Sunday, May 8, 2016

Manahawkin WMA 5/8--Black-throated Blue Warbler

I drove down Stafford Avenue this morning rather late (8:52 AM arrival) after waiting for the rain to cease. The road separates the Manahawkin WMA from Forsythe's Bridge to Nowhere parcel. The upland portion was alive with the songs of Wood Thrushes and they weren't hard to find. Other warblers were, aside from the most common ones like Yellow Warblers, Ovenbirds, and Common Yellowthroats.  I had considered going to Island Beach this morning but just didn't feel like it--I try to avoid state parks on weekends. Had I gone I would probably have seen many more interesting birds. I'll go tomorrow and be a day late and a dollar short.

The only new bird for the year that I did add today was a very handsome male Black-throated Blue Warbler that I stumbled across on Stafford Avenue. That road will be our second stop Saturday during the World Series of Birding, but I better re-memorize its song because we rarely stop to actually look along that stretch.

After my long walk and a coffee stop at Wawa I was about to go home when I remembered that someone had listed a spot nearby that he called Oxycocus Bog, which is accessed, fittingly, at the end of Oxycocus Road, less that 5 minutes from the Wawa. I just like the word "Oxycocus." It sounds like a bone in your body: "I'm sorry Mr. Zirlin, but you seem to have broken your oxycocus."

I drove over there and found that the area is yet another of Forsythe's parcels of protected land which from Galloway in the south all the way up the coast to Brick. This is great that they have all these different habitats tucked away and left pretty much in their natural state, with only the rudest of paths cut through.

Walking through the woods I found nothing that I hadn't seen before, but some birds that I enjoy finding like a Blue-headed Vireo and an actual sighting of an Ovenbird. But the most interesting sight of the day--and it's one of the things I love most about birding is that you almost always find something you've never seen before--was seeing a couple of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers going in and out of a nest they were building. I don't actively seek out nests--finding the birds is hard enough for me--but occasionally I get lucky and find one. The Cornell All About Birds website says that their nests (which they may build up to 7 of in a season) look like tree knots and I suppose this one bears a resemblance. It seems like quite an edifice for such a tiny bird to build out of spiderwebs, grass, and spit.

My Manahawkin List: 46 species in 3 1/2 hours. I feel like I'm a slow birder, that I should have more species per hour. Maybe it is because I insist on walking so much instead of driving from spot to spot.
Canada Goose  9
Mute Swan  15     with cygnets
Mallard  6
Great Egret  10
Snowy Egret  2
Glossy Ibis  70
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  3
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  4
Semipalmated Sandpiper  2
Laughing Gull  2
Herring Gull  15
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Caspian Tern  1
Forster's Tern  5
Mourning Dove  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  2
Merlin  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1     Heard
White-eyed Vireo  2
Fish Crow  5
Tree Swallow  6
Barn Swallow  2
Carolina Chickadee  2
Marsh Wren  1     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Wood Thrush  8
American Robin  3
Gray Catbird  20
Ovenbird  8     Heard
Common Yellowthroat  15
Yellow Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler  1
Seaside Sparrow  2     Heard
White-crowned Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  2
Eastern Towhee  3
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Brown-headed Cowbird  1

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