Monday, August 31, 2015

August Wrap-up

Egrets at the Barnegat impoundment
The month began with our last day in Nevada & Utah and at the end of it we were in Delaware. In between, the big story was fall migration and grasspipers. All of my year birds this month were shorebirds. Of course, the excitement of the month took place at Whitesbog when two species of phalaropes showed up in the draining bogs, though that had its downside in attracting hordes of birders who don't normally go there. Whitesbog's roads are not designed for crowds.  

My last stop of the month today was Bunker Hill Bogs. I was thinking that perhaps there might be some evidence of fall migration for warblers and I was right. I found a Northern Waterthrush and a couple of American Redstarts along with my first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the season. Those 3 species brought my month's total up to 165. 
                                         Northern Waterthrush>                                                                                                                                
Counties birded                        
Delaware: Kent, Sussex
Nevada: Elko
New Jersey: Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean
Utah: Salt Lake
Species                 First Sighting
Canada Goose     West Wendover WTP
Mute Swan     Brig
Tundra Swan     Bombay Hook
Wood Duck     Whitesbog
Gadwall     Prime Hook NWR
American Black Duck     Whitesbog
Mallard     West Wendover WTP
Blue-winged Teal     Brig
Northern Pintail     Cape May Point SP
Ruddy Duck     West Wendover WTP
Wild Turkey     35 Sunset Rd
Pied-billed Grebe     West Wendover WTP
Double-crested Cormorant     West Wendover WTP
Brown Pelican     Great Bay Blvd
Great Blue Heron     Whitesbog
Great Egret     Whitesbog
Snowy Egret     Cattus Island County Park
Little Blue Heron     Brig
Tricolored Heron     Forsythe-Barnegat
Green Heron     Whitesbog
Black-crowned Night-Heron     West Wendover WTP
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron     Brig
Glossy Ibis     Whitesbog
White-faced Ibis     West Wendover WTP
Black Vulture     Bombay Hook
Turkey Vulture     Angel Creek Campground
Osprey     Cattus Island County Park
Golden Eagle     Angel Lake Campground
Northern Harrier     Angel Creek Campground
Sharp-shinned Hawk     Angel Creek Campground
Cooper's Hawk     Brig
Bald Eagle     Brig
Red-shouldered Hawk     Bombay Hook
Broad-winged Hawk     Whitesbog
Red-tailed Hawk     Angel Creek Campground
Clapper Rail     Brig
American Coot     West Wendover WTP
Black-necked Stilt     West Wendover WTP
American Avocet     West Wendover WTP
American Oystercatcher     Brig
Black-bellied Plover     Brig
American Golden-Plover     Bombay Hook
Semipalmated Plover     Whitesbog
Piping Plover     Great Sedge Island
Killdeer     Whitesbog
Spotted Sandpiper     Whitesbog
Solitary Sandpiper     Whitesbog
Greater Yellowlegs     Whitesbog
Willet     Brig
Lesser Yellowlegs     Whitesbog
Whimbrel     Brig
Marbled Godwit     Great Sedge Island
Ruddy Turnstone     Brig
Red Knot     Brig
Stilt Sandpiper     Brig
Sanderling     Great Sedge Island
Baird's Sandpiper     Gordon Road Reed's Sod Farm
Least Sandpiper     Whitesbog
White-rumped Sandpiper     Brig
Buff-breasted Sandpiper     Gordon Road Reed's Sod Farm
Pectoral Sandpiper     Whitesbog
Semipalmated Sandpiper     Whitesbog
Western Sandpiper     Brig
Short-billed Dowitcher     Brig
Long-billed Dowitcher     Brig
Wilson's Phalarope     West Wendover WTP
Red-necked Phalarope     Whitesbog
Laughing Gull     Cattus Island County Park
Franklin's Gull     I-80 UT
Ring-billed Gull     Cattus Island County Park
