Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lakehurst NAES 6/9--Common Nighthawk

Landscape with Pete
(Jump circle at Lakehurst)
A somewhat disappointing, very windy day at the Lakehurst base, mostly because the main target bird, Upland Sandpiper, was not showing, though Shari's keener ears did hear one half of the wolf whistle call. Since this is the last scheduled trip to the base and since Lakehurst is really the only place in the state where I have a realistic chance of seeing uppies, it looks like that is one species that will be a lacunae in my year list. In my 6 trips to Lakehurst since 2012, this is the first time I've missed the species. A lot of disconsolate faces today out at the jump circle, especially those for whom the bird would be a lifer. Theories, abound, particularly since they were very active on a trip yesterday: too windy, too much helicopter activity, not warm enough, not enough helicopter activity...whatever the reason (& the reason is probably just bad luck) we left without our uppy fix.

I did learn, though, why you can't find uppies at nearby Colliers Mills, which, to my eye, has the same habitat--large swaths of grasslands. The swaths aren't large enough. The jump circle at Lakehurst is 300 acres of unbroken grassland. I don't know what it is at Colliers Mills, but the fields there, large as they are, are broken up by lines of trees and berms, so the fields don't contain enough territory for the birds to breed. They want a lot of room

Consolation prize for the day was a decent look at a Common Nighthawk chasing a Red-tailed Hawk that was probably perilously close, in the nighthawk's mind, to its nest. A very close look at a singing Eastern Meadowlark (county bird) also helped pass the time while we waited for Godot.

Shari also heard the little buzz of a Grasshopper Sparrow for her year list. Everyone else there was more interested in "groppers" than me--a walk along Success Road at Colliers will usually turn up one or two or three.

My list consisted of 24 species. They were:
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  6
Osprey  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  1
Rock Pigeon 4
Mourning Dove  1
Common Nighthawk  1
Chimney Swift  2
American Kestrel  2
Willow Flycatcher  1     Heard
Eastern Kingbird  1
American Crow  1
Purple Martin  1
Tree Swallow  5
Barn Swallow  2
American Robin  1     Heard
Gray Catbird  1
Cedar Waxwing  2
Red-winged Blackbird  2
Eastern Meadowlark  1
Common Grackle  1
Brown-headed Cowbird  1

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