Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April 24 - Garret Mountain

Today had the promise of lots of new species due to the strong SW winds last night, and a temperature of 67 degrees at 5:30 in the morning !
However at the park it was very windy up top, which leads me to believe the bird were either flying through, or dispersed and will gather in the park later in the day.

Most numerous migrants today appeared to be Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Chipping and White-Throated Sparrows. Still had some nice surprises with newly arriving warblers, but they were mostly singletons. Several house Wrens were seen in the park, and a Marsh Wren as a nice pickup.

Warblers: Pine, Palm, Yellow-Rumped, B&W, Yellow, Hooded, BT Green, Ovenbird, Luigi-anna Waterthrush.

Other birds seen of note were BH Vireo, BG Gnatsmasher, Winter Wren, House Wren, Marsh Wren, Raven, RC Kinglet, Brown Thrasher, E. Towhee, Chipping, Swamp, Song, White-Throat Sparrows, Junco, Green Heron, Red Tail Hawk, Turkey.

Monday, April 23, 2007

April 23 - Cinco de Warblo

With the continuing good weather I made another stop a Garret Mountain before going to work this morning. It was less "birdy" than I hoped for but I did better on new species.
First up was a Black-and-White warbler, truly the vanguard of neo-tropical migrants, this bird signifies the coming onslaught of birds.

Other warblers seen were the Pine, Palm, Yellow-Rumped and Louisiana Waterthrush.

Another first for this year was a Green Heron, and I also saw my first Chimney Swifts also.
There were lots of Chipping Sparrows and Hermit Thrush still around. Woodpeckers included Downy, Hairy & Red-Bellied, plus the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and Northern Flicker.
Blue-Headed Vireo, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Winter Wren, and the Sparrows of Song, Swamp, Chipping, and White-Throated continued as well.

I'll stop there tomorrow as waves of migrants typically last 2-3 days and I feel there are certainly more birds, and maybe more new species, to be seen tomorrow...

April 22 - Garret Mountain

I spent this Sunday at the local hot-spot hoping for some new arrivals with the warm weather. There were a good number of birds, but not the number of species I was hoping for.

Noteworthy today was a group of about 5 Broad-Winged Hawks perched when I arrived. Also there were 3 Ravens cruising over the mountain and their guttaral croaking was heard through the morning. I did get my first Blue-Headed Vireos of the spring, which was nice. Brown Creeper and Winter Wrens continued, but won't be around here much longer.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers (above) continued as well, as did the warblers of Pine, Palm & Yellow-Rumped. A pair of Wood Ducks also flew over the Pond. Cedar Waxwings also made an appearance. Hermit Thrush & Northern Flicker were the most numerous birds today.

Later the Broad-Winged Hawks began flying, and others seen today include Merlin, Kestrel, Red-Tailed, Sharp-Shinned & Cooper's Hawks.

April 21 - Sandy Hook

This morning I started at "Seven President's Beach" in Monmouth Beach as I was looking for the Little Gulls that had been reported following the recent Nor'easter.

I got to the park at 7:30 and it was still closed for parking, however I was able to walk in.
After a brief walk onto the beach, I was able to spot a group of Bonaparte's Gulls.
Scanning the flock I soon noticed an adult Little Gull !
This is the first time I had seen this bird in NJ, and the first time I got to see the black-capped adult. Previously, I had seen an immature Little Gull in Massachusetts last summer.

Today I had great close-ups of this bird in my scope for about a quarter-hour, until some joggers came by and flushed the bird. At that time I was able to get nice looks at the black underwing of this species.

Soon after I met up with my buddy Rob at Sandy Hook. He had located an immature Little Gull just north of the B-Lot parking area. Once I joined him, we were able to locate 2 more birds of this species - a sub-adult, and a full adult.
Perhaps the same bird I saw earlier in Monmouth Beach ?

Again we had great scope looks at these birds for quite a while, then watched the birds fly once again revealing the black underwing.

Later on the Hook I saw these among the 70 species I recorded today:
Barn, Tree, and Rough-Winged Swallows, Brown Creeper, 3 warblers (Pine, Palm & Yellow-Rumped), White-Eyed Vireo, Oystercatcher, Lesser Scaup, Common Loon, Great Egret, Sparrows were Song, Swamp, Savannah, White-Throat, Field & a surprise Vesper !
Raptors seen included Merlin, Kestrel, Osprey plus Broad-Winged, Red-Shouldered, Sharp-Shinned, and Cooper's Hawks.

