Saturday, April 1, 2017

Great Swamp NWR 4/1--Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird, Great Swamp NWR
Photo: Mike Mandracchia
Having dried out from yesterday's soaker, Mike & I went out again today, this time heading north. For the record, we did not play any April Fools jokes on each other.

We went to the Great Swamp with two birds in mind and with a little work got them both: A few Rusty Blackbirds (one of those birds on its way out until winter rolls around again), and Black-capped Chickadee, a bird that rarely crosses south of 1-195 and one that, while I had it for the year, was not on my Jersey list.

Mike found a rusty pretty quickly in a flock of distant icterids at the visitor's center, using the scope of another birder, but, while I saw the bird he was talking about, all it was to me was a dark bird. The lack of epaulets was not enough for me and I couldn't see its pale iris, so I wasn't going to count that one. However, soon enough we found a small flock of blackbirds on the ground and one was close enough for me to see its eye and shape. Mike managed to get a decent photograph of it despite it foraging behind some stalks of vegetation.

The chickadee we heard a little while later, a much slower call, than our Carolinas. Later, at Schermann-Hoffman, we saw a couple at the feeders--they seem to me cleaner and brighter than our southern chickadees and in size, despite being only a 1/2" bigger, they are comparative bruisers.

Then we decided to start working our way south, but first we made a stop in Franklin Township, hoping to get the Sandhill Cranes that have been hanging out there for years. This must have been my 5th or 6th try for those cranes and I'm still batting zero. Those cranes are the reason Shari & I found the lapwings 4 years ago--I was so sick of driving up to Somerset County to look for them that we drove to New Egypt where a couple were reported and stumbled upon the lapwings instead. (And eventually the cranes did fly in; New Egypt is the only place in NJ I've ever seen them.) We did, however see a beautiful little American Kestrel hovering right beside the car.

After that we headed to the coast, working our way down south from South Amboy, where the Northern Gannets were putting on a beautiful show, glowing white in the sky, down to Lake of the Lilies in our home county with stops at most of the little lakes, ponds, and ocean overlooks in between. For the day we came up with 67 species birding 5 counties, not a bad way to start the month.
Species             First Sighting
Brant   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Canada Goose   GSP MM 88
Mute Swan   Lake Takanassee
Wood Duck   Great Swamp NWR
Gadwall   Manasquan
American Black Duck   Great Swamp NWR
Mallard   GSP MM 88
Northern Shoveler   Silver Lake and Ferruggiaro Park
Green-winged Teal   Great Swamp NWR
Ring-necked Duck   Great Swamp NWR
Greater Scaup   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Lesser Scaup   Silver Lake and Ferruggiaro Park
Black Scoter   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Bufflehead   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Hooded Merganser   Great Swamp NWR
Red-breasted Merganser   Allenhurst
Ruddy Duck   Silver Lake and Ferruggiaro Park
Common Loon   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Pied-billed Grebe   Silver Lake and Ferruggiaro Park
Horned Grebe   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Northern Gannet   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Double-crested Cormorant   Sylvan Lake
Great Blue Heron   Great Swamp NWR
Great Egret   Wreck Pond
Black Vulture   Great Swamp NWR
Turkey Vulture   Great Swamp NWR
Osprey   Osborn Pond
Red-shouldered Hawk   Great Swamp NWR
Red-tailed Hawk   Osborn Pond
American Coot   Lake Takanassee
Killdeer   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Sanderling   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Greater Yellowlegs   GSP MM 88
Laughing Gull   Deal Lake
Ring-billed Gull   Seven Presidents Park
Herring Gull   Raritan Bay Waterfront Park
Great Black-backed Gull   Seven Presidents Park
Mourning Dove   Great Swamp NWR
Red-bellied Woodpecker   Great Swamp NWR
Downy Woodpecker   Great Swamp NWR
Northern Flicker   Great Swamp NWR
American Kestrel   Mettlers Rd.
Eastern Phoebe   Great Swamp NWR
Blue Jay   Great Swamp NWR
American Crow   Great Swamp NWR
Fish Crow   Wawa-Jackson
Carolina Chickadee   35 Sunset Rd
Black-capped Chickadee   Great Swamp NWR
Tufted Titmouse   Great Swamp NWR
White-breasted Nuthatch   Great Swamp NWR
Carolina Wren   Great Swamp NWR
Golden-crowned Kinglet   Great Swamp NWR
Eastern Bluebird   Great Swamp NWR
American Robin  Great Swamp NWR
Northern Mockingbird   Seven Presidents Park
European Starling   Wawa-Jackson
Chipping Sparrow   Great Swamp NWR
Field Sparrow   Great Swamp NWR
Dark-eyed Junco   Great Swamp NWR
Song Sparrow   Great Swamp NWR
Northern Cardinal   Great Swamp NWR
Red-winged Blackbird   Great Swamp NWR
Rusty Blackbird   Great Swamp NWR
Common Grackle   Great Swamp NWR
Brown-headed Cowbird   Great Swamp NWR
House Finch   Seven Presidents Park
House Sparrow   Wawa-Jackson

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