Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 19 - Marsh Birds

I woke up without plans and quickly decided to look for some marsh birds.  I headed north to Sussex County and the Vernon Marsh.  Here I took the walk along the railroad tracks for about 1 mile.

 Along the way I saw many species of freshwater marshes like the abundant Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrows Red-Winged Blackbirds, Green Herons, Great-Blue Herons, Gray Catbirds, and Barn Swallows.

Highlights were the 5-6 Least Bitterns that were moving thought the cat-tails, and I also saw a juvenile.  My target bird was heard-only at first but after walking past the spot where the sound came from I caught a glimpse of the Virginia Rail flying across the railroad tracks.  Patience was needed, but it finally paid off as the rail then came out of the grasses for quite a bit and gave me fantastic views for several minutes.   The last time I had seen this species was back in 2007 !!
Here is where I saw the bird.

Later down the tracks the same situation re-occurred, I heard the bird at first and spent 15 minutes waiting for it, I then started walking away and the bird flew across the tracks.  I was also able to see this one but only it's head.
Here is where I stopped walking

I also had a pair of Purple Martins, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, and some other species.

Later at Liberty Loop I heard another Virginia Rail, and also heard a pair of Sora that were calling frequently. However I waited for an hour but the Sora never came out of the marsh for me to view.

July 18 - Mississippi Kite

Today I had to cancel my plans with Bill because my father-in-law had some complications after his surgery of last week, so I had to go down south to the hospital.
After the issues were cleared up I had some time to go another 30 miles south down to Waretown, NJ.  Here a pair of Mississippi Kites have been reported for several weeks.  Fortunately for me at least one of the kites was perched in the tree when I arrived around 12:30.
There I met another birder named Linda who was taking some photos.  After Linda departed the bird took a short flight to catch an insect, so I got to see more than just a perched bird !

Click to enlarge

credit: Linda Woodfield

Afterward a took a brief trip to the Barnegat Division of the Forsythe NWR
Here I saw a Tricolored Heron.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 11 - The Grail Bird

During the afternoon of Friday July 10 there were reports out of Jones Beach that a Red Phalarope was being seen in the ponds near the West End's Teddy Roosevelt Nature Center.  Also this bird was reported to be in breeding plumage !
I had seen hundreds of this species while I was out in California in 2010, with some seen from shore & most others seen while on a pelagic birding boat ride.  However I had never seen the beautiful female in breeding plumage.  I called my friends of Andy and Jennifer to setup a meeting time for the next morning.   We got together at their place around 4:45 am in order to be on the beach just after 6:00.
We had excellent views of this bird for about 90 minutes.

 credit: The Mulberry Wing

credit: Issac Grant

Afterwards we drove to nearby Captree Island and had a brief look at the White-Faced Ibis that had been found by Arie Gilbert earlier this year.

Finally we continued farther east to Connetquot State Park for some fine views of the breeding Yellow-Throated Warblers.  This is a separate subspecies from the Yellow-Throated Warblers that I see in southern NewJersey.

After enduring a 30-minute delay on the George Washington Bridge, we finally made it back to New Jersey where a quick stop at the Richard DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands produced two American White Pelicans, and several Least Terns !

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14 - Cupsogue Beach

Our regular group took the ride out east today to the Suffolk County park of Cupsogue Beach.
Here the targets are Terns, which come to roost on the sandbars of the bay.

Immediately one sees the abundant Common Tern, and with little effort the Black Terns are found.  With some more time we begin to see the less likely tern species of Forster's, along with small numbers of the Least Tern.   However the most exciting species of the day is a toss-up between the Arctic Tern(s) and the Sandwich Tern.   Rounding out the 8 tern species seen today were the Caspian and Roseate species.

Here is an image of Caspian Tern and Sandwich Tern.  click to enlarge:

credit: Bill Hubrick

Other highlights today were Piping Plovers, Whimbrel, and Purple Martin.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

June 6 - High Point State Park

I went for a walk in High Point State Park today, specifically on the Kuser Bog trail.  My goal was the elusive Ruffed Grouse, which remained elusive once again.

I did run into friends of Jason D, Lisa R., and Dave L. so we all did have a nice walk together.

The highlights today were  Pileated Woodpecker, Alder Flycatcher, both Cuckoo species, breeding Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers, and the breeding warblers of Cerulean, Redstart, Blackburnian, and Canada.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30 - Franklin's Gull at Brooklyn's Plumb Beach

The regular crew got together today for a chase out to Brooklyn's Plumb Beach.  The target was a Franklin's Gull which has been seen here for almost a full week.  Fortunately for us the bird continues today, and we were able to see it right-away upon arriving at the east end of the beach where it meets Gerretsen Creek

I had seen this species before, back in November 2011 at Texas' South Padre Island, however those birds were in basic (winter) plumage.  So seeing today's bird in alternate (breeding) plumage was nice!

These images show the white-wing tips of the Franklin's against the dark-tip of the Laughing Gull

All images credit Sean Sime.  you can see more of his excellent photos here

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27 - Little Gull

After work today I headed over to Mill Creek Point Park in Secaucus to try for the Little Gull which has been found earlier in the day by Chris T.  
My patience was tested as upon arriving the bird was not in sight...then lightning immediately began and the skies darkened.  After an intense downpour for 15 minutes I re-emerged from my car, and within moments the Little Gull returned from across the marsh.  I first spotted the gull over by the radio station, which is located in Bergen County and then the bird came into Mill Creek Point Park which is located in Hudson County.

Here are some poor quality images that I digiscoped using my cellphone.

This image captures the black underwing of this species:
click on images to enlarge