Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Early Arrivals - April 11

New arrivals keep coming in, too many to list them all. However last night I saw a half-dozen Pectoral Sandpipers at Walker Ave in Wayne, along with the continuing Snipe and blue-Winged Teal. To my surprise a Peregrine Falcon (first I've seen here) was hunting the various ducks and shorebirds here.

Today, April 11, I had a very early migrant warbler in the Black-Throated Green Warbler being seen at the Tenafly Nature Center.

With the nice weather this week, more new arrivals are certain...

Spring in N.J.

Back in NJ for some returning birds.
Pine Warbler was seen on March 31 in Tenafly, and that same day I saw an adult-plumaged Little Blue Heron along with numerous Wilson's Snipe. At one point I saw 52 Snipe in one view at the Walker Avenue wetlands in Wayne.
The next day at the same spot I had a Great Egret and a few Blue-winged Teal. Other recent birds are Song, Swamp, Field & Chipping Sparrows, along with both Tree and Rough-Winged Swallows. Lots of Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers are being seen now too.

Cancun, Yucatan Peninsula - late March

A few day visit to the Yucatan Peninsula gave me a chance to see some new birds. A highlight was the Collared-Forest Falcon. Other new birds were Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture, Brown Jay, Yucatan Jay, Yucatan Vireo, several Orioles (Orange, Hooded, & black-Cowled), Ivory-Billed Woodcreeper, Melodious Blackbird, Spot-Breasted Wren and a few others. Also saw alot of birds from the Lower 48 region too, including many Protonotary Warblers, Yellow-Throated Warbler and Black-Whiskered Vireo to list a few.

Overall I saw over 65 species, not bad for a trip where birds were not the focus.

Long-Eared Owl - March 19

This weekend I visited the Hatfield Swamp, found near the Caldwell area. I was lucky to find a few Long-Eared Owls. This area is a great spot for them, as well as, Great Horned Owls & Northern saw-Whet Owls in winter. A non-avian bonus was seeing a Coyote !
Also this week I saw my first Eastern Phoebe of the spring, and the continuing Red-Headed Woodpecker at Garret Mountain in the Paterson area.
Next week, I'm off to Mexico - but not for a bird-watching trip, although I'm sure to see some birds I've not seen before.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spring Fever - March 11/12

A warm weekend opened up the frozen water, and the southerly winds brought up some early migrants. Saturday at the Celery Farm in Allendale had numerous Wood Duck, Tree Swallow, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Fox Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, and Eastern Screech-Owl & a flyover Killdeer.
Then on Sunday, the Salem County spot of Money Island Road has several species of Sparrow: Song, Swamp, Savannah, Fox, White-Throat, and the beautiful White-Crowned.
Also seen were Eastern Towhee, Brown Thrasher, 2 Bald Eagles, Kestrel, and my first Osprey of the year. Also made a quick re-visit to see the Brewer's Blackbirds !
We'll have a cold snap soon, but it's inevitable now -- more birds and species are on their way back and will be arriving very soon !

photo credit - Bill Horn

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bullock's Oriole in PA - March 04

Today I was able to observe a probable female Bullock's Oriole that has been in Bethlehem, PA since the first of the year. If accepted, it would be the 3rd record for PA.
Because the Bullock's hybridizes with the Baltimore (Northern) Oriole in Kansas, this bird's classification will be determined by the PA Records Committee. Here is a set of 47 images of the bird in question. And here is a set of 3 more images.
The bird appears to be getting brighter, and the eye line appeared stonger to me than it does in the photos.
Oh well, time will tell if it is countable in PA. If so, it would be a life-bird for me.

