Saturday, July 18, 2015

Waretown 7/18--Mississippi Kite

Back in early June, a Mississippi Kite (quite a rarity in NJ) was reported in Waretown, about 20 miles south of here. It was a flyover above someone's yard and my thought was, "That's pretty lucky," and I figured that was the end of it. But then she reported it again and again and within a few days it became obvious that this bird was staying somewhere nearby. After the Lakehurst trip Mike and I drove down there, hung around the quiet residential neighborhood with a woodlot in the middle of it for an hour or so, met a few other birders on the chase, and then moved on without finding the bird.

A few days later I was nearby and passed through the neighborhood again. I hate just looking for one bird. I don't have the sitzfleisch to wait for a bird to maybe show up. After what seemed like most of the day but was probably only a half hour, I gave up and went somewhere else that actually had birds.

Lately the bird has been reported almost daily and instead of flyovers, it was perching in a dead tree on the corner of Elizabeth and Walker. Now I was getting really twitchy. A county and state bird, 25 minutes away.

Yesterday, I was down at the Barnegat impoundments. I met Karmela, who lives across the street and she picked out one of my target birds, a couple of White-faced Ibises. The Waretown site is only about 15 minutes from Barnegat. She had seen and photographed the bird a few weeks ago from the backyard of the woman who originally reported the bird. It seemed to me that the bird was being seen mid-afternoon, but she thought it didn't think the bird was time-sensitive, so mid-morning I found myself up there for the 3rd time, staring a dead tree.

Broad-winged Hawk
And damn if a hawk didn't land on the bare branches! And damn if it wasn't a Broad-winged Hawk and not the bird I wanted. Now, any other time, I'd be thrilled to see a Broad-wing Hawk, especially a stationary bird. But yesterday it was just a junk bird to me. This is how warped one can get when one is chasing.

I left after 1 hour and 15 minutes. Of course, mid-afternoon, the time I thought more propitious for finding the bird, it showed up to the delight of those supplicants beneath the tree. Including Karmela. Much grinding and gnashing of teeth occurred in Whiting, NJ.

Today, during the Brig trip, there were a number of birders who wanted the bird, one of whom, like me, had already made multiple, futile visits. So after the 2nd loop we all decided to head up to Waretown, only about a hour north. We all arrived around 2:45, which seemed like a likely time to find the bird, and met a few people standing at the magic spot and heard the dreaded words, "Oooh, you just missed it." By 20 minutes or so. "But it'll come back," was the group mantra.

5 minutes later, Scott pointed up and there, finally, soaring overhead, was a small falcon-like bird with pointy wings against the blue sky. Laughing Gulls caused some interference in viewing, but we all got good looks at the silhouetted bird. I saw it better than I see most hawks. But it didn't land in the tree.

We all waited for about another 40 minutes. By then, even though I knew, just knew the bird would eventually come to perch in the tree, I left with most of the others. The stalwarts were rewarded. Almost as soon as I got home the phone rang and Dave told me the bird was in the tree. I wasn't about to turn around.

The real question regards whether the birds (didn't I mention that there are two?) are nesting in the area. No one has reported seeing them carrying sticks or nesting material, no one has seen them copulating, no one has seen them carrying food. The wood lot seems like it would have good nesting sites. But who knows if they're just inspecting the area, or if one doesn't know how to mate, or even if they of different genders. But, if in a couple of weeks someone reports a striped hawk in that dead tree, we'll know that NJ has its first successful nesting couple of this southern species.


  1. Here's the answer to the question I just assked in your newer post. BTW, the sandhill cranes here are teaching their chick how to fly. First year with a baby!

    1. Ooops pardon the obscene typo. Could you edit and kill this?