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 20 - Tenafly Nature Center

Choices...at last !

Finally the warmer winds returned last night, and brought lots of birds with it.
There were the largest numbers of both individuals & species to date.

Over two-dozen Palm Warblers were feeding, making the entire area seem alive once again after the cold winter. Continuing were the 8-10 Pine Warblers, including a couple of female Pines too. Yellow-Rumped Warblers made their return all decked out in their beautiful breeding plumage.

Another new arrival today was the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. This bird even did a little singing for me to enjoy. These birds often breed at Tenafly, so they can also be seen later in the year.
A few Double-Crested Cormorants flew overhead, Swamp Sparrows continue along with both Golden-Crowned Kinglets and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets. Brown Creeper was seen and so was Winter Wren. Woodpeckers were represented by the Downy, Red-Bellied & Northern Flicker species.

This weekend ought to bring quite a few more new arrivals for the Spring.
I'll post about them on Monday.

April 14 - Garret Mountain & Spruce Run Reservoir

Today Rob and I started at Spruce Run Reservoir in Hunterdon County looking for the Little Gulls that had been reported. We did not see these birds.
We did see a breeding plumaged Common Loon which was very nice as I do not often see them this way in NJ. Also seen were lots of Pine & Palm Warblers, along with Eastern Phoebes and Bluebirds. We also picked up the first Barn Swallows of 2007 here.

We made a quick stop at Garret Mountain because our friend John had told us about a Louisiana Waterthrush that he had seen earlier in the day. Fortunately for us the bird was still in the same area and we got to see it immediately.

The bird was very cooperative, and we got crippling looks at it's "bubblegum pink" legs while it foraged for insects in the stream.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April 10 - Tenafly Nature Center

Yet another unseasonably cold morning, but I tried to find a few birds before work today.
One vanguard of Spring is the Pine Warbler. I saw a few of these birds here one week ago during a warm front, and several continued through today. A nice spot of color in an otherwise still lifeless looking woodland.

Also seen today were Brown Creeper, Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Eastern Phoebe, White-Breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-Capped Chickadee, Song Sparrow, Wood Duck, Tree Swallow, Common Grackle, Red-Winged Blackbird.

Once it finally gets warm, there will be a big push of new species coming into the area.
The only question is when ?

Monday, April 09, 2007

April 8 - Allendale Celery Farm

Although the cold, wintry weather continued over this past weekend there are still birds that are beginning their spring returns and rituals. Today I spent a few hours in Bergen County and had fine results.
My first target bird was the Rusty Blackbird. This rapidly-declining species still appears quite regularly at the Celery Farm each spring. Almost immediately I flushed one from the brush as I walked by. The bird perched briefly for me although it was backlit and hard to see all of the field marks. Later in the morning I saw a flock of 5-6 birds, and these were seen in much better light.

The next bird I found was another specialty of "The Farm". I spotted the silhouette of a Virgina Rail, and then had some brief looks at it prior to it's retreat to the thick underbrush. Later I returned to the area with some friends and we saw the bird once again. This time the bird stayed out for quite long. It was enjoyable to see the brightly orange-colored features (eyes, legs, and base of bill) on this bird. While enjoying this spectacle my friend noticed other movement close-by, and it was yet another Virginia Rail. This bird was much duller, and just a small portion of the bill was orange, while the eyes and legs were devoid of any coloration.
Perhaps this one was a female ? or just an immature male ?
At one point the rails did call to each other, and respond, with the low-grunting call of this species.

A bit later on I watched a small Rabbit run through the brush, and to my surprise a Wilson's Snipe was flushed, and I saw the bird fly briefly. Later that morning I was able to see another Snipe with very nice views through a spotting scope.

Finally, we went through the wooded-area in the back of the Celery Farm. While hearing the singing of a Winter Wren, I spotted my "first of the spring" Palm Warbler. And it was also the first for all 3 of the birders in our group! The yellow and rust colors on this bird were a welcome sight. This bird was another fine treat today, on this otherwise un-seasonably cold morning.