Thursday, April 28, 2016

Colliers Mills WMA 4/28--Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher

A frustrating morning at Colliers Mills: none of the warblers I hoped to see were evident and the two new birds of the year were "heard only." In general, unless it's an owl or a nightjar, or a blatantly obvious bird like a Blue Jay or crow, I don't like my FOYs to be "heard birds." I started out a birdwatcher and even though now I'm a birder, I still prefer my birds on the retina instead of the ear drum.

Both birds were heard on Hawkin Road and both birds, following a personal rule of mine, were heard at least twice. The trees are just starting to leaf out and that means even birds that seem on top of you (like a very loud Brown Thrasher today) are getting harder to find.

Traipsing around for 3 1/2 hours, exploring a couple of paths I rarely walk, yielded 42 species. They were:
Canada Goose  10
Wood Duck  3     Pond on Hawkin Rd
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  1
Bald Eagle  1
Killdeer  1     North end of CM Lake
Mourning Dove  4
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  1     Heard, Hawkin Road
Red-bellied Woodpecker  5
Downy Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker  3
Eastern Phoebe  1     Heard, north end of CM Lake
Great Crested Flycatcher  1     Heard, Hawkin Road
Eastern Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  2     Heard
Blue Jay  4
Fish Crow  1     Heard
Tree Swallow  4
Barn Swallow  10
Carolina Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  3     Heard
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  10
Eastern Bluebird  1
American Robin  10
Gray Catbird  3
Brown Thrasher  2     Heard
European Starling  15
Ovenbird  5     Heard
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  5     Heard
Palm Warbler  4
Pine Warbler  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  10
Prairie Warbler  5     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  15
Swamp Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  20
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  15
Brown-headed Cowbird  1     Heard

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Double Trouble SP 4/27--Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Bogs and sorting house
A very cool, one might say "cold" overcast morning was probably not the ideal time to search the woods of Double Trouble for warblers. I turned up the usual, easy birds, but nothing new. Ovenbirds were singing all over the place; I have yet to see one. I did manage to view the other warblers, like Prairie, Black-and-white, Pine, and Yellow-rumped, the latter in full breeding plumage now, very handsome and hard to believe it is the same species that winters here.

After scouring the woods, I decided I might as well make it a long walk and headed out to the back bogs, not really expecting the unexpected. I saw two swallows swoop by and figured, from color, that they were Northern Rough-winged Swallows, but it was a lousy look in gray light and I debated with myself whether to count them all the way along Parkway Access Road until I emerged at the bogs in front of the sorting house. I had just decided that I couldn't really be certain of their identity when, as if delivered by the kindly birding gods, I saw three brown swallows flying and dipping over the water and with good long looks through my binoculars, NRWS went on the year list, adding a nice symmetry to the month's list which already had their tropical counterpart--Southern Rough-winged Swallow--checked off.

Beyond that I filled in none of the lacunae on my list. I know I'll get these (supposedly) easy birds sooner or later but I'd like it to be sooner.

Today's list:
26 species
Canada Goose  16
Downy Woodpecker  3
Eastern Phoebe  1
Eastern Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  2
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  3
Carolina Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  5
Ovenbird  20     
Black-and-white Warbler  5
Pine Warbler  7

Common Yellowthroat  6
Yellow-rumped Warbler   2
Prairie Warbler  4
Chipping Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  20
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  15
American Goldfinch  1

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Great Bay Blvd 4/26--Seaside Sparrow

Late start this morning, due to errands, so there was little point in walking in the woods because all the activity would have been over, so I drove the boring 30 miles down to Great Bay Blvd to get my walk in and, I hoped, see some interesting birds. But I only heard a new bird for the year; Seaside Sparrows were singing at my first stop and despite diligently scoping the tall reeds and the low bushes there and later at the inlet, I wasn't able to actually see one, though a bird skulking on the ground and couple of dark fly-bys might have been the sparrows.

