Sunday, January 15, 2017

Assunpink WMA 1/15--Wild Turkey, White-crowned Sparrow, Dickcissel, etc

A Jake & a Tom
I did a little experiment before the start of Scott's Assunpink trip. I got there early and walked along the dirt road that hugs the lake. I found mostly White-throated Sparrows, a few cardinals, doves, and one Northern Harrier (which was my 100th species of the year).

This was the 2nd time in this week I walked in this field. Neither time did I find the rarity that was spotted in the sorghum field. Then I walked the road with the group with Scott in the lead. Boom! We weren't on the road 3 minutes before Scott pointed out the Dickcissel teed up on a branch in the back of the field. Dickcissel in spring in NJ is a much sought-after rarity. Dickcissel in NJ in winter is just weird.

We continued along the road, getting a little farther than I had walked, granted, but soon we had White-crowned Sparrows in the field, which was great because they haven't been hanging at their "historical" location this year, a farm driveway on the road into Assunpink. We also had a hen Canvasback on the lake seen from one of the turn offs along the road. Hadn't seen that either when I walked the road alone, though a scope certainly helped. Big flocks of blackbirds and grackles flew overhead. We had a couple of Sharp-shinned Hawks. A Brown Creeper made an appearance (I think I might have found this simultaneously with Scott). So walk alone, find a few birds. Walk with Scott, find many cool birds.

Royal Flush
We walked the fields by the navigation beacon, the two most interesting species there being the two Wild Turkeys at the edge of the road, watching them was a great way to pass the time while standing in line to use the Port-O-San and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker high in a spruce tree. The turkeys were a very large Tom, replete with snood, wattles, and beard, and an immature male, a "Jake." The adult kept displaying for the Jake, I guess to establish dominance, but the Jake seemed unimpressed. A walk up into the Norway Spruce grove really didn't produce much of anything, though owls are always hoped for, but they seem like a low percentage possibility when faced with hundreds of trees in which one could be roosting.

I was there from about 8:45 to 2:30 when we all took off to Etra Lake. In all, I had what I consider a surprisingly large number of species for the day. The controversial Trumpeter Swan was nowhere to be found--only two Mute Swans made a flyby appearance for me before I joined the group.

45 species
Canada Goose  98
Mute Swan  2
American Black Duck  9
Mallard  2
Canvasback  1     Lake
Common Merganser  1     Lake
Ruddy Duck  11
Wild Turkey  2     
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  3
Northern Harrier  1

Sharp-shinned Hawk  2
Cooper's Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  6
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  2
Mourning Dove  22
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Downy Woodpecker  2
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  1
Carolina Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard
Red-breasted Nuthatch  5
White-breasted Nuthatch  1     Heard
Brown Creeper  1
Carolina Wren  2     Heard
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
American Robin  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
European Starling  6
Yellow-rumped Warbler  2
White-crowned Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  30
Song Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  7
Dickcissel  1     
Red-winged Blackbird  100
Common Grackle  250
House Finch  3
House Sparrow  2

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