Monday, May 9, 2016

IBSP & Lakehurst RR Tracks 5/9--A 14 Warbler Day

Lakehurst RR tracks panorama
Having pretty much missed the big Jersey fallout day yesterday, I tried to make up for it this morning and didn't do half bad, starting out at Reed's Road at Island Beach SP.  I wasn't long onto the path when a birder friend came up behind me and we fell in step naturally. Reed's Road ends at the bay, but if you make a right and head north, that's often where the real action is. The birders call it "the bowl." It is actually an inverted bowl, a section of stunted jack oak and pine with a sandy rise from which you can look higher into the surrounding trees without getting a bad case of warbler neck. There are actually a series of "bowls" going north and today we bushwhacked through about four of them, going much farther than I usually go by myself--but the birds were active and it was worth stepping through the greenbriars.

We had 12 species of warblers, 3 species of vireos, a Baltimore Oriole and a both a male and a female Scarlet Tanager, along with quite a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets which, suddenly on eBird, are supposed to be rare. They're not. Plus, everywhere we looked, everywhere, there were catbirds. Catbirds mewing, catbirds doing their pathetic imitations of other birds, catbirds fooling us into thinking they were a much more interesting bird.

I was lucky today to bird with her because she found a few warblers (like the American Redstart) that I'm certain would have eluded my slow focusing eyes. For the path and bowls I had 46 species, a respectable number and many more than I usually get in that area:
Canada Goose  15     f/o
Double-crested Cormorant  10     f/o
Great Egret  1     f/o
Glossy Ibis  10     f/o
Cooper's Hawk  1
Spotted Sandpiper  5
Laughing Gull  2
Herring Gull  10
Mourning Dove  1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1     Heard
Downy Woodpecker  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
White-eyed Vireo  2
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  1
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  1     Heard
Carolina Chickadee  2
House Wren  1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  10     Probably a low count.
Gray Catbird  70
Brown Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  1
Ovenbird  5
Black-and-white Warbler  10
Common Yellowthroat  5
Hooded Warbler  1
American Redstart  1
Northern Parula  25
Magnolia Warbler  1
Yellow Warbler  2
Blackpoll Warbler  2
Black-throated Blue Warbler  3
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Prairie Warbler  1
White-throated Sparrow  10
Swamp Sparrow  1
Eastern Towhee  20
Scarlet Tanager  2
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Brown-headed Cowbird  1
Baltimore Oriole  1
American Goldfinch  1

I drove south and walked the Spizzle Creek trail with another friend I bumped into--a decent number of shorebirds were in the marsh, I notched my first Little Blue Heron of the month and we saw an out of season hen Bufflehead sitting in the marsh. I'm wondering if the bird is injured. 

I was heading home, driving through Seaside Park when I pulled into a parking lot to take a call from Shari. She was at massage therapy school and they were short a body, so she asked me if I'd come over so she could practice on me. Luckily (for her) it was just a straight shot down Rt 37 for me so, good husband that I am, I drove over and had the first full-body massage of my life. If no one else plays hooky the rest of course, it will be my last. It isn't that Shari doesn't give a good massage; it is that getting massaged happens to rub me the wrong way.

Concrete shed along the tracks
But after the massage and after I finally ate lunch, I found that I still had the birding jones, so I drove to the Lakehurst railroad tracks. These abandoned tracks once served as the route of Jersey Central's Blue Comet, their express from Jersey City to the shore, but trains haven't run on them for decades. They run through pine forest, wetlands and through what appear to have been sand or clay quarries and the birding can be surprisingly good as you walk over the rather sketchy-looking bridge and along the detritus-strewn tracks.

A few days ago, at Cloverdale Farms, another birder told me she'd had a Chestnut-sided Warbler, which, of course, I couldn't find. But today, perhaps 500 feet along the tracks, I pished one in: Year bird, county bird. Even better, about 1/2 mile down (up?) the tracks, in a dense thicket, I saw a Wilson's Warbler, unmistakable with its little black yarmulke. Year bird, state bird (and thus, in Venn diagram, also a county bird. Two cool warblers that I had no real expectations of seeing today.

I give myself 1 hour to walk as far on the tracks as I can get. The hours always seems to be up at the same spot, no matter how active the birds are (meaning no matter how many times I stop). It is when I reach what I assume is a filled in quarry that I do an about face.
When you get to the Killdeer, turn around
I took one bird picture today (not counting the above, which I took to confirm the bird's i.d.). Warblers don't stay still long enough for my mediocre, slow-focusing camera (matches my eyes). But this towhee, atop a wood structure left over from the railroad, was singing and stationary.

My 2 mile walk along the tracks produced 26 species.
Turkey Vulture  3
Killdeer  1
Greater Yellowlegs  1     Heard by large quarry pond
Mourning Dove  2
Chimney Swift  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1     Heard
Blue Jay  1     Heard
Fish Crow  2
Carolina Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2
Gray Catbird  
European Starling  10
Ovenbird  5     Heard
Black-and-white Warbler  4     Heard
Common Yellowthroat  5
Chestnut-sided Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
Prairie Warbler  4
Wilson's Warbler  1
White-throated Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  3     Heard
Eastern Towhee  6
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  1
House Sparrow  3

1 comment:

  1. I was almost certain there would be a side note about A Roseate Spoonbill here somewhere :-)