Sunday, June 7, 2015

Old Mine Road 6/6--Cerulean Warbler

Buttermilk Falls, about 20 miles up
Old Mine Road
We made what has become our annual trip up to Old Mine Road to bird along with Mike & Pete on about 20 miles of road running along the Delaware River, looking mostly for warblers and flycatchers, of which there was no dearth.

It is a long ride up there, so to avoid arising at 4:30 in the morning we broke up the trip by staying in Bridgewater on Friday night, thanks to the hospitality of our friend Bob Auster, who, in addition, also knew the best way to get there.

It was a big group that assembled at the parking lot of the Kittatinny Visitor's Center at the Delaware Water Gap and the lot itself was jumping with birds, including Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Orioles, a couple of soaring Common Ravens and a Bald Eagle.

The real appeal of this area and the main reason I'd venture so far from home, is nesting warblers. The Old Mine Road IBA is the only place in NJ that Cerulean Warbler nests. Since their numbers have declined by 80% in recent years, if you want to see one, here's the place to go.

Unfortunately, they're hard to see, as are all the warblers. The heavy foliage that provides protection and food in the form of bugs, also shields them from view very effectively. Last year, Shari & I only got to hear a Cerulean. It counts but... it isn't like Warbling Vireo, which is such a nothing bird that if you don't see it, you don't care. Cerulean Warbler is a lovely little sky-blue bird. You really want to see it.

This year we got lucky. We heard one fairly early on into the trip and with all those eyes searching one of our group found it, high in a tree, another factor that makes finding these birds challenging. It was only a silhouette due to bad lighting, but we did see one. Another was found a little further up the road and much of the group reassembled there, but after a few minutes, with everyone shouting out contradictory directions, I gave up and went to look with Pete for a Blackburnian Warbler (which I never found). Meanwhile, Shari & Bob stuck with it and came back to the car gushing about how beautiful the warbler was. "It was so blue, it made me want to cry," declared Bob. They did their best, in the nicest possible way, to make me feel bad. They did an okay job.

However, at another stop up the road, about an hour later, we found three more Ceruleans, and this time I got gorgeous looks at two of them as they chased each other through bare branches. Both of my previous listings of Cerulean have been of the mediocre Better View Desired variety. This time, I got them. And next year, I'd like to see them again!

I have on my list, I think, 13 species of warbler. Less than half of them I saw. We heard, very clearly, a couple of  Worm-eating Warblers, but only a few of the group managed to find this ground hugging bird. Again, multiple contradictory and/or vague directions wore me out. There were Hooded Warblers in abundance; none were seen. At least I know what they sound like. We did get great looks at a Blue-winged Warbler, its little beak positively stuffed with insects. It must have had a nest nearby. There was a pair of Prairie Warblers in the same spot. Most of the group got more excited about them than I did. I see and hear them all the time around here. There were also a couple of brief sightings of Louisiana Waterthrush one of which I was able to see. The other, at Buttermilk Falls, in Sussex County (had to start a new county list) was a "heard only."

Flycatchers were a little sparse but we did have a very close, singing, Acadian Flycatcher at lunch, which all the group got to see, some walking up to view while munching on sandwiches. Other birds I liked getting on the NJ list were Pileated Woodpecker (great views as it hacked away at a stump) and Least Flycatcher (the 2nd bird on my Sussex County list).

In all we had 58 species, one more than we managed last year (the group as a whole had, I believe, 75).
Canada Goose  6
Mallard  1     river, parking area
Wild Turkey  1     Hen
Green Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  4
Bald Eagle  3
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Killdeer  2
Spotted Sandpiper  1     Heard, boat launch
Mourning Dove  3
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  2     Heard
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  1     Heard
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  5
Acadian Flycatcher  1
Least Flycatcher  1
Eastern Phoebe  2     Heard
Great Crested Flycatcher  6
Yellow-throated Vireo  5     Heard
Warbling Vireo  6     Heard
Red-eyed Vireo  5     Heard
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  1
Common Raven  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  2
Tree Swallow  1
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
Veery  4     Heard
Wood Thrush  5     Heard
American Robin  3
Gray Catbird  10
Cedar Waxwing  5
Ovenbird  30     Heard
Worm-eating Warbler  2     Heard
Louisiana Waterthrush  2
Blue-winged Warbler  1
Black-and-white Warbler  1     Heard
Common Yellowthroat  4     Heard
Hooded Warbler  8     Heard
American Redstart  5
Cerulean Warbler  4
Northern Parula  1     Heard
Yellow Warbler  6
Pine Warbler  1     Heard
Prairie Warbler  2
Eastern Towhee  4     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  3
Field Sparrow  1     Heard
Song Sparrow  2     Heard
Scarlet Tanager  2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Common Grackle  5
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
Baltimore Oriole  4

1 comment:

  1. You make me want to see a cerulean warbler!