Saturday, May 3, 2014

Whitesbog 5/3--Green Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Northern Waterthrush

Green Heron, Whitesbog (Ocean County)
I ran into Ocean County (actually stepped 100 paces very quickly) to put a bird on my county list. I was walking along the double-diked road at Whitesbog, which happens to be just about the border between Ocean & Burlington Counties, when I heard a loud "SKEOW!" behind me. I turned and saw a Green Heron fly into a tree (possibly another flew farther along). It was comfortably within the borders of Ocean County, but I wasn't, so moved quickly to the end of the road, made a quick left and after about 10 more steps, I took the picture to the left. Not art, just documentation. The silhouette of Green Heron is distinctive.

I was walking along the road because my friend Len had told me that he'd scared up about 6 Spotted Sandpipers driving by in his truck. Spotted Sandpipers do nest at Whitesbog, on the long sandy piles at the margins of some of the bogs. I went looking and finally, at the third bog edge I looked into found one bird bobbing it's tail. Not 6, but I only "need" one.
Road not to drive on at Whitesbog.
It was around here that I found the Spotted Sandpiper.
Speaking of bobbing its tail, the 3rd new bird of the day did exactly that--Northern Waterthrush, which flew out of a bog and into a tree, teetering on a branch. Buffy breast and flanks, fine streaks on throat, relatively thin "eyebrow," dull-colored legs--having just seen it's Louisiana cousin, the differences were fresh in my mind.

When I met Len, I was coming out of the woods after an unsuccessful attempt at finding the way to Otter Pond. Len had given me directions the other day, but both roads I tried had long stretches that were under water. I walked through or around a few medium sized puddles, but when the water stretched for a couple of hundred feet with no way to walk around them, I gave up. Len told me another way to get there. It isn't that I think Otter Pond must have all the great birds around it; it is just a goal so that I can learn my way around Whitesbog, which, the more I walk around it, the more it seems to grow.
My rudimentary map of Whitesbog.
County line is to the left of "115E"
So Len explained another way of getting there. I'm pretty hopeless with directions unless you tell me to "Make a left on 4th Street, walk two blocks...," etc. I have a map of Whitesbog, but as you can see, Hagstrom's it's not.

But I was in the mood to explore. Basically, if I found water I didn't know about, I'd be happy. After walking past places I'd been I came to a sluice way with a boardwalk across it that looked precarious but was actually very stable. The most unusual bird I found back here was a Northern Rough-winged Swallow in among the Tree Swallows.

I've noticed on many fast-moving streams around here a white foam that floats atop and the water and clings to the shoreline. Here it was building up in a great pile against the walkway.
What is this stuff? I'd like to believe that it is the effuvia of benign one-celled animals that live in our clear cedar streams and not New & Improved Tide.

I crossed the boardwalk. I thought I was pretty deep in the woods, but I wasn't deep enough not to come across the remains of a small campfire with the requisite crushed beer cans and empty cigarette lighter. I picked up the crap and threw it in my backpack.

As far as I got today
I kept walking north, to the sound of gunfire at Fort Dix. I didn't want to  stumble onto the base or the firing range. Finally, I saw a clearing in the woods and beyond it a large pond. I doubt this was Otter Pond (next time I see Len, I'll know better where I was) but it was far enough for me. In a small pond separated by an earth work, I scared up two Wood DucksPine Warblers were extremely active in this section, as were Prairie Warblers.

I turned around at this point and walked back until I got to more familiar territory and walked out to the Upper Reservoir, adding a couple of the more common warblers for the day list.

For the day I had 38 species, splitting up the territory between Ocean and Burlington Counties.
Whitesbog
27 species
Canada Goose  6
Mallard  10
Turkey Vulture  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Mourning Dove  1
White-eyed Vireo  2
Fish Crow  2
Tree Swallow  2
Tufted Titmouse  4
Carolina Wren  1    Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3
Eastern Bluebird  1
American Robin  1
Gray Catbird  10
European Starling  1
Ovenbird  3    Heard
Black-and-white Warbler  3    Heard
Common Yellowthroat  10
Pine Warbler  1
Prairie Warbler  2    Heard
Eastern Towhee  5
Chipping Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  6
Red-winged Blackbird  20
Common Grackle  4
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
Whitesbog (Ocean County)
27 species
Wood Duck  2    
Mallard  10
Green Heron  1
Mourning Dove  4
Northern Flicker  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1    Heard
Eastern Kingbird  8
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Tree Swallow  20
Carolina Chickadee  1    Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  6
Gray Catbird  30
Brown Thrasher  1
Ovenbird  3    Heard
Northern Waterthrush  1
Black-and-white Warbler  2    Heard
Common Yellowthroat  30
Yellow Warbler 
1    Singing at dogleg
Pine Warbler  6
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1    Across from Big Tank
Prairie Warbler  5
Eastern Towhee  10
Chipping Sparrow  1    Heard
Song Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  7
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Common Grackle  10

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