Monday, October 22, 2007

October 21 - Sandy Hook sparrow hunt

With hopes of seeing the rare Henslow's sparrow a large group of birders assembled in the northernmost parking lot at Sandy Hook this morning. This bird is very elusive as it prefers to stay in thick grasses and does not fly too much. Unfortunately we did not have any luck with this rare bird today, nor any "rare"sparrows for that matter. However the day was still very productive, and full of time with friends.

At dawn I birded the Plum Island section of the Hook with John W. Together we looked for, and ultimately found, nice views of the Nelson's Sharp-Tailed Sparrow as well as the Saltmarsh Sharp-Tailed Sparrow. I also saw extremely brief views of a Seaside Sparrow as it flew away from me.

Unquestionably the highlight of the day was a Short-Eared Owl that was spotted just north of the Salt Ponds !

October 20 - Warren Green Acres again

With only a few hours free today I once again made a stop here. Also known as Glenhurst Meadows, this place is probably nice all year round, but I only visit in late Fall for the sparrow show.

Today did not disappoint either. I had a Vesper Sparrow in the rear of the park, along the river's edge. The bird had just awoken and was preening on a pile of logs. This gave me a great chance to repeatedly view the white outer tail feathers of this bird.

Unfortunately I missed the Clay-Colored Sparrows that was reported by Jonathan K.
Oh well, thankfully I saw this species here last weekend.

Similar species to last weekend's visit were seen here today, but much less numbers of birds and less diversity of non-sparrows too.

Along with the Vesper I enjoyed views of Song, Swamp, Savannah (most numerous species today), Field, Lincoln's, White-Throated, White-Crowned, Towhee, and Junco.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 16 - Overpeck Park stables

This morning I stopped here briefly before work. The highlights would be the Blue Grosbeak, and a pair of Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers.

Sparrows seen were: Song, Swamp, White-Throated, White-Crowned, Lincoln's, Chipping, Field, and Towhee. Hermit Thrush and Golden-Crowned Kinglets were also viewed today.
A non-birding highlight was the Red Fox seen at very close range before he noticed me.

Finally when arriving at work I saw a Common Raven.

This species nests along the Palisades cliffs, and often resorts to dumpster-diving at the diner that is two doors south of my workplace.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

October 14 - Sandy Hook

An early start here at dawn today as I was looking for the Nelson's Sharp-Tailed Sparrows that are typically found on Plum Island. Not only were the birds seen but I also ran into Tommy B., one of the Hook regulars and sparrow hunter extraordinaire.

Here is the wonderfully-colored Nelson's ST Sparrow:
Next we went to K-Lot and before long had found a Grasshopper Sparrow, followed by another!
Also in this lot today was Vesper Sparrow, Field Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, along with Song, Swamp & Savannah Sparrows.

Near Gunnison Lot the group found a female Blue Grosbeak, and I was eventually able to get nice views of the bird. And it was a new bird for me to be seen at Sandy Hook.

Shortly afterwards we heard, and had brief flyover views of a Pine Siskin, which was another first for me at the Hook.

At North Pond we saw a Northern Shoeveler, and checking my records later I realized that this was the first time I had seen this species here.

Later at the Salt Ponds we flushed Rusty Blackbird, which is uncommon on this barrier island.
You guessed it, yet another new Hook bird bringing today's total to 4, and my lifetime list here up to 217 !.

Tomorrow morning should be another good day, and I'll squeeze in some birding before work.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

October 13 - Warren Twp. Green Acres

With the first major cold front of the fall passing through yesterday I knew the birding would be good today. The problem was I didn't have enough time!
So with the few hours I had I decided to bird at Warren townships Green Acres site. This former golf-course has laid fallow for decades now, and is one of the best migrant sparrow spots in the northern half of the state.

There were 10 species of sparrows seen today, with the highlight being another Clay-Colored Sparrow. Others seen were Song, Swamp, Savannah, White-Throated, White-Crowned, Chipping, Field, Lincoln's, and House.

Here is the regal White-Crowned Sparrow:

There was a warbler I hoped would be the Orange-Crowned species, but the white undertail coverts revealed this bird to be a Tennessee Warbler. Also seen were Nashville, Yellow-Rumped, Black-throated Green, Palm (both eastern and western races) and Yellowthroat warblers.

Several Purple Finches were seen, including the beautiful males.

Also a late Swainson's Thrush was also seen. Both Ruby-Crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets were seen along with the resident Bluebirds. A pair of Kestrel were seen, along with both accipiters of Sharp-Shinned and Cooper's hawks.

Tomorrow promises to be very good too, and I have the full day to soak up the fall migration.

October 6 - Cape May State Park & Meadows

After dipping on the Calliope Hummingbird in the nearby town of Woodbine, we decided to make a stop at the Cape May Hawk watch. to our surprise we saw a juvenile Ruff at Bunker Pond. This eurasian species is more likely to be seen in April during spring migration, or early fall migration during August!
credit: K. Lukens

Other shorebirds seen here were Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, and Killdeer.

Also around the hawkwatch were Peregrine Falcons, Kestrel, Osprey, black & Turkey Vultures, Sharp-Shinned 7 Cooper's Hawks, Broad-Winged Hawk, Black Skimmers.

At the Meadows we had waterfowl of the most blue-winged Teal I have ever seen, with 4-dozen plus, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Pied-Billed Grebe, Wigeon, Pintail, Green-Winged Teal, and a Common Loon in the surf.