California Gull     I-80 UT
Herring Gull     Colliers Mills WMA
Great Black-backed Gull     Brig
Least Tern     Brig
Gull-billed Tern     Whitesbog
Caspian Tern     Brig
Common Tern     Brig
Forster's Tern     Brig
Royal Tern     Brig
Black Skimmer     Brig
Rock Pigeon     Cape May Point SP
Mourning Dove     Angel Creek Campground
Black-billed Cuckoo     Union Transportation Trail
Common Nighthawk     Angel Creek Campground
Eastern Whip-poor-will     35 Sunset Rd
Chimney Swift     Brig
Ruby-throated Hummingbird     35 Sunset Rd
Belted Kingfisher     Cattus Island County Park
Lewis's Woodpecker     Angel Creek Campground
Red-headed Woodpecker     New Lisbon
Red-bellied Woodpecker     Colliers Mills WMA
Downy Woodpecker     Angel Creek Campground
Hairy Woodpecker     Wells Mills Park
Northern Flicker     Angel Creek Campground
American Kestrel     Angel Creek Campground
Peregrine Falcon     Brig
Western Wood-Pewee     Angel Creek Campground
Eastern Wood-Pewee     Whitesbog
Willow Flycatcher     Colliers Mills WMA
Dusky Flycatcher     Angel Lake Campground
Eastern Phoebe     Colliers Mills WMA
Great Crested Flycatcher     Colliers Mills WMA
Eastern Kingbird     Whitesbog
White-eyed Vireo     Colliers Mills WMA
Red-eyed Vireo     Eno’s Pond
Blue Jay     35 Sunset Rd
Black-billed Magpie     Angel Creek Campground
Clark's Nutcracker     Angel Creek Campground
American Crow     35 Sunset Rd
Fish Crow     35 Sunset Rd
Common Raven     Angel Creek Campground
Horned Lark     Gordon Road Reed's Sod Farm
Northern Rough-winged Swallow     Whitesbog
Purple Martin     Whitesbog
Tree Swallow     Whitesbog
Violet-green Swallow     Angel Lake Campground
Bank Swallow     Whitesbog
Barn Swallow     Colliers Mills WMA
Carolina Chickadee     35 Sunset Rd
Tufted Titmouse     Colliers Mills WMA
White-breasted Nuthatch     35 Sunset Rd
House Wren     Angel Lake Campground
Carolina Wren     Colliers Mills WMA
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     Angel Creek Campground
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     Bunker Hill Bogs
Eastern Bluebird     Whitesbog
Swainson's Thrush     Angel Lake Campground
Wood Thrush     Colliers Mills WMA
American Robin     Angel Lake Campground
Gray Catbird     Whitesbog
Northern Mockingbird     Toms River
European Starling     Colliers Mills WMA
Cedar Waxwing     Colliers Mills WMA
Northern Waterthrush     Bunker Hill Bogs
Black-and-white Warbler     Eno’s Pond
Common Yellowthroat     Angel Lake Campground
American Redstart     Bunker Hill Bogs
Yellow Warbler     Angel Creek Campground
Pine Warbler     Whitesbog
Yellow-rumped Warbler     Angel Lake Campground
Prairie Warbler     Whitesbog
Seaside Sparrow     Cattus Island County Park
Chipping Sparrow     35 Sunset Rd
Field Sparrow     Brig
Brewer's Sparrow     Angel Lake Campground
White-crowned Sparrow     Angel Lake Campground
Vesper Sparrow     Angel Creek Campground
Song Sparrow     Whitesbog
Swamp Sparrow     Whitesbog
Spotted Towhee     Angel Creek Campground
Eastern Towhee     Whitesbog
Scarlet Tanager     Colliers Mills WMA
Western Tanager     Angel Creek Campground
Northern Cardinal     35 Sunset Rd
Black-headed Grosbeak     Angel Lake Campground
Blue Grosbeak     Brig
Lazuli Bunting     Angel Creek Campground
Indigo Bunting     Colliers Mills WMA
Red-winged Blackbird     Whitesbog
Common Grackle     Whitesbog
Boat-tailed Grackle     Brig
Brown-headed Cowbird     Colliers Mills WMA
Orchard Oriole     Colliers Mills WMA
Baltimore Oriole     FREC
House Finch     35 Sunset Rd
Cassin's Finch     Angel Creek Campground
American Goldfinch     Whitesbog
House Sparrow     Forsythe-Barnegat