I took my usual long walk from the beach up to the first wooden beach, a round trip of about 3 1/2 miles, finding 6 species of shorebirds, one of which, Short-billed Dowitcher, was new for the county. I'm stupefied at this point that I have not come across any Night-Herons yet and I regret, now, my chance to look for the Black-crowned Night-Heron at a known roosting spot on LBI in January because, I said, "I'll get them easily enough, later." Words to rue. There are two spots, one by each wooden bridge, where I've seen both herons roosting in small stands of pine trees, but so far not this year.  Whimbrel has been reported there too and every far off candidate turned out to be yet another Willet

For my 3 hours of pounding the Boulevard of Broken Asphalt I tallied 30 species. They were:
Brant  80
Canada Goose  1
Mallard  2     Marsh before first wooden bridge
Double-crested Cormorant  115
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  25
Snowy Egret  10
Glossy Ibis  4
Osprey  15
American Oystercatcher  2
Black-bellied Plover  9
Greater Yellowlegs  10
Willet  20
Dunlin  9
Short-billed Dowitcher  1
Laughing Gull  20
Ring-billed Gull  2
Herring Gull  100
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Forster's Tern  15
Northern Flicker  1
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  10
Common Yellowthroat  5     Heard
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Seaside Sparrow  5     Heard
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Red-winged Blackbird  75
Boat-tailed Grackle  50
Greater Yellowlegs were easy to find 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Spizzle Creek 4/25--Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird
Another trip to Island Beach SP in search of migrants. This time there were very few to be found. Reed's Road was extremely quiet; however, I did finally log my first county Gray Catbird of the year--two actually. With a Brown Thrasher and a couple of mockers, I had the mimids swept.

Seeing that no warblers of any significance were around (I even walked the another, lesser known trail with practically zero results), I drove on down to my favorite spot in the park--Spizzle Creek. There were enough birds in the marsh and in the pools to keep me interested, but I was happiest when I turned a corner and saw my first Eastern Kingbird of the year perched up on a branch.

The wind started to pick up, so any plans to walk the beach were abandoned. I could see from the end of the Spizzle Creek trail that the Winter Anchorage wouldn't be too rewarding, so I left the park mid-morning and drove once again to Cloverdale Farm. I stopped yesterday, hoping to get Shari the Prothonotary Warbler but we just missed it, though it seems like all the other county birders got a look at it. I was hoping to see it today, if only to use it for Bird A Day (I used Barred Owl on Saturday), but what I was really hoping was to find at least one of the two Solitary Sandpipers reported there yesterday. Nope on both birds.

So, sifting through today's lists, looking for a Bird A Day candidate, I was surprised to find that it filtered down to Willet as the bird I'm likely to see the fewest times of all the Spring/Summer/Fall birds still available on today's list. And considering the Brig closure, it seems like a good choice to me.

Today's Spizzle Creek list:
27 species
Brant  15
Canada Goose  2
Mallard  1
Bufflehead  6
Red-breasted Merganser  2     In pool off left hand side of trail
Common Loon  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  3
Snowy Egret  5
Osprey  8
American Oystercatcher  1
Black-bellied Plover  7
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Willet  2
Dunlin  30
Herring Gull  10
Forster's Tern  5
Eastern Kingbird  1     
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard
Fish Crow  2
Gray Catbird  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
Common Yellowthroat  2     Heard
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Song Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Boat-tailed Grackle  2

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cloverdale Farm 4/23--Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler
The weather deteriorated at Whitesbog as an intermittent rain became a steady one and I did something I almost never do--accepted a ride back to my car from a friend who was there instead of walking another mile or so.

I intended to go home, but as I approached the Wawa on Rt 70 the rain stopped; I refueled on coffee and decided to drive down to the Barnegat impoundments where yesterday there had been some birds that would be new for the year for me. When I got there the rain, of course, had started again, with a stiff wind to boot, and the only birds there where the usual stalwarts. Again, I was heading home when I missed the turnoff to the Parkway. The road I was on took me past Cloverdale Farm CP.

I like Cloverdale Farm, but don't bird it that often because the loop isn't long enough to satisfy my "vigorous walk" requirement. I have to do two loops to even come close and if things are quiet, the 2nd loop can be boring. But today one loop would make up for the truck ride at Whitesbog. The only problem is that the rain hadn't stopped but had gotten heavier. Still, I slogged on, not finding anything of particular interest until I was almost done with walk. At the first bog by the entrance gate (I walk the loop in reverse) my cell phone rang. It was Shari, wondering if I had plans to ever come home. While I was assuring her that I was walking to the car, I saw a big warbler feeding in a clump of reeds. My first reaction was "That's a big Pine Warbler and what's it doing in the bog?" I realized very quickly that it wasn't a Pine, (no wing bars for one thing) then started to mentally flipping through the warblers until I realized the only one that matched was Prothonotary Warbler which is very rare for the county. Not unheard of (there was one in Lakehurst last year), but most of the time I have to go to Belleplain or Estell Manor to get this species. I watched it for a while as it fed, eating a winged insect and as it fought off a Pine Warbler. Eventually, I lost it. There were no other birders there to share it with and I haven't figured out how to send messages on snjbirds, so after texting a few people and taking some photos, I decided it was time to get out of the rain and go home.

