Thursday, June 1, 2017

Great Bay Blvd 6/1--Alder Flycatcher

I've been looking for flycatchers the last few days without much luck--even phoebes have been hard to come by. On Great Bay Blvd this morning I found my first Willow Flycatcher in at least a week. It was at the boat launch before the 2nd wooden bridge. It isn't much of a bird to look at, but its song, rendered as "fitz-bew!" is distinctive and diagnostic. I was glad it was in my head, because about a half hour later, walking the path through the grove of scrubby trees to the inlet I heard a different song, one I would transcribe as "fee-beer!" That sounds like an Alder Flycatcher, which is a rarity for these parts.

Now, once upon a time, because they are so close in looks and habits, Willow and Alder were considered con-specific and know as Traill's Flycatcher.  The only thing that separates the two species, apparently is their song, though I think Alder nests farther north than Willow. So, I heard the song. I played the song on my phone and it matched pretty closely. I still wasn't going to list it, until the bird popped up. A little gray flycatcher that looked indistinguishable from a Willow. It flew up, hawking insects, then disappeared behind the foliage. It did this a few times, all the while called "fee-beer!" I've seen Alder in this type of habitat before in Ocean County--a couple of years ago down at the Bridge to Nowhere--so I wasn't amazed. I reported the bird, but without a recording I doubt it will be accepted. I don't much care about that as I know what I heard. A picture, which I tried to get, wouldn't have helped much anyway.
Tree Swallow outside of nest hole.
As I worked my way south, here are the standout birds to me: A large flock of Black Skimmers on the sand bar by the mitigation bulwark. (I timed my trip for low tide so that there would be mud flats to view) Also there were 11 Ruddy Turnstones.  As soon as I had pulled into the sandy parking lot a Tricolored Heron flew across the channel.

Down at the boat launch there were a lot of peeps across the channel. I managed to pick out one Dunlin with them. I was also interested to see a Tree Swallow just outside a hole in a piling. The last couple of years, swallows have used that hole to nest in and it looks like they will continue to use it this year.

Down at the inlet, beside the Alder Flycatcher, I also had a pewee and kingbird. Seaside Sparrows were abundant and I managed to find two Saltmarsh Sparrows. Not that I care, but it was notable that I saw only two Ospreys. I didn't even realize the dearth of them until a cyclist stopped me, literally, he blocked my way with his bike, so he could inquire if the nest platforms were occupied.

37 species in all as we enter the summer doldrums.
Great Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 20
Snowy Egret 5
Tricolored Heron 1
Glossy Ibis 6
Turkey Vulture 1
Osprey 2
Clapper Rail 2 Heard
American Oystercatcher 1
Semipalmated Plover 1
Ruddy Turnstone 11
Dunlin 1
Least Sandpiper 10 Undercounted
Semipalmated Sandpiper 25
Greater Yellowlegs 1
Willet 8
Laughing Gull 35
Herring Gull 40
Great Black-backed Gull 12
Least Tern 2
Forster's Tern 5
Black Skimmer 51
Mourning Dove 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Alder Flycatcher 1
Willow Flycatcher 2
Eastern Kingbird 1
Tree Swallow 2
Barn Swallow 50
Gray Catbird 1
Common Yellowthroat 6
Yellow Warbler
Saltmarsh Sparrow 2
Seaside Sparrow 15
Song Sparrow 4
Red-winged Blackbird 50
Boat-tailed Grackle 30

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