Monday, February 27, 2017

Colliers Mills 2/27--Northern Bobwhite, Brown Thrasher

Nicely camouflaged Northern Bobwhite in undergrowth. 
I've been going to Colliers Mills frequently this month. Hunting season is over, it's fairly close, and it is a good long walk through varying, interesting habitat. I mix up the route a little each time, sometimes exploring one area a little more than usual, which was what I was doing this morning, walking along the west side of Colliers Mills Lake (a misnomer, since it is smaller than Turnmill Pond to which it feeds through a little a stream) where I found the brush very active with sparrows and my first year bird of the day, a Brown Thrasher, a virtual giant among the sparrows. I also added in that section Eastern Towhee as county bird and as a sighted bird for the year, since first one this year was listed based on a couple of loud 'chwinks' coming from the woods at Brig.

My second year bird of the day is a little more controversial. According to the received wisdom, Northern Bobwhite has been extirpated from New Jersey, and aside from a small population from Georgia that has been introduced onto a farm in Burlington County, the birds you see have been released (for hunting) and are not really wild. However, here is my rationale for counting the bird I stumbled across on a path off Success Road:

1) Bobwhites have not been permitted to be released at Colliers Mills for a few years now. There are only two places in New Jersey where you can still hunt released birds and those two places are a distance from Colliers. Since they have restricted hunting of the bird in most places, doesn't that imply that there are still wild birds afoot? Besides, if this bird has survived the hunting (for pheasants and Chukar--which by the way, I don't count when I see them there) and dog training, then it is wild enough for me.

2) In the past I have seen a hen followed by half-grown chicks at Colliers Mills, which indicates breeding (one of the requirements for countability). For all I know, this bird was born at Colliers Mills from birds that survived their release.

3) Hey, it's my list.

Besides the west side of the lake, I walked up Success Road to the path where I found the Bobwhite, strolled by the back of the shooting range where I encountered 3 Killdeer, but not interesting woodpeckers, walked along the berm behind Turnmill Pond then over to Hawkin Road with a couple of hard to explain if you haven't been there detours, then north on Hawkin Road back to the car.

With all that I came up with 27 species, not counting the two domestic ducks that have made themselves at home near the parking lot, where I've seen at least one guy leave them food. He likes to pet the white duck.

Canada Goose 20
American Black Duck 4 Turnmill Pond
Mallard 2 one on lake, one on Turnmill Pond
Mallard (Domestic type) 2
Ring-necked Duck 18
Lesser Scaup 1 Lake. Wasn't associating with RNDU
Northern Bobwhite 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Turkey Vulture 4
Bald Eagle 1 Came out of trees by lake, flew toward power line cut
Killdeer 3 Behind shooting range
Mourning Dove 3
Belted Kingfisher 1 Lake
Red-bellied Woodpecker 6
Blue Jay 14
Fish Crow 40
Carolina Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Carolina Wren 1 Heard
Eastern Bluebird 6 Scattered around.
Brown Thrasher 1
Dark-eyed Junco 12
White-throated Sparrow 11
Song Sparrow 1
Eastern Towhee 1
Red-winged Blackbird 8
American Goldfinch 1

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