Thinking about the habitat, Cloverdale, which is yet another former cranberry farm, provides perfect habitat--wooded swamps with ponds, low understory for it feed in--everything a warbler that overshoots its usual range would want. Greg and I have both thought that Cloverdale had potential and today was the first day, for me at least, that it lived up to it.

My rain-soaked list. A lot of "heard" on the list because I didn't feel like uncapping my binoculars just to find a common bird.
26 species
Mourning Dove  1     heard
Belted Kingfisher  1     heard
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     heard
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Blue Jay  1     heard
American Crow  1     heard
Fish Crow  2     heard
Tree Swallow  5
Carolina Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  2
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Carolina Wren  1     heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  8
American Robin  7
Black-and-white Warbler  1
Prothonotary Warbler  1    
Pine Warbler  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Chipping Sparrow  5
Savannah Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  3     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  15
Common Grackle  5
Brown-headed Cowbird  2

Whitesbog 4/23--Barred Owl

Back from vacation more than a week and I still hadn't been to Whitesbog, so, since I felt like I needed a long walk this morning, I headed over there, arriving around 7:30. The morning was cool and damp; if I wanted to make it back to the Upper Reservoir with a chance of not getting wet, I knew I'd have to walk straight through the Burlington County section of the bogs, instead of investigating Ditch Meadows and the landing strip as I have been doing of late. Even walking fast through that section I had a few warblers and heard a lot of birds.

When I was in Ocean County, I slowed down a little. I was standing by one of the reservoirs, looking at a new Mallard family, when a couple of crow-sized birds flew overhead. One was a crow (Fish) while the other was a Green Heron trying to get away from the crow. Just then I heard, coming from the direction of Ft Dix, "Hoo Hoo Hoohoo!" I've never heard a Barred Owl at Whitesbog and I was especially pleased to be standing in Ocean County when it called.

I was again hoping for catbird. Again my hopes were dashed. I was also looking for Eastern Kingbird. There's usually a few by the Upper Reservoir--the like to perch atop the dead trees there--but I was informed by a friend there that I was a bit early for them. The food is there for them though--plenty of bugs flying around.

Still, a morning with an owl cannot be a disappointment.
31 species for my relatively straightforward walk around the bogs:
Canada Goose   2
Mallard   5
Green Heron   2
Turkey Vulture   1
Red-tailed Hawk   1
Barred Owl   1
Red-bellied Woodpecker   1
Northern Flicker   1
Eastern Phoebe   1
White-eyed Vireo   1
Blue Jay   1
Fish Crow   1
Tree Swallow   5
House Wren   1
Carolina Wren   1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher   4
American Robin   5
Ovenbird   1
Black-and-white Warbler   1
Common Yellowthroat   2
Pine Warbler   1
Yellow-rumped Warbler   1
Prairie Warbler   1
Chipping Sparrow   5
White-throated Sparrow   1
Song Sparrow   4
Swamp Sparrow   3
Eastern Towhee   3
Red-winged Blackbird   25
Common Grackle   5
Brown-headed Cowbird   2

Friday, April 22, 2016

Across the Street 4/22--Ruby-throated Hummingbird

I was sitting on our neighbor's patio this afternoon, watching him try to get an old CB radio functioning (why he had one and why he wanted to make it work remain inexplicable). They had their hummingbird feeder out. Shari put ours out as soon we got back from vacation. Sue asked me if we'd seen any hummingbirds yet and I said no, but very soon we should. Maybe next week. Or maybe in the next half hour because when I glanced over my shoulder to see if the mail truck was stopping by our boxes, a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird dashed over to their feeder, took a quick sip, then flew off. Now, right in the middle of all those exotic T&T hummers on my year list, the familiar ruby-throat sits, between Long-billed Starthroat and Blue-tailed Emerald.

