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


  1. Now, those are three beautiful photos, thanks!

  2. Larry, I really appreciate you posting these great sightings and directions! I was able to pickup the Prothonotary warbler in Cloverdale on Sunday, as well as the Red-headed Woodpecker in Colliers Mills last week, both of which I wouldn't have found otherwise. Just wanted to say thanks!