astonished that it sat still for so long, allowing me to pull out the little point & shoot camera I carry and get these photos, even if they are a little blurry from blowing them up.

Almost immediately after losing sight of the grosbeak, a bird was chattering and flew past me into a low bush. Black & red--I thought, that is a strange looking blackbird. Well, at least I was in the right family (Icteridae) this time--it was my FOY Orchard Oriole.

Later, at the west of Big Tank I heard another vireo and thought I saw it in a tree but what I was looking at was a warbler. Strange warbler in the glare of the sunlight. Maybe a Pine Warbler, but nothing was right for Pine Warbler, including size (too small). Then, click--yellowish breast with a little rufous on the flanks--Northern Parula.

The only year bird I didn't at first misidentify was because I was standing around with two other birder friends way back in the bogs and Len pointed out a House Wren singing, which then made its appearance. Otherwise, who knows what I would have thought it was at first.

Here's one unusual sight for the day:
Two Brown Thrashers. What's unusual about Brown Thrashers? Nothing, in itself, but I have never, that I can recall, seen two thrashers at the same time. Obviously, they must associate, or there wouldn't be thrashers, but this is the first time I've seen it.

For the day I had 40 species, walking around 4 miles. My bifurcated lists:
26 species
Canada Goose  9
Mallard  5
Turkey Vulture  4
Greater Yellowlegs  1    Heard
Eastern Phoebe  1
White-eyed Vireo  2
Fish Crow  3
Tree Swallow  10
Carolina Wren  1    Heard, village
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3
Eastern Bluebird  1    village parking lot
American Robin  1    heard
Gray Catbird  3
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  3
Ovenbird  3    Heard
Black-and-white Warbler  3    Heard
Common Yellowthroat  3    Heard
Pine Warbler  1
Prairie Warbler  1    Heard
Eastern Towhee  1    Heard
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  1    Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Common Grackle  2
Whitesbog Ocean County portion
28 species
Mallard  4
Turkey Vulture  2
Mourning Dove  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Northern Flicker  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1    Heard
Eastern Kingbird  4
White-eyed Vireo  1    Heard, west end of Big Tank
Purple Martin  2
Tree Swallow  10
House Wren  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2    Heard
Gray Catbird  10
Brown Thrasher  2
Ovenbird  3    Heard
Black-and-white Warbler  5    Heard
Common Yellowthroat  15    Lending credence to the designation "common."
Northern Parula  1    West end of Big Tank
Yellow Warbler  2
Palm Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  3
Prairie Warbler  5
Eastern Towhee  1    Heard
Chipping Sparrow  2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1    Between double-diked road and next bog
Red-winged Blackbird  15
Common Grackle  5
Orchard Oriole  1    Between double-diked road and next bog

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