Thursday, May 7, 2015

Bridge to Nowhere 5/7--Red-eyed Vireo

Bridge to Nowhere--Coming
I left the house this morning humming "I got no expectations." My first stop was the abandoned railroad tracks in Lakehurst, a spot I've known about for a while but never visited. It is fairly well-known in butterfly circles, according to my brother, but not only a few cognoscenti in Ocean County bird there. I went because a rarity had been reported two or three days in a row and I felt I had to give it a shot, even though there were other places I wanted to bird.

I arrived in downtown Lakehurst about a quarter to 7, parked in the municipal lot and started walking the tracks. After about 1000 feet I came to a bridge over a creek that look precarious--the railroad ties had nothing but air between them--and I stood there a while, pishing half-heartedly, then continued walking the corridor formed by trees, brush and wetlands. I did see a couple of Wood Thrushes and the usual warblers, but nothing I couldn't see anywhere else in the county. I gave myself about an hour at the tracks. On the way back to the car I was standing again on the bridge, saw some movement below me and there, in bright sunlight, was a beautiful Prothonotary Warbler. Not an FOY bird (I saw one last month at Belleplain) but definitely a great county bird. I know there's a school of thought that says "act like the bird is there" to find a rarity--in other words, actively look, but I've always had more luck being pessimistic.
Lakehurst Railroad Tracks
28 species
Chimney Swift  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  3
Carolina Chickadee  2     Heard
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  5
Wood Thrush  2
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  15
Ovenbird  2
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Prothonotary Warbler  1     
Common Yellowthroat  3
Northern Parula  1
Prairie Warbler  1     Heard
Eastern Towhee  5
Chipping Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1     Heard
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
House Finch  1     Heard, parking lot
American Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  2

The day was already a success, so I felt I could afford to investigate a new spot (to me) that a friend had mentioned and drove down to Waretown Lake. It has potential, but I didn't find anything new though I had a couple of amusing sights: a Double-crested Cormorant sitting on the raft in the middle of the lake and an Osprey diving into the lake and pulling out a surprisingly large fish.

My next stop was Forsythe--Barnegat. I wasn't satisfied with how I birded it on Monday, so I wanted to do a more thorough job today and I feel like I saw most of what could be seen today and was particularly happy to refind the White-faced Ibis in a corner of the marsh. I had run into a birder I know and he actually asked if that ibis was a candidate. I put the scope on it and yup--cherry red legs, pink skin, white surround--that was it. And it was life bird for him so I made sure he got good looks in the scope.
Edwin B. Forsythe NWR--Barnegat
Platform, cut at bend of Bayshore, cut near municipal beach.
29 species
Canada Goose  2
Mute Swan  10
American Black Duck  20
Mallard  10
Great Egret  5
Snowy Egret  3
Glossy Ibis  7
White-faced Ibis  1     
Greater Yellowlegs  20
Lesser Yellowlegs
Dunlin  1
Least Sandpiper  10
Short-billed Dowitcher  15
Laughing Gull  4
Herring Gull  5
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Forster's Tern  2
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard, platform
Fish Crow  1
Purple Martin  5
Tree Swallow  6
Barn Swallow  1
Gray Catbird  5
European Starling  1
Common Yellowthroat  5
Yellow Warbler
 1     Platform
Song Sparrow  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  15
Common Grackle  5

The last stop was down at the Bridge to Nowhere to scout out the road and marshes for anything new or rare. I didn't come up with much except for a Red-eyed Vireo declaring loudly and repeatedly "Where are you...Here I am." I couldn't find the bird, unfortunately but I have it "by ear" for now.
Bridge to Nowhere
29 species
Canada Goose  1
Mute Swan  5     nesting, unfortunately.
Gadwall  2
Mallard  2
Great Egret  1
Snowy Egret  4
Tricolored Heron  1
Glossy Ibis  49
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  1     Heard
Least Sandpiper  26
Laughing Gull  4
Herring Gull  5
Forster's Tern  2
Red-eyed Vireo  1     Heard, along Stafford Avenue
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3
Wood Thrush  1     Heard along Stafford Avenue
Gray Catbird  10
Ovenbird  2
Common Yellowthroat  10
Yellow Warbler
Song Sparrow  1     Heard
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Common Grackle  1

Then I came home and looked at all the eBird reports for the day and just laughed. If you take a "bird's eye view" of the reports you see 10 or 12 crazy people (& I'm one of them) scurrying around the county, chasing after each other's reports. That Green Heron I saw yesterday in Pine Park? Someone needed Green Heron and was at Pine Park this morning, while I was chasing his Prothonotary Warbler. If I ever get a smart phone so that I can get eBird alerts "in the field" it will be the death of me.

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