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bombay Hook 8/29-8/30--American Golden Plover

A small sampling of the Avocets, etc at Bombay Hook
Shari & I spent the weekend in Delaware, mostly at Bombay Hook with a foray this morning to Sussex County in the southern part of the state. Aside from the attraction of the best Indian food in the U.S. (Flavors of India in a Motel 8 on DuPont Highway in Dover), American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts are what usually draw us there. However, having seen plenty of both recently in Utah and Nevada, it didn't seem as urgent this trip. But, coming around the corner of the road facing Raymond Pool and finding a more than a hundred avocets, seemingly marching along in unison, swishing their upturned bills in the water, is a spectacular sight and one I just don't get tired of. Plus, this late in the season, most of the birds are molting into alternate plumage. I prefer the stark black and white they wear in winter to the more colorful cinnamon colored plumage that adorns their heads and neck in summer. 

At Bombay Hook you usually see a hundred avocets for every Black-necked Stilt you find and that was the case this weekend too. It wasn't until the 2nd day, at the Shearness Pool, that I found one mixed in with a group of white egrets. A 2nd one soon appeared when the flock shifted around. 

The only year bird for the trip was a goodie--American Golden-Plover which Shari found in among a large flock of Black-bellied Plovers. This is a highly sought-after bird in NJ, but in Delaware it isn't even listed as rare. So while I still need one in my home state, it is good to have it on the year list. 

There were literally thousand of Semipalmated Plovers and Semipalmated Sandpipers there and, if I was the type with more patience I would have burnt out my eyes scoping the sandpiper flocks more carefully for Western or White-rumped but I'm not so I didn't. I'd rather find one weird bird in a field and try to figure out what it is than sort through an ever-shifting flock of peeps looking for the one that is sorta kinda different only to have it scamper away before I can show Shari. 

On Sunday we made stops at Prime Hook, Broadkill Marsh and the DuPont Nature Center. At the latter we found Shari's requisite American Oystercatchers on the jetty, a few Ruddy Turnstones, my favorite tern (Royal) and a couple of sad-looking molting Boat-tailed Grackles without their boat-tails.
Royal Terns
Molting Boat-tailed Grackle
We found 75 species for the weekend, which is okay for late summer and no early morning birding. Our list for Bombay Hook, over the 2 days, was a respectable 62. And we had fun. 
The Bombay Hook list:
Canada Goose    100
Tundra Swan    1
American Black Duck    5
Mallard    100
Blue-winged Teal    2
Double-crested Cormorant    2
Great Blue Heron    7
Great Egret    150
Snowy Egret    75
Little Blue Heron    2
Green Heron    1
Black-crowned Night-Heron    6
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron    2
Glossy Ibis    1
Black Vulture    2
Turkey Vulture    6
Osprey    1
Bald Eagle    2
Red-shouldered Hawk    2
Red-tailed Hawk    1
Black-necked Stilt    2
American Avocet    125
Black-bellied Plover    100
American Golden-Plover    1
Semipalmated Plover    1000
Killdeer    2
Greater Yellowlegs    50
Lesser Yellowlegs    25
Marbled Godwit    1
Least Sandpiper    2
Semipalmated Sandpiper    1000
Short-billed Dowitcher    30
Long-billed Dowitcher    1
Laughing Gull    50
Ring-billed Gull    1
Herring Gull    5
Great Black-backed Gull    5
Caspian Tern    2
Forster's Tern    3
Mourning Dove    1
Belted Kingfisher    1
Northern Flicker    1
Eastern Kingbird    1
White-eyed Vireo    1
Red-eyed Vireo    1
Blue Jay    2
American Crow    1
Tree Swallow    2
Barn Swallow    5
Carolina Chickadee    1
Tufted Titmouse    1
White-breasted Nuthatch    1
House Wren    1
Gray Catbird    5
Northern Mockingbird    2
Common Yellowthroat    3
Field Sparrow    1
Northern Cardinal    1
Blue Grosbeak    2
Indigo Bunting    1
Red-winged Blackbird    1
American Goldfinch    4

Friday, August 21, 2015

Gordon Rd Sod Farm 8/21--Baird's Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Middle of August and a birder's interests shift to the sod farms of Mercer & Monmouth Counties. In the four years we've living here the "hot" farm shifts around. This year, so far, it appears to be the one on Gordon Road off Route 539, putting just over the border into Mercer County. Lots of reports were coming in yesterday and with last night's rain I was hoping that rarities would still be attracted to the muddy fields.

After my morning walk in Colliers Mills (where I found only the expected birds), I drove up to Gordon Road. There were 4 or 5 birders there already scoping and scanning the gullies of the field. I pulled over and joined in but found nothing rare or exciting in the least. David pulled up with his son A.J. and asked about the Ruddy Turnstone, which would really be unusual so far inland. "Haven't heard about that one." It was on an eBird alert, but I haven't caught up with the 21st century with my communications devices. In any case, it wasn't there. While David & I caught up, the other birders drifted off to check the field from Rt 539, something I wasn't anxious to do, it being a busy road with trucks blowing by you at speed. I asked David about the sod farm up the road, the first one Shari & I ever visited, but he said it was pretty much dead there. So, I figured I'd pack it in and try another day when, like a messenger at the end of a play, a birder returned to announce that at least one of the rarities had been found from the county road.

