Sunday, May 7, 2017

WSB @ Brig 5/6--Virginia Rail, Worm-eating Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole
This year, for the World Series of Birding, Pete's team, of which I am a member, did a Big Day at Brig instead of our usual wandering around Ocean County. It was a kind of dress rehearsal to see if it would be feasible to do it next year with participants and raise some money for NJ Audubon. This year, we were one our own, but still raised a couple of hundred bucks for the organization through donations.

Four trips around the dikes, three trips to the Gull Pond, a few rides down to Scott's Landing and Leeds Point and four stops at Wawa (or was it five?) yielded 115 species for the team, of which I managed to get 110.

We started around 5:15 driving up the road to Scott's Landing, which was silent. Our first recorded bird of the day was hearing American Robin. At the entrance ponds to Brig we heard our first Chuck-Will's-Widow. And then the birds started to come, not in a rush, but very methodically. Looking back, it never seemed like we were ticking off birds in big clumps, so it never seemed like we were getting a lot of birds. They just added up. I think we had 80 species before we ever got onto dikes.

The first year bird for me was, I believe, an Orchard Oriole that Mike & I heard on one the trails in the woods. Later, we were able to get visual sightings of this handsome icterid. We didn't know it, but my second bird was a Northern Waterthrush that we heard when we walked up to the Exit Ponds. We heard a warbler singing, Mike thought it was a waterthrush, but it the song didn't quite match any recordings on my phone. Later, when we passed the area with Pete in the car, he confirmed that it was indeed a NOWA. We also heard a repetitive song that was not a Pine Warbler (not "musical") or Chipping Sparrow (not machine-like), but instead turned out to be the insect-like song of a Worm-eating Warbler (which I think supersedes "Yellow-bellied Sapsucker" as the great, all-time bird moniker).

Black-headed Gull
My fourth year bird came on our third trip around the dikes when we stopped on the north dike just before the road enters the woods and we were able to hear the clicking of a Virginia Rail. Our supposed rarities included the continuing Black-headed Gull (it which started to get its hood, interesting to watch this bird molt over the months) a couple of Stilt Sandpipers, a lingering Northern Pintail, and a Common Raven flying over one of the marshes.

We listened for nightjars and owls at the end of the day, but only came up with three very loud chucks. By 8:40, we were done, so there are no owls on our list. Which, I think, only makes the count the more remarkable. Winds were blustery all day and kept our warbler count down (apparently, there wasn't much migration overnight) and we didn't record a couple of common birds like Belted Kingfisher and White-breasted Nuthatch, so I think our numbers could improve under different conditions.
110 species
Snow Goose 2 Both birds injured.
Brant 100
Canada Goose 75
Mute Swan 2
Wood Duck 4
American Black Duck 15
Mallard 10
Blue-winged Teal 4
Northern Pintail 1 From north dike
Green-winged Teal 8
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Ruddy Duck 5
Wild Turkey 2 Heard, one near Noyes, one at overlook
Double-crested Cormorant 50
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 10
Snowy Egret 20
Glossy Ibis 10
Black Vulture 1
Turkey Vulture 2
Osprey 10
Northern Harrier 2
Bald Eagle 2
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Clapper Rail 7
Virginia Rail 1 Heard, north dike
American Oystercatcher 6
Black-bellied Plover 20
Semipalmated Plover 40
Whimbrel 100
Ruddy Turnstone 2
Stilt Sandpiper 2 In pool near observation tower on south dike.
Dunlin 500
Least Sandpiper 100
White-rumped Sandpiper 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper 1000
Short-billed Dowitcher 100
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Greater Yellowlegs 25
Willet 50
Lesser Yellowlegs 5
Black-headed Gull 1 Continuing.
Laughing Gull 10
Ring-billed Gull 3
Herring Gull 50
Great Black-backed Gull 3
Least Tern 1
Gull-billed Tern 18
Caspian Tern 2
Forster's Tern 25
Black Skimmer 20
Mourning Dove 5
Chuck-will's-widow 4 Heard
Chimney Swift 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2 Heard
Downy Woodpecker 1 Heard
Northern Flicker 1 Heard
Merlin 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Eastern Phoebe 1 Heard
Great Crested Flycatcher 5
Eastern Kingbird 4
White-eyed Vireo 2 Heard
Red-eyed Vireo 1 Heard
Blue Jay 2 Heard
American Crow 1 Heard
Fish Crow 5
Common Raven 1 Very large corvid, wedge shaped tail
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2
Purple Martin 10
Tree Swallow 25
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 20
Carolina Chickadee 2 Heard
Tufted Titmouse 4
House Wren 2 Heard
Marsh Wren 2 Heard
Carolina Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4 Heard
Eastern Bluebird 1
Wood Thrush 2 Heard
American Robin 10
Gray Catbird 20
Brown Thrasher 1 Heard, upland section
Northern Mockingbird 2
European Starling 10
Ovenbird 1 Heard
Worm-eating Warbler 1 Heard, near exit ponds
Northern Waterthrush 1 Heard, near exit ponds
Black-and-white Warbler 1 Heard
Common Yellowthroat 15
Yellow Warbler
10 Heard
Pine Warbler 5 Heard
Seaside Sparrow 5
Chipping Sparrow 5
Field Sparrow 2 Heard
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 2
Swamp Sparrow 1 Heard
Eastern Towhee 10 Heard
Northern Cardinal 5
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Common Grackle 1
Boat-tailed Grackle 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Orchard Oriole 4 upland section
House Finch 1
American Goldfinch 2
House Sparrow 1 Heard

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