Saturday, June 21, 2014

Old Mine Road 6/21--Least Flycatcher, Cerulean Warbler

Warren County, looking east. (above)
Buttermilk Falls. (below)

Photos: Shari Zirlin

We were up early this morning--way before dawn, so we could meet our friend Mike at his house in Jackson. Mike, who was co-leading the Audubon trip to Old Mine, volunteered to drive us up there. We've always wanted to go on one of these trips, but the long drive put us off, so we jumped at the chance. 

Old Mine Road is up in northwest NJ, at the Delaware Water Gap. It is very different habitat--deciduous forest--from what we are used to birding around here. It is a great warbler spot, well after most of the warblers have passed through. This is where they go. 

We picked up Pete at the Cheesequake rest stop and continued on up north, passing through the quaint little town of Buttzville. 

It was a good group of birders, all fairly experienced, and of course, Pete and Mike do yeoman work getting people on birds. 

After stopping at New Jersey's longest stop light (really, it is about 3 minutes long to allow traffic to pass through the one lane section of the road) we started our drive. Almost immediately we were hearing lots of birds, the most interesting being a Worm-eating Warbler's dry buzzy song. About 1/2 the group got on it, the other half, in which I was, didn't. At the same spot, though, we got field guide looks at a Hooded Warbler, always a favorite around here. The same spot also offered up great looks at a Louisiana Waterthrush in the middle of the road. Very odd to see one so far away from water. 

The main bird Shari & I were interested in seeing was Cerulean Warbler. Their population over the last 50 years or so is down around 80%, due to clear cutting of the high trees they must have in order to nest. That area in norther NJ is protected habitat so they do nest up there--not in great numbers, perhaps 35 or so pairs, but at least they're there. Unfortunately, we never got a look at the warbler. Pete kept hearing them. I didn't hear what Pete was hearing until the very end of the trip as we were heading back to the starting point I heard a buzzy trill through the car window and Pete said, "You know what that was? Cerulean Warbler." So we had the bird. Not a very satisfactory record, but it counts. 

The other year bird today was a little better. At lunch we heard very clearly the "ch-bek" of a Least Flycatcher, and, after staring into the woods for an inordinate amount of time, I finally found one high up in the branches of relatively bare tree. 

Other notable sightings today were:
Three Bald Eagles in one binocular view, one adult and two sub-adults, with one juvenile and the adult engaging in flight, the adult flipping upside down, talons out;
A Green Heron along some mudflats;
And our only two shorebirds of the trip in the same spot at the heron--Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper;
Three Yellow-throated Vireos--ironic in that I saw my first NJ one only a couple of days ago--when it rains, etc.

Old Mine Road is a gorgeous spot (see photos) and we'd like to go back up there on our own, now that we know a little of how the area is organized. We'll probably have to make it an overnighter, though, because that's a lot of driving in our little state. 

A "Heinz" day--57 varieties:
Canada Goose  15
Great Blue Heron  1
Green Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  12
Bald Eagle  3     
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Mourning Dove  4
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1     Heard
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard
Northern Flicker  1     Heard
Eastern Wood-Pewee  5     Heard
Acadian Flycatcher  1     Heard
Least Flycatcher  2
Eastern Phoebe  5
Great Crested Flycatcher  3
Yellow-throated Vireo  3     Heard 3, saw a brief glimpse of one
Warbling Vireo  1     Heard
Red-eyed Vireo  10
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  1     Heard
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  1
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
White-breasted Nuthatch  2     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Veery  10     Heard
Wood Thrush  5     Heard
American Robin  4
Gray Catbird  15
Cedar Waxwing  5
Ovenbird  10     Heard
Worm-eating Warbler  1     Heard
Louisiana Waterthrush  3
Common Yellowthroat  10     Heard
Hooded Warbler  2
American Redstart  5
Cerulean Warbler  1     Heard
Northern Parula  2     Heard
Yellow Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  2
Prairie Warbler  1     Heard
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  5
Field Sparrow  2     Heard
Song Sparrow  4
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard
Indigo Bunting  4     singing
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Common Grackle  10
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Baltimore Oriole  1
American Goldfinch  1     Coming over river at visitor's ctr

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