We zipped over there to where the field was mostly a dirt lot with farm equipment. Many peeps and plovers were running around picking at the ground, undisturbed, mostly, by the coming and going pickup trucks. Kirsten announced that she thought she had a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, which would be a lifer for her. I looked, David looked, it looked like a buffie, though pretty distant.Then I found the turnstone, standing next to a huge tractor tire. I can safely say I never saw that juxtaposition before. The bird I was really interested in seeing, because it is a much more difficult bird for me to confidently i.d., was soon found fairly close in on the dirt. When I looked in David's scope, though, I only saw a Pectoral Sandpiper...not a bad bird, a rarity for those parts, but not the bird I wanted. The bird I wanted, the Baird's Sandpiper, was in front of the Pec. I found it in David's scope and in mine. This might be the 2nd time I've seen both Buff-breasted and Baird's in the same field and what I've noticed is that Buff-breasted Sandpiper stands erect, while Baird's has a horizontal profile. It's a good, quick filter when sorting through many little birds running around hither and yon.

So, 4 rarities in a morning is not a bad day of birding. I'll have to keep checking the fields--American Golden Plover is due in.

Here's what you can find in a field in central Jersey after a storm:
14 species
Great Blue Heron  1     f/o
Semipalmated Plover  2
Killdeer  25
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Solitary Sandpiper  1
Ruddy Turnstone  1     
Baird's Sandpiper  1    
Least Sandpiper  10
Buff-breasted Sandpiper  1     
Pectoral Sandpiper  1    
Semipalmated Sandpiper  5
Rock Pigeon   1
Fish Crow  1     Heard
American Robin  2

All the rarities were too far away to get a decent photo.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Brig 8/15--Stilt Sandpiper

Panoramic shot from the north dike
 Mike co-led a NJ Audubon trip at Brig today so, since Shari was otherwise engaged, I drove down with him. We left very early so we could take a spin around the dikes before the official beginning of the trip to give us a sense of what was where. When we first arrived on the Wildlife Drive a little after 7 there were plenty of the mudflats on the outside of the drive, while the impoundments themselves were still ridiculously high due to survey work the refuge is having done that requires boats, which require water and it was supposed to done two weeks and should have been done two months ago but I'm starting to rant.

Anyway, we had lots of peeps on the mud flats and Clapper Rails were easy to find scampering in and out of the reeds. We had most of the expected shorebirds, though not in great numbers. And I finally saw a Stilt Sandpiper this year, feeding like an oil derrick (as opposed to a sewing machine for dowitchers) pretty far out in the water off the east dike. Mike picked it out and I could tell by size, shape and feeding habit that it was a stilt. But it was definitely a BetterViewDesired bird. Despite diligently looking, we found no truly rare species today.

I had 75 species for the very long day there (we left around a quarter to 5) and then Mike and I did a loop around Whitesbog which, with the new species for the day we found there, rounded me up to 80. A fine way to spend the day.

Brig's list:
Canada Goose  50
Mute Swan  5
Wood Duck  10
American Black Duck  15
Mallard  1
Blue-winged Teal  4
Double-crested Cormorant  50
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  50
Snowy Egret  25
Little Blue Heron  1     gull pond
Black-crowned Night-Heron  10
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  3
Glossy Ibis  50
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  10
Bald Eagle  1
Clapper Rail  5
Clapper Rail  5
American Oystercatcher  1
Black-bellied Plover  10
Semipalmated Plover  100
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  25
Willet  1
Lesser Yellowlegs  10
Whimbrel  1
Ruddy Turnstone  3
Stilt Sandpiper  1
Least Sandpiper  10
Semipalmated Sandpiper  1000
Western Sandpiper  1
Short-billed Dowitcher  50
Laughing Gull  300
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  4
Least Tern  1
Gull-billed Tern  2     gull island
Caspian Tern  10
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  50
Black Skimmer  20
Chimney Swift  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard
Downy Woodpecker  1
Peregrine Falcon  3
Eastern Phoebe  2
Eastern Kingbird  3
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard, near Leed Eco-trail
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  5
Fish Crow  1
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  10
Carolina Chickadee  2     Heard
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
White-breasted Nuthatch  1     Heard
House Wren  1     Gull Pond
Carolina Wren  1     Heard, entrance
American Robin  3
Gray Catbird  3
European Starling  100
Cedar Waxwing  1     Parking lot
Common Yellowthroat  1
Yellow Warbler
Seaside Sparrow  1
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  4
Northern Cardinal  2
Blue Grosbeak  1     Upland  portion, near pond on Jen's Trail
Red-winged Blackbird  75
Boat-tailed Grackle  2     Turn onto north dike
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
American Goldfinch  4
Blue Grosbeak