Thursday, May 11, 2017

Middlesex County 5/11--Swainson's Thrush, Nashville Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Scarlet Tanager

Once a year I like to go up to Middlesex County for Scott's trip to two parks in Woodbridge (my old hometown): William Warren CP and the Oros Preserve. Both these spots have birds that hard to find down in Ocean County.

The day began well with a brilliant Scarlet Tanager in the parking lot of William Warren. The birding, for me, immediately slowed down after that. There were a number of birds being called out, but my birding by ear skills diminish when I'm in a crowd of people, so I had to let a few warblers go unlisted. I did manage to get decent looks at a Nashville Warbler and I was able to hear, at least, the distinctive warble of the Black-throated Green Warbler. With a Swainson's Thrush at the end of the trip, that made for a decent number of year birds. Seeing a Baltimore Oriole building its pendulous next was something I'd never experienced before.

Then it was on to the Oros Preserve, about 3 miles away to the north. This is an ongoing reclamation project of a once phragmite-choked marsh. It is almost unrecognizable from the first time I visited it 3 or 4 years ago. I wish I'd known about this place back in 2011 when I spent 3 months in Iselin, caring for my parents. It would have been a great place to unwind.

Downy Woodpecker
There weren't too many warblers there but the two I did see were new for the year: Cape May Warbler (that's a hard bird for me) and Blackpoll Warbler. Least Sandpipers picking in the mud were a surprise (and the first ones I've seen in the county); but again, nest-building was the highlight here again, this time we watched a Downy Woodpecker (oblivious to its audience) excavate a hole in a dead tree. He was really working it and spitting sawdust in copious quantities.

Woodpeckers are the house builders of the woods. They use their home for one season, then other birds, like chickadees and nuthatches move in the next year. They do a little redecorating, but the home is already there.

I was hoping for more warblers and some new flycatchers, but, as there always seems to be when I'm out during migration, there is a "blocking front" keeping most of the birds south of here. The winds are wrong. About once a season, it seems, you get the big "fallout" of birds and the rest of the time you grouse. What I've never understood, though, is why the birds that were here are no longer around--the wrong direction winds don't seem to prevent them from migrating further north. Another conundrum.

William Warren CP
24 species
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Heard
Great Crested Flycatcher 1 Heard
Warbling Vireo 1 Heard
Red-eyed Vireo 4
Blue Jay 2
Fish Crow 1
Tufted Titmouse 2
Carolina Wren 1 Heard
Swainson's Thrush 1
American Robin 5
Gray Catbird 4
European Starling 3
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Nashville Warbler 1
Magnolia Warbler 1 Heard
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 1 Heard
Scarlet Tanager 1 parking lot
Northern Cardinal 1 Heard
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Common Grackle 1
Baltimore Oriole 3 scattered around
American Goldfinch 1 Heard
House Sparrow 1

Oros Preserve
23 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose 20 with goslings
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Least Sandpiper 8
gull sp. 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Downy Woodpecker 2 excavating nest
Great Crested Flycatcher 2 Heard
Warbling Vireo 2
Tree Swallow 10
House Wren 1 Heard
Carolina Wren 1 Heard
Veery 1
Swainson's Thrush 1
American Robin 10
Gray Catbird 3
European Starling 1
Cape May Warbler 1 singing
Blackpoll Warbler 1 not singing
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Orchard Oriole 2 in same tree--paired up?
Baltimore Oriole 1
American Goldfinch 3

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