Friday, April 17, 2015

Heislerville WMA 4/16--Prairie Warbler

Bonaparte's Gull
Photos: Mike Mandracchia
After a stop at East Point Lighthouse on the Delaware Bayshore, where we found an impressive flock of Bonaparte's Gull sitting on pilings, some in full breeding plumage, some just getting started, we drove around the impoundments of Heislerville WMA. This was only my 3rd trip to the area (I'll make another next week after Belleplain) so I don't know the local nicknames for the various pools. We went in "the back way" according to Mike. After a bit of driving I recognized the dike we were on. There were still good numbers of ducks in the water, mostly shovelers and Green-winged Teal; in the back of the first big pool that we came to, Mike got his FOY Glossy Ibis.

Our dream was to find a Curlew Sandpiper (if they're going show in NJ, Heislerville seems to be the place they're going to choose.) Of course we didn't. However, in a cedar along the road we saw a warbler pumping its tail. Our first reaction was Palm due to the behavior, but when I saw the heavy stripes on the flanks and the semi-circle below the eye, I knew we had our first Prairie Warbler which really wasn't on the radar for us there on the dikes. Seems to me to be more of a forest bird. It wasn't singing. Prairie Warbler's song, a rising buzzy trill, is one of the more distinctive warbler songs (or maybe I just happen to have memorized it) and is another one that I'll be hearing very soon. Now that I've seen it, I won't have to knock myself out looking for it.

There were, naturally, a good number of gulls around, all in different cycles. I don't spend a lot of time looking at immature gulls and if I want to pick out a Ring-billed Gull I go by size if I can't see the bill. Mike gave me a quick lesson on picking out immature Ring-bills. Mike's a good teacher, but the main lesson here for me was "look at the gulls." This lesson would become relevant later in the day.

31 species
Canada Goose  6
Mute Swan  3
Gadwall  1
American Black Duck  1
Mallard  2
Blue-winged Teal  2
Northern Shoveler  25
Green-winged Teal  105
Double-crested Cormorant  65
Great Egret  30
Snowy Egret  10
Glossy Ibis  20
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  2
Greater Yellowlegs  35
Willet  2

Willet (Eastern)

Lesser Yellowlegs  35
Dunlin  150
Laughing Gull  3
Ring-billed Gull  3
Herring Gull  5
Great Black-backed Gull  5
Forster's Tern  8
Northern Flicker  1     Heard
Fish Crow  1
Tree Swallow  2
Northern Mockingbird  1     Heard
Prairie Warbler  1
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  1

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