Bunker Hill Bogs 4/22--Green Heron, White-eyed Vireo, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat

Sometimes an easy bird eludes me and even though I know I'll see the bird eventually, I want to see it now. In this case it is Gray Catbird, which I've actually seen a couple of times this year, but not lately and not in Ocean County. When the catbirds do come in, they'll be ubiquitous, but right now I can't find one. I looked at my records from last year and Bunker Hill Bogs was a place where last spring I listed 30 catbirds, so there I went this morning. In the back of my mind there were a couple of other birds that might be there, but catbird was the goal.

(Once, in Prospect Park, in summer, I said to the guy I was birding with that I was thoroughly sick of catbirds. He replied that "soon they'll be gone and you'll miss them." He was right.)

I never found a catbird today, not at Bunker Hill and not at FREC. However, within 5 minutes of my arrival, standing on the viewing platform, I did see my first Green Heron of the year, followed quickly by a sighting of two of them flying over the bogs. That was one of the birds in the back of my mind.

I was hoping that some warblers might have arrived and in that regard I was successful--a 6 warbler day, including good looks at Black-and-white Warbler (heard only, heretofore), my first Common Yellowthroats, and a couple of singing (though not seen) Ovenbirds. I wish I could get pictures of some of these flitting birds, but my camera seems to focus on the twigs they're behind, not the bird itself.

While walking out to one of the cross-dikes I heard a familiar song. "Sounds like a Rufous-browed Peppershrike," I joked to myself (yes, I tell myself jokes). It was, of course, a White-eyed Vireo, whose song I referred to when we first heard the peppershrike (in the vireo family) on Trinidad.

The Wood Ducks were in the back bog, as they almost always are, a Great Egret was seen there too, a Brown Thrasher subbed in for the absent catbirds and in all I had 33 species.

Canada Goose  11
Wood Duck  6
American Black Duck  5
Mallard  5
Wild Turkey  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  1
Green Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Mourning Dove  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2     Heard
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
White-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  2
Tree Swallow  10
Carolina Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  10
Brown Thrasher  1
Ovenbird  2     Heard
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  4
Palm Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  5
Song Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  10
Northern Cardinal  2     Heard
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Common Grackle  4
American Goldfinch  1     Heard

An Existential Problem

White-faced Ibis (bottom) with Glossy Ibises
Photo: Skyler Streich
If you see a flock of ibises and one of them later, after examining a photo, turns out to be a White-faced Ibis, have you seen the bird? Can you count it?

This happened yesterday at Island Beach SP. While I was chatting on the beach of Barnegat Bay with Skyler Streich, we had a close fly-by of a flock of ibises. We both joked about finding the White-faced Ibis in the flock of what I estimated to be 25 birds, while Skyler lifted his camera and shot some photos. Last night, after examining his pictures, Skyler sent me an email with an attached picture: It turns out that there actually was a white-faced in the flock of 24 (good guess, on my part). I saw all 24 birds, but did I really see the rare one?  I certainly didn't recognize the bird at the time, but my life list would be a little shorter if it only had birds on it that I immediately recognized. I saw a lot of flycatchers in T&T that someone else had to put a name to, yet I count those birds.

When you fill out an eBird report, you're actually submitting a bird survey, so I can say, based on the evidence, that at around 8:30 yesterday there was a White-faced Ibis flying low over Barnegat Bay. But I don't have to, because Skyler already submitted his report and if I were to list it, it would actually make the bird seem a bit more common that it really is.

With digital photography, we have, in a way, returned to the birding style  of pre-binoculars days, when the best (and, really the only acceptable) way to identify an interesting bird was to  shoot it dead with a shotgun and figure out what it was later. A purely visual sighting was met with skepticism.  Now the birds have the advantage of only being figuratively shot.