Today also included a return visit to Northern NJ for the Iceland & Glaucous Gulls at the Sussex Landfill in Lafayette, as well as, the Northern Shrike that continues in Layton, NJ.
Also seen today were adult Bald Eagle, Harrier, thousands of Snow Geese, Horned Larks, and thousands of blackbirds coming back North. On Sunday there were 4 migrant Black Vultures over my house in Northern NJ. Spring is not far off !!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Salem County - February 19th

Today was spent in Salem County looking for, and thankfully finding, the seven Brewer's Blackbirds that were found recently. This sighting represents a State-record for myself. And it was a life-bird for one of the birders that I was with !
You can see from the range map that these birds do not make it into NJ that often. They are not seen annually, and I had unsuccessfully searched for them the last time, which was in 2004.
This species is superfically similar to the larger Common Grackle, as well as, the Rusty Blackbird who typically haunts swampy areas but is rapidly declining.

Other birds seen in the area were 4 Bald Eagles, Kestrel, Merlin, Black Vultures, Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers. At the Sod Farms in the area we also saw a Killdeer, hundreds of horned Larks, and several Snow Buntings, including the first one that I have seen in near full breeding plumage ! Unfortunately I again missed seeing Laplang Longspur which is being seen in the area.
Thousands of Red-Winged Blackbirds were around, no doubt staging for their soon-to-be assault on the northern areas once the weather turns warmer over the next 30 days or so.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Western New Jersey - February 11th

This weekend I made a few stops in Western New Jersey. First up was Round Valley Reservoir for the pair of Red-Necked Grebes. Afterwards I visited Merrill Creek Reservoir where there were approximately 40,000 Snow Geese !! Also seen here were 4 Redheads (as in ducks!), 3 Pied-Billed Grebes, Common Goldeneye & a pair of nesting Bald Eagles. Some Eastern Bluebirds were seen on the ride in. My last stop this day was Oberly Road in the Alpha Grassands area. I saw, and heard, several Horned Larks but could not locate any Longspurs nor Snow Buntings. A Northern Harrier was coursing the fields in search of prey. Numerous Savannah Sparrows were about, and to my surprise I also observed a Vesper Sparrow. This central US bird appears in NJ during migration, and rarely over-winter in the State. I had fine looks at the bird thru my scope at very close range, and saw the outer white tail-feathers on the occasions that the bird took flight.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sussex Landfill - February 4, 2006

Today I had a nice visit to a Landfill. I'm serious !
That's where you go to see interesting winter Gulls. The aesthetics are missing, but seeing a few Iceland Gulls and the rarer Glaucous Gull is a treat only found in winter where this reliable food source is available to the birds. Surprisingly I did not see Black Vultures !

Later in the morning I was able to see an Eastern Bluebird, and another winter-only visitor in the Northern Shrike. This is the 3rd or 4th year consecutive year that this Shrike has appeared in Layton, NJ.

Montauk Point - February 5, 2006

Today was a long trip, but the result was very close looks at a great number of birds. Most ocean birding trips do not provide fora great number of species, but you do get great quantities of fewer species. And that is the case with Montauk Point & Barneget Light.

I saw the most White-Winged Scoters I've ever seen in one place. and the birds were actively flying about providing for great looks. In addition to all 3 Scoter species the other species seen were Great Cormorant, Common & Red-Throated Loons, numerous Common & a pair of (female) King Eiders, Oldsquaw, Razorbill, Red-Breasted Mergansers, Brant, Purple Sandpipers and Horned Grebe. Unfortunately specialties like Murre, Kittiwake or Guillemot were not seen today.

Some local ponds on the way back home had Redhead, Canvasback, Northen Shovelers etc.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Coastal NJ - January 2nd

(Common Eider photo by Tim Brown)

I visited Brigantine NWR yesterday and saw some great birds. Notable were several Tundra Swans, Common Goldeneye, Great Egret (!), Rough-Legged Hawk, Saltmarsh Sharp-Tailed Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlarks, and several dozen Horned Grebes. Overall 58 species were seen here.
Following that I stopped at Barnegat Lighthouse and saw numerous Common Eider (pictured above) and a single female King Eider. Also seen were Harlequin Ducks, White-Winged Scoter, Long-Tailed Ducks in the 100's, Great Cormorants, Red-Throated Loons, and Purple Sandpipers along the jetty.
Overall a great day, I just needed more daylight to bird even more!