Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Double Trouble SP & the Cranberry Bogs 4/12--Broad-winged Hawk, White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo, Double Trouble SP
A couple of years ago, Greg found a Louisiana Waterthrush along the stream that runs out of the reservoir at Double Trouble. Last year I found one at the dam of the reservoir. So, naturally, birders being superstitious, I've been looking along that stream for the last week or so, with, of course, no results.

Bald Eagle, Double Trouble SP
Today, I started behind the sawmill, which is often a very birdy spot. Today it was "meh." There were some birds there, but nothing to get your heart racing. I then walked up to the reservoir, looking for the warbler, or any warbler for that matter. I was at the reservoir, where there were a few Tree Swallows, a Pied-billed Grebe and a Bald Eagle sitting in its usual place on a power line tower when I got an alert (these alerts will probably be the death of me) that there were Rusty Blackbirds in the park. Where? Where I had just come from, of course! And here I am, looking at yet another Bald Eagle!

It is probably a good quarter mile back to the sawmill and I hustled back there, but despite her best efforts, my friend who'd posted couldn't keep the birds in place. We searched around for a while but they were deep into the reeds and leaf litter. Rusties wouldn't be a year bird for me, but they're first of all a diminishing species and secondly, a relatively hard bird for the county.

However, as we walked along the road looking into the wet woods from different angles we heard the ridiculous song of the White-eyed Vireo which can be transliterated as "Pick up the BEER check." It didn't take us long to locate the bird which was apparently staking a rather larger territory as it flew along with us as we walked from near the bridge over to Cedar Creek (where it looks like Barn Swallows may nest again) to the Sandy-damaged white cedar area. Always good to pick up a year bird. Two days ago it would have been an eBird rarity. Today: likely.

Fox Sparrow, Double Trouble SP
There was a rarity there today, though. While we were searching for the rusties, D. saw a Fox Sparrow on the bank of the channel. First impression was a Hermit Thrush, but even I, getting a very quick look at it, knew, from the bold striping and coloration, that it was a Fox. A couple of weeks ago Fox Sparrows were everywhere in NJ and Jerseybirds had a "me too" thread going with everyone noting the Fox Sparrows in their yards. Now, they're all supposed to have move north. I wasn't even going to list the Fox Sparrow because I didn't have a picture of it and my look was so brief, but, as we were walking back to the sawmill, it appeared on the road, 30 feet in front of us. Though it quickly dove into the undergrowth, I was able to get a couple of pictures to prove what we'd seen. I suspect the pictures taken by D. and L. (who we bumped into) are better; they couldn't be worse.

My DT list:
27 species
Mallard 2
Pied-billed Grebe 1 Reservoir
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 1
Bald Eagle 1 On power line tower. Seem to roost there often of late
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Heard
Downy Woodpecker 1 Heard
Northern Flicker 2
Eastern Phoebe 2
White-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay 1 Heard
Fish Crow 2
Tree Swallow 4
Barn Swallow 4
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 5
Carolina Wren 1 Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
American Robin 1
Common Yellowthroat 1 Heard behind sawmill
Pine Warbler 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
Chipping Sparrow 2
Fox Sparrow 1
Eastern Towhee 2 Village
Northern Cardinal 5

My original plan was to just look along the stream for the waterthrush and then go over to the cranberry bogs on Dover Road to see what state the bogs were in. I spent more time at Double Trouble than I planned (not complaining) but by the time I got to the bogs I didn't think it would be worth looking in the woods for any warblers. The bogs have a lot of water in them. Technically, this is the unimproved section of Double Trouble. I don't know who controls the water in the bogs there, or what the rationale for moving the water around is. Sometimes a few of the bogs are very low and become good habitat for shorebirds. The bogs also attract just about every type of heron in the area. Today, there were only Great Egrets to be found and a single Killdeer.

Merlin (top) Common Grackle (bottom), Cranberry Bogs
It was raptors that got my attention there, which is unusual. I found a Northern Harrier making a sweep over the bogs, and in the dead trees of the reservoir a Merlin was in a spot where I often them. A Common Grackle was right below--no fear there, since the grackle is too big to be eaten by a falcon. As is a Fish Crow which displaced the little guy.

The raptor I wish I'd got a picture of though was just about the last bird I found. I was looking at the sand pit, which always seems to me to be a perfect place for Bank Swallows to nest (but they don't) when I saw a hawk overhead. My first reaction was a juvenile eagle but it was all wrong for that and I quickly dismissed Red-tail. Looking at the bird's shape and markings I realized it was a Broad-winged Hawk and then remembered that one had been reported yesterday over at Double Trouble. Looking at the picture of that one that was on eBird, I was pretty confident that I had the same bird. Or one very much like it. It was good to get a close, albeit brief, look at one. Usually, you see them 2000 feet up at a hawk watch in a kettle and I get tired of trying to separate the hawks from the floaters. As it was, I had to keep blinking my eyes right after I saw this hawk to get my eyes back in sync.

So two year birds for the day, neither of which I really had in mind when I started out.
My Cranberry Bogs list:
26 species
Canada Goose 1
American Black Duck 2
Mallard 5
Green-winged Teal 2 back bog
Great Egret 5
Turkey Vulture 3
Northern Harrier 1
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Killdeer 1
Mourning Dove 5
Merlin 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Blue Jay 1
Fish Crow 2
Tree Swallow 25
Carolina Chickadee 2 Heard
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Brown Thrasher 1 Near abandoned buildings. Singing.
Pine Warbler 1 Heard
Chipping Sparrow 2 Heard
Field Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 2 Heard
Eastern Towhee 2 Heard
Northern Cardinal 1 Heard
Red-winged Blackbird 6
Common Grackle 3

Brown Thrasher, Cranberry Bogs

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