If I had taken the picture, I probably would be inclined to count the bird; this seems absolutely irrational to me, but there is a sense of "capturing" the bird with the camera that I don't have looking at someone else's photo, even though I was right next to him what the event occurred. It's the same kind of irrationality that makes me want to see a bird in my scope before I feel like I've seen it. I will count a bird in someone else's scope. But this ibis I can't, in good conscience, list.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Island Beach SP 4/21--Blue-headed Vireo, Prairie Warbler

Blue-headed Vireo
Southerly winds made me think there might be migrants coming in, so I took a walk  this morning along Reed's Road on Island Beach SP, a well-known migrant trap. I go there despite never really having much luck. I like the pathway, once a road to a rough and ready hotel for outdoors-men. So I wasn't surprised when I was finding virtually nothing on my way in, though I did run into a fellow birder and caught up with him, standing on the beach of Barnegat Bay while ibises and cormorants flew in large flocks over the water.

After checking out "the bowl" a grove of pines a little north of the road, I was making my way back when I spotted an FOY, a Prairie Warbler jumping through the branches of a tree. It wasn't singing. I heard my friend up ahead, but didn't know if he was on the phone or talking to someone and didn't want to yell out PRAIRIE WARBLER, especially if he'd seen it already. It turns out he was talking to another birder we both know and, yes, they had both had the warbler before me.  A Field Sparrow made an appearance while we were chatting, exchanging places with the warbler. We continued in opposite directions and just before I came to the main road I pished a bit, just to see if I could draw out one more bird and sure enough, one jumped up, looking a bit like a warbler until I got a look at its spectacles and large bill--my first Blue-headed Vireo of the year. Again, not singing. I know Prairie Warblers nest in the county and I believe the vireo does too--I guess they're just not interested in nesting on Reed's Road and would rather be on the mainland.

I drove down to the Spizzle Creek trail where there was a Brown Thrasher singing at the head of the path and when I made it out to the marsh, there was a large flock of shorebirds across the water, mostly Dunlins, getting the black patches on their bellies, but a good number of Black-bellied Plovers were there too, along with a couple of Greater Yellowlegs (they were singing; they're always "singing") and my NJ Willets were mixed in with all the rest. My first Willet this year was off Little Tobago Island, where it was considered "rare." But these Willets are county birds.

I had 42 species in all, including a late junco along the path to the Winter Anchorage.
Species   First Sighting
Brant   Spizzle Creek
Mute Swan   Reed’s Road
Mallard   Reed’s Road
Bufflehead   Reed’s Road
Red-breasted Merganser   Spizzle Creek
Double-crested Cormorant   Reed’s Road
Great Egret   Spizzle Creek
Snowy Egret   Spizzle Creek
Glossy Ibis   Reed’s Road
Osprey   Spizzle Creek
Black-bellied Plover   Spizzle Creek
Greater Yellowlegs   Spizzle Creek
Willet   Spizzle Creek
Dunlin   Spizzle Creek
Laughing Gull   Reed’s Road
Herring Gull   Reed’s Road
Great Black-backed Gull   Reed’s Road
Forster's Tern   Spizzle Creek
Mourning Dove   Reed’s Road
Red-bellied Woodpecker   Reed’s Road
Peregrine Falcon   Spizzle Creek
Blue-headed Vireo   Reed’s Road
American Crow   Reed’s Road
Fish Crow   Spizzle Creek
Carolina Chickadee   Reed’s Road
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher   Reed’s Road
American Robin   Reed’s Road
Brown Thrasher   Spizzle Creek
Northern Mockingbird   Reed’s Road
Cedar Waxwing   Reed’s Road
Yellow-rumped Warbler   Reed’s Road
Prairie Warbler   Reed’s Road
Chipping Sparrow   Winter Anchorage
Field Sparrow   Reed’s Road
Dark-eyed Junco   Winter Anchorage
White-throated Sparrow   Reed’s Road
Song Sparrow   Reed’s Road
Eastern Towhee   Reed’s Road
Red-winged Blackbird   Reed’s Road
Boat-tailed Grackle   Spizzle Creek
Brown-headed Cowbird   Reed’s Road
American Goldfinch   Reed’s Road
Finally, one of the first things I saw this morning was this displaying tom on the back lawn. The two hens picking at the grass were not impressed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Colliers Mills WMA 4/20--Black-and-white Warbler

I met up with Greg and Rich this morning at Colliers Mills. They'd been to T&T last year and wanted to compare my experience with theirs. Why slog through the blog when I could give them the executive summary? We made one & a half circuits of Turnmill Pond, plus they showed me a pond farther up on Hawkin Road than I'd ever walked. As I say, the more you walk Colliers Mills, the bigger it gets.

