Friday, April 17, 2015

Cape May County 4/16--House Wren, Brown Thrasher, Ovenbird, Yellow-throated Warbler

Mike Mandracchia and I did a sweep around southern NJ yesterday, starting at Belleplain SF and ending up at Brig. We were looking for new year birds and we both did pretty well. We tallied 84 & 82 species respectively (I missed the Red-tailed Hawk that flew across the road at Belleplain and according to my "rules" I can't count the Clapper Rail at Heislerville because I only heard it, barely, once). That total is pretty amazing considering the birds we didn't get like Great Blue Heron, Eastern Phoebe and even Rock Pigeon. How can you miss a pigeon driving around Cape May?

It is apparently  just a bit too early at Belleplain, which is the go to spot for warblers in spring migration. We ear-birded most of the way and while ear-birding is an important skill to develop, as I told Mike, it is essentially unsatisfying to me. Hearing a bird isn't the same as seeing it. Using your ear as a tool that alerts you to the presence of birds so that you can find them and see them is great. Just hearing a Yellow-throated Warbler, as we did, does not make me especially happy. Particularly when, just down the road from where we were searching, a friend of ours was trying to signal that his group had one in plain sight. But I am glad to have heard the song. Maybe that knowledge will help me spot this little stunner next week when we go on Mike's trip to there.

(In the "wherever I am is not the place I should be category" I found out later in the day that my friends Greg and Karmela had seen 13--count 'em 13--YTWA at Estell Manor Park)

We also heard my first Ovenbird for the year. I hear Ovenbirds all the time behind the house and I know I'll see them multiple times this year so that doesn't bother me at all. Same goes for the House Wren we heard in Villas. Those birds will be scolding me in the WMA and taking over the bluebird house we put up in the catch basin across the path soon enough

Once we saw that the forest wasn't producing we headed over to Heislerville on the Delaware Bay, but that's another county for another post.

Working our way south we stopped in Villas and picked up some shorebirds like Black-bellied Plover and Sanderling, but hearing the House Wren singing in some brush by the roadside was the highlight there.

Then Mike showed me a place I'd never been to before--Cox Hall Creek WMA which is a former golf course that has been allowed to have nature reclaim it. Good, because golf courses are usually deserts as far as birds are concerned. There was a good mix of passerines as we walked the asphalt trails, which I assume were once heavily trafficked with golf carts, but nothing new for the year except for the Brown Thrasher that flashed across the path.

From there we crossed the Cape May Canal onto the fabled Cape Island where we found little to keep us interested though AmericanWigeon, Red-throated Loon, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow were good additions to the day list. By then it was fairly late in the afternoon and we wanted to make a spin around Brig so we headed north.

57 species in the county.
Species                First Sighting
Canada Goose     Cape May Point SP
Mute Swan     Cape May Point SP
Gadwall     Cape May Point SP
American Wigeon     Cape May Point SP
Mallard     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Red-breasted Merganser     Norbury's Landing
Wild Turkey     Belleplain State Forest
Red-throated Loon     Sunset Beach/Concrete Ship
Northern Gannet     Norbury's Landing
Double-crested Cormorant     Sunset Beach/Concrete Ship
Great Egret     Cape May Point SP
Snowy Egret     Norbury's Landing
Black Vulture     Cape May Canal
Turkey Vulture     Belleplain State Forest
Bald Eagle     Norbury's Landing
Black-bellied Plover     Norbury's Landing
Greater Yellowlegs     Norbury's Landing
Sanderling     Norbury's Landing
Dunlin     Norbury's Landing
Bonaparte's Gull     Norbury's Landing
Laughing Gull     Norbury's Landing
Herring Gull     Norbury's Landing
Forster's Tern     Cape May Point SP
Mourning Dove     Belleplain State Forest
Red-bellied Woodpecker     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Downy Woodpecker     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Northern Flicker     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Blue Jay     Belleplain State Forest
American Crow     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Fish Crow     Norbury's Landing
Northern Rough-winged Swallow     Cape May Point SP
Purple Martin     Cape May Point SP
Tree Swallow     Norbury's Landing
Carolina Chickadee     Belleplain State Forest
Tufted Titmouse     Belleplain State Forest
White-breasted Nuthatch     Belleplain State Forest
House Wren     Norbury's Landing
Carolina Wren     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     Belleplain State Forest
American Robin     Belleplain State Forest
Brown Thrasher     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Northern Mockingbird     Norbury's Landing
European Starling     Cape May Point SP
Ovenbird     Belleplain State Forest
Pine Warbler     Belleplain State Forest
Yellow-throated Warbler     Belleplain State Forest
Eastern Towhee     Belleplain State Forest
Chipping Sparrow     Belleplain State Forest
Field Sparrow     Cox Hall Creek WMA
White-throated Sparrow     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Northern Cardinal     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Red-winged Blackbird     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Common Grackle     Cox Hall Creek WMA
Boat-tailed Grackle     Cape May Point SP
Brown-headed Cowbird     Belleplain State Forest
American Goldfinch     Belleplain State Forest
House Sparrow     Cox Hall Creek WMA

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