Monday, December 28, 2015

Assunpink 12/28--A Few More "Good" Birds

White-crowned Sparrows with Mourning Doves
It's getting pretty late in the month and the year to add anything new to either list, but I thought, correctely, a trip to Assunpink might reward me with a month bird. Just before you enter the WMA proper, along Imlaystown Road, there is a farm with a gravel driveway, on which, for reasons unknown, White-crowned Sparrows congregate reliably,starting in late fall and continuing through the early spring. Perhaps it is the hedges on either side of the driveway that gives them cover and from which they fly down to peck among the pebbles that makes it so attractive to them. I didn't see any on my last foray up there a couple of weeks ago, but today there were 7 of them feeding there. This number, according to eBird's filter, is a high count for the species at this date and location; they require more information. So my notes read: Exact count, along with the above picture of 4 sparrows. They'll have to take it on faith that there were 3 more that I couldn't fit into the frame.

I was hoping for waterfowl, but duck hunters put the kibosh on that idea. All I was able to come up with were about 20 ruddies, a couple of swans, and some flyover geese. The duck hunters didn't look like they were having any more luck than me.

I left the parking lot and started my walk, first up and around the road to the northern side of the lake, hoping against hope that I would find a Northern Shrike in the same area where one was a couple of years ago (and, of course, didn't), then back and along the semi-circular road that runs along the lake's southern shore where I did pick up another month bird--Field Sparrow, a species that amuses me because their eye-ring always gives them a startled look.

Instead of backtracking to the parking lot after checking the eastern end of the lake (here hoping that the Trumpeter Swans of the last two winters would again appear (and, of course, they didn't), I walked up the road to the site of old HQ, torn down this year. Here I came across the proverbial mixed flock of passerines, with Yellow-rumped Warblers being predominate. I did, though, spot a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, another favorite, especially compared to what I was used to in Brooklyn where RCKIs were much more common than Golden-crowned Kinglets, while here in NJ the situation is reversed and I see at least 10 kinglets with golden spots for every one I see with a ruby cap.

Once the day got a tad warmer--today is one of the few December days to actually feel like winter--vultures were up in the thermals and high above the common Turkey Vultures I spotted 4 Black Vultures, easy to pick out just by shape, though I did get to confirm them by the white ends of their wings. Returning along the main road to the parking lot I pished out a couple of flocks of White-throated Sparrows and in among the first flock what I took at first to be a Hermit Thrush but then, once it stood out on a twig, I quickly realized was a very handsome Fox Sparrow.

So the year kind of dwindles away. There are some rarities in the state but not in places I feel like chasing so I just wander around my familiar spots looking find anything I can that is out of place.

For the day I ticked off 25 species, herewith:
Canada Goose  27     two f/o flocks.
Mute Swan  2
Ruddy Duck  20
Black Vulture  4
Turkey Vulture  8
Northern Harrier  2
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Ring-billed Gull  3
Mourning Dove  10
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Blue Jay  10
Fish Crow  1     Heard
Carolina Chickadee  6
Tufted Titmouse  2     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard, old HQ site
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  15
Field Sparrow  4
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  5
White-crowned Sparrow  7     
White-throated Sparrow  15
Song Sparrow  4
American Goldfinch  1

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