A few highlights on the day:
A pair of Wood Ducks high up tree over Colliers Mills Lake. This is probably a nesting site. I've never actually seen woodies up in a tree--these ducks are traditionalists, eschewing the boxes provided for them at lake level. I pity the ducklings that have to jump into the water from that height though.

A Red-headed Woodpecker made an appearance across the field from Success Road. They seem to have moved from their wintering spot behind the firing range and are probably digging out a nest in the trees along the berm. With luck, with a scope, we'll be able to get them for the World Series of Birding in May.

Not many warblers in yet--plenty of Palm Warblers and Yellow-rump Warblers are handsome in their breeding plumage, while Pine Warblers are trilling everywhere, but we only heard, and couldn't find, one Black-and-white Warbler. Everyone is getting impatient for warbler migration, as they get every year.

We at first heard, then found, a Brown Thrasher, making what Rich's birding app termed a "smack call." That seemed to us an apt description of the loud note the bird was making. At 7:30 is very active in the woods. Despite a billion gnats coming out mid-morning, the birds slipped back into the woods and the last 45 minutes or so were pretty quiet.

32 species
Canada Goose  1
Wood Duck  2    
Turkey Vulture  1
Killdeer  2
Red-headed Woodpecker  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker
 1     Heard
Northern Flicker  1     Heard
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  1     Heard
Fish Crow  1     Heard
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  1
Carolina Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Eastern Bluebird  2
American Robin  5
Brown Thrasher  1
Black-and-white Warbler  1     Heard
Palm Warbler  10
Pine Warbler  5
Yellow-rumped Warbler  4
Chipping Sparrow  5
Field Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  3
Savannah Sparrow  5
Eastern Towhee  10
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Brown-headed Cowbird  3
American Goldfinch  1     Turnmill Pond berm

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Backyard 4/18--Eastern Whip-poor-will

I was hoping that the first bird we'd hear when we got back in the early a.m. from T&T would be the whip-poor-will but there were none singing. It was probably too cold that night and, checking my records, I see that last year's whip was first hear on 4/15. It took a few more days, which have been unseasonably cool, but last night, with the temperature a little warmer, just after sunset I heard my first two whip-poor-wills, one calling in the WMA woods, the other across the street in the trees.

I want them to keep calling through the night until the World Series of Birding so we can check that box effortlessly.

And now, I'm all caught up.

Cattus Island 4/17--Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis
I hit a couple of other spots down around Rt 9 (the Barnegat impoundments and Waretown Lake) adding Forster's Tern to the county list, when I remembered we were running low on kitty litter. I thought I might as well go to Cattus Island to see what was there, though I knew the dreaded families would be strolling.

Tricolored Herons, Snowy Egret
I planned to make a quick look into the first marsh, where Tricolored Herons are often seen, but seeing none there, my momentum took over and I walked all the way out to end of the sandy peninsula and then back along the blue trail as it follows the marsh. Standing at one of the blinds I saw a couple of waders way out in the marsh in glaring sunlight. One was a Snowy Egret, the other, was dark, with a white plume. At first, I thought Yellow-crowned Night Heron, then Little Blue, which I saw there at the end of March. There is a pathway through the phragmites a little further on and it wasn't too wet. I walked out there with my scope and re-found the birds, joined by a third. When I saw the white belly on the first I knew I had my county Tricolored Heron and then another bird flew in, raised its wings, and confirmed the i.d.

Having found my target bird and not having had lunch ( and still with kitty litter to purchase) I started back to the parking lot with a light heart and a light head. I had turned the corner, passing a photographer I'd seen earlier. He was photographing a distant Osprey on a perch.. No need to stop. Then he pointed his camera to the sky. I looked up, saw a dark bird, thought maybe crow, saw it more clearly and watched it land in the marsh where it bumped aside a Greater Yellowlegs, the year's first Glossy Ibis.  I took a couple of photos. Now I was officially done for the day.
20 species
Canada Goose  2
Mallard  1     Peninsula marsh
Bufflehead  37
Snowy Egret  1
Tricolored Heron  2     
Glossy Ibis  1    
Osprey  4
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Herring Gull  10
Belted Kingfisher  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard, blue trail
American Crow  1     Heard
Fish Crow  3
Tree Swallow  10
Carolina Chickadee  2     Heard, blue trail
Eastern Bluebird  1
Pine Warbler  2     Heard
Song Sparrow  2     Heard
Eastern Towhee  1     Blue trail
American Goldfinch  3

Manahawkin WMA 4/17--Clapper Rail

Sunday was devoted to Ocean County. Looking for a place that wouldn't be crowded with families out for a Sunday stroll, or fishermen crowding the beaches, I drove down to the Manahawkin WMA. I was glad to see that the path to the back impoundment had been recently mowed. I walked down there with my scope and found a large number of Green-winged Teals. I was pleased to find about 10 Blue-winged Teals mixed in with them. Always a good bird, and not so easy for me in the county. There wasn't much else there to hold my interest, though I did do the full walk, about 2 1/2 miles back & forth, to the entrance on Hilliard. Driving back out on Stafford I heard something and stopped the car. Not sure. Driving along I saw another birder and just as I stopped the car again, I heard the call. The birder, from Massachusetts, asked me if that was a Clapper Rail and it was. 3 of them calling deep in the phragmites, with no desire to be seen. A good bird to get and one we missed yesterday, though another birder at Brig told us one had flown right over our car without our seeing it.
36 species
Canada Goose  3
Mute Swan  7
American Black Duck  3
Mallard  4
Blue-winged Teal  10
Green-winged Teal  120
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  9
Snowy Egret  1
Osprey  1
Clapper Rail  3     Heard, Stafford Av
Lesser Yellowlegs  2
Herring Gull  15
Great Black-backed Gull  4
Mourning Dove  2
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  1     Heard, Stafford Av
Fish Crow  3
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  10
Carolina Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard
Marsh Wren  1     Heard, trail
Carolina Wren  1     Heard, Stafford Av
American Robin  8
Pine Warbler  1     Heard Stafford Av
Yellow-rumped Warbler  4
White-throated Sparrow  1     Heard, trail
Song Sparrow  5
Swamp Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard, trail
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  15
American Goldfinch  1

Brig 4/16--Blue-winged Teal, Short-billed Dowitcher, Caspian Tern, Forster's Tern, Barn Swallow, Marsh Wren, Brown Thrasher

Blue-winged Teal
Ack! We got home to the news that Brig was shutting down for at least 6 weeks to improve the road and reinforce the dikes. Sunday would be the last day it was fully open, so on Saturday, Shari & I met up with our buddy Bob Auster for one last go-round.

We weren't even in the refuge proper when we got our first FOY, a Blue-winged Teal in the entrance pond.

The terns have returned, at least the Caspian and Forster's species. We saw lots of the latter, only a couple of the former.  Mixed in with a large flock of Dunlin, I espied, on our 2nd circuit, our first Short-billed Dowitchers of the year, and at the exit ponds, another birder pointed out the song of a Marsh Wren. A couple of Barn Swallows over the dikes and a quick glance at a Brown Thrasher just before the exit filled out the FOY list.

It is going to be a difficult spring without Brig, especially for shore birds. I'm hoping that "6 weeks" construction schedule is not a typical contractor's six weeks which can turn to ten or twelve, but a schedule that is based on a real calendar.

Our last trip there for a while netted 52 species.
Snow Goose  3
Brant  50
Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  2
Wood Duck  3
Gadwall  3
American Black Duck  15
Mallard  12
Blue-winged Teal  6
Northern Shoveler  30
Green-winged Teal  20
Bufflehead  12
Double-crested Cormorant  15
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  20
Snowy Egret  30
Turkey Vulture  4
Osprey  15
Northern Harrier  1
American Coot  4
American Oystercatcher  4
Black-bellied Plover  6
Greater Yellowlegs  25
Lesser Yellowlegs
Dunlin  250
Short-billed Dowitcher  2
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  100
Great Black-backed Gull  5
Caspian Tern  2Forster's Tern  20
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard
Peregrine Falcon  1
Fish Crow  10
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  15
Barn Swallow  2
Carolina Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  2
Marsh Wren  1     Heard, exit ponds
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1
Brown Thrasher  1
Pine Warbler  1     Heard
Yellow-rumped Warbler  4
Chipping Sparrow  2     Heard
Song Sparrow  5
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Brown-headed Cowbird  10
House Finch  1     Heard
American Goldfinch  2     Heard