Monday, July 23, 2007

July 21 - Stone Harbor & Brigantine

A few friends and I visited Stone Harbor, however we arrived too close to high tide and many of the birds had already left. The specialties here are shorebirds and terns.

Some of the noteworthy birds seen here today included the Royal Tern with it's breeding colony, numerous Common Terns, a lone Brown Pelican, nearly a dozen Red Knots, breeding plumaged Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Piping Plover, Black-Bellied Plover, a Northern Gannet, and Whimbrel.
A quick stop at the Wetlands Institute produced a beautiful and quite active Tri-Colored Heron.

We missed some of the more sought after species of Sandwich Tern, Gull-Billed Tern, and the vagrant Curlew Sandpiper that had recently been reported.

Afterwards we stopped at Brigantine, as one in the party needed the Gull-Billed Tern as a lifer. Almost immediately we were able to find this bird for John. Other species seen here again were Caspian Tern, Least Bittern, Blue-winged Teal, Purple Martin, and Clapper Rail, this time being the chicks that were seen.

Later some other birding friends from Sandy Hook Bird Observatory pointed out the brilliantly-colored Western Sandpipers to us.

Our group was able to reciprocate by locating a pair of Cattle Egret and a single Pectoral Sandpiper.

Overall, another fine day of birding was had by all.

Monday, July 16, 2007

July 15 - Brigantine & Brooklyn

Today turned out to be an exceptional day. It began with viewing the Roseate Spoonbill near the Gull Tower at Brigantine NWR. This is just the second state-record for New Jersey.
Although I did not see this bird fly, some very nice views of the perched bird were had. These included looks at the fine pink coloring of the bird, the outstretched wings, and the namesake bill itself. (click to enlarge)

Afterwards a quick trip around the auto-route there produced fine views of the following:

Least Bittern, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Osprey, Peregrine, Whimbrel, Caspian Tern, Gull-Billed Tern, the Martins, Salt-marsh Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak. Shorebirds were both Yellowlegs, Least & Semi-Palmated Sand-peepers, Spotted Sandpiper, Willet, and Oystercatcher.

On the drive back north from Brig I received a call from Rob F. who said the Western Reef-Egret(Heron) had been re-located in Brooklyn. I had missed the bird at this spot on last Tuesday morning. So, our party took a brief, nevertheless costly, detour to the Drier-Offerman Park. Upon arriving we heard that the bird had flown away about an hour and a half before we go there.
Due to the tolls costs we just expended we decided to stay for a bit. After just over an hour, I saw the dark heron with a white throat flying back into the area whereupon it landed on one of the decaying barges there.

All were able to get nice clear views of this bird as it preened, and proceeded to show all of it's diagnostic field marks. Unfortunately the bird did not go into the water to feed while I was there.

When the day ended I said to everyone, I can't believe I just saw a Roseate Spoonbill AND a Western Reef-Egret without getting onto an airplane !!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

July 8 - Jones Beach and Jamaica Bay Refuge

I made a quick, and early, trip to the West End of Jones Beach this morning to view the previously reported Yellow-Headed Blackbird.
This bird is typical of the Central and Western US where the bird breeds.

Annually one or two individuals make it to the east coast, yet typically these birds are found in the late summer/early fall. This bird was a female yet she still showed the traits for which it was named.
The bird was feeding among some other Blackbirds, mostly Starling. The Yellow-Headed was slightly larger than the rest, and was actively feeding. The bird would pick the insects off the small flowers growing out of the grass found in the median strip on one of the roads leading to the beach.

After 30 minutes or so of watching this bird I then took some time to watch birds from the beach itself. Here I saw the breeding Piping Plovers, the terns of Common & Least, a lone Least Sandpiper and a juvenile Northern Gannet.

July 7 - Newark Watershed

Once again I decided to bird locally, and try for Ruffed Grouse. So, I took the Stephens Road entrance into the Newark Watershed.

Immediately I was met with the song of the Yellow-Throated Vireo. It took a few minutes to locate this songster high in the trees, but a fine view was the reward. This was followed by the calls of Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Black-Throated Green warblers and Ovenbird.

Later down the trail I found several pairs of Black-Throated Blue warblers, multiple Hooded warblers, a Worm-Eating warbler, American Redstarts, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Wood Thrush, and finally at the pond there I saw Eastern Kingbirds & Bluebirds, along with two young Hooded Mergansers.

July 4 - Wawayanda State Park

Continuing my recent search for Ruffed Grouse, and a chance to bird locally avoiding traffic and gas prices , I took a few mile hike just off of Cherry Ridge Road today.

Many beautiful birds were seen.

June 30 - Sparta Mountain

This morning I tried to find Ruffed Grouse at one of the spots that is known to be good for this reclusive , and declining, bird but I was not successful. However there were still plenty of nice birds to be seen. Noteworthy today were an adult male Pileated Woodpecker with it's young, both male and female Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks, a surprise in the American Woodcock, Hairy Woodpecker, Great-Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe and Eastern Wood-Pewee.