Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 25 - Yard Siskins & a fly-by Merlin

This afternoon I was outside for a few minutes and heard the sounds of Pine Siskins. Several dozen of these birds perched in a neighbor's tree. I watched them for quite a bit, at times numbering a half-dozen & other times up to 2 dozen flying overhead.
credit: Chris Bohinski

While watching these birds I saw a small hawk fly-through and I thought it was a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, but the wings were pointy & this guy was flying like a mo-fo !
It was a Merlin. Another first for my yard !

Saturday, January 24, 2009

January 24 - Colorado Redux in New Jersey

While the weather was quite different here in NJ than it was during my summer trip to Colorado, the bird species were uncannily similar.
In the town of Collingswood the long staying Green-Tailed Towhee did not disappoint. I arrived just before 8 am, and the bird appeared shortly afterwards. Having just seen this species in late June in CO, it was still nice to view this bird in my home state. The last time this species was recorded in New Jersey was way back i april 1985. I did not stay long, as I did not have a lot of free time today, but I ticked the bird for my State List (# 342) and headed northward back towards my home.
credit: Chris Bohinski

I made a brief stop at Florence, which is one the Delaware River, just across from a landfill in Pennsylvania. Here I had a adult Bald Eagle