Friday, April 14, 2017

Cape May & Cumberland Counties 4/14--Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, Pileated Woodpecker, Marsh Wren, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Ocean City Welcome Center
Mike & I birded the spring hot spots of south Jersey today--Belleplain State Forest, Heislerville WMA, and heron rookery at the Ocean City Welcome Center. We left early o we could get down to Belleplain for the warblers and as soon as we pulled into the parking lot we heard our FOY Ovenbird. A good start we figured, but, unlike last year when we heard, oh I would say a couple of hundred all over the forest, we only heard one other. That's probably because this trip was about a week earlier than last year's.

However, it wasn't a bust by any means. At the little dam where there are often Prothonotary Warblers we found a very vocal Louisiana Waterthrush, always a thrill to see and much harder to find than the Northern Waterthrush, for which it is a bit too early. While we turning around on the path we heard what we thought had to be a Northern Flicker, but it didn't sound quite right. Instead, as another birder coming up the trail told us, it was a Pileated Woodpecker that we heard (and that Mike briefly saw flying away), a rarity in south Jersey. We had heard its flight call which is much different than its "song" which inspired the creation of Woody Woodpecker. We spent a couple of hours birding various trails and spots we know, coming up with a decent number of species, but it was as we were driving out that we both heard our last warbler of the day, a Yellow-throated Warbler. Getting out of the car we searched around as it sounded very near and were finally able to get excellent views of the warbler high up in a bare tree. I was also able to make recordings of its song, as I did with the waterthrush, which was fun and compensated for not being able to get any pictures of either of those great-looking birds.

Then it was on up into Cumberland County and the Heislerville WMA impoundments which were full to the brim so not a shorebird was to be found. Instead, we picked up a number of lingering ducks, including a couple of large rafts of Ruddy Ducks, still hanging in there, and admired the rookery where Double-crested Cormorants and Great Egrets nest side by side like a jumble of black & white chess pieces. It was while riding on the dikes that we heard our FOY Marsh Wren in the phragmites.

We made a stop at East Point Lighthouse where we found a couple of Willets (of the eastern subspecies) and a couple of American Oystercatchers. There were a couple of Forster's Terns, but no gulls, common or interesting, which was surprising.

On our way back north we made a stop at the Ocean City Welcome Center on the bridge over the bay. The heron rookery was very active. This is the best place in New Jersey to get close looks and at a lot of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons--my count of 20 was flagged by eBird but 20 was erring on the low side. They were every where you looked and while they weren't sitting on nests yet, they were interacting with each other. I suspect it was males staking out territory--"this is my branch."

So I came home with 6 new year birds and a couple of them are "hard" birds, like the waterthrush and woodpecker. For the two counties we had well over 70 species. The two county day lists follow:

Cape May
Species            Location
Brant   Ocean City Welcome Center
Wild Turkey   Stipson Island Rd.
Double-crested Cormorant   Ocean City Welcome Center
Great Egret   Ocean City Welcome Center
Black-crowned Night-Heron   Ocean City Welcome Center
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron   Ocean City Welcome Center
Black Vulture   Belleplain State Forest
Turkey Vulture   Belleplain State Forest
Osprey   Ocean City Welcome Center
Cooper's Hawk   Belleplain State Forest
Bald Eagle   Belleplain State Forest
American Oystercatcher   Ocean City Welcome Center
Laughing Gull   Belleplain State Forest
Herring Gull   Ocean City Welcome Center
Mourning Dove   Belleplain State Forest
Red-bellied Woodpecker   Belleplain State Forest
Downy Woodpecker   Belleplain State Forest
Northern Flicker   Belleplain State Forest
Pileated Woodpecker   Belleplain State Forest
Eastern Phoebe   Belleplain State Forest
White-eyed Vireo   Belleplain State Forest
American Crow   Belleplain State Forest
Fish Crow   Ocean City Welcome Center
Tree Swallow   Belleplain State Forest
Carolina Chickadee   Belleplain State Forest
Tufted Titmouse   Belleplain State Forest
Carolina Wren   Belleplain State Forest
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher   Belleplain State Forest
Eastern Bluebird   Belleplain State Forest
Hermit Thrush   Belleplain State Forest
American Robin   Belleplain State Forest
Northern Mockingbird   Belleplain State Forest
European Starling   Belleplain State Forest
Ovenbird   Belleplain State Forest
Louisiana Waterthrush   Belleplain State Forest
Black-and-white Warbler   Belleplain State Forest
Palm Warbler   Belleplain State Forest
Pine Warbler   Belleplain State Forest
Yellow-rumped Warbler   Belleplain State Forest
Yellow-throated Warbler   Belleplain State Forest
Chipping Sparrow   Belleplain State Forest
White-throated Sparrow   Belleplain State Forest
Northern Cardinal   Belleplain State Forest
Brown-headed Cowbird   Belleplain State Forest
American Goldfinch   Belleplain State Forest
House Sparrow   Belleplain State Forest
Species             Location
Canada Goose   Heislerville WMA
Mute Swan   Heislerville WMA
Gadwall   Heislerville WMA
American Black Duck   Heislerville WMA
Northern Shoveler   Heislerville WMA
Northern Pintail   Heislerville WMA
Red-breasted Merganser   Heislerville WMA
Ruddy Duck   Heislerville WMA
Common Loon   East Point Lighthouse
Double-crested Cormorant   Heislerville WMA
Great Egret   Heislerville WMA
Snowy Egret   Heislerville WMA
Osprey   Heislerville WMA
Bald Eagle   Heislerville WMA
American Oystercatcher   East Point Lighthouse
Willet   East Point Lighthouse
Laughing Gull   East Point Lighthouse
Herring Gull   Heislerville WMA
Great Black-backed Gull   Heislerville WMA
Forster's Tern   Heislerville WMA
Mourning Dove   East Point Lighthouse
Northern Flicker   East Point Lighthouse
Fish Crow   Heislerville WMA
Barn Swallow   East Point Lighthouse
Carolina Chickadee   Heislerville WMA
Marsh Wren   Heislerville WMA
American Robin   Heislerville WMA
European Starling   East Point Lighthouse
Song Sparrow   East Point Lighthouse
Red-winged Blackbird   Heislerville WMA
Common Grackle   Heislerville WMA
Boat-tailed Grackle   East Point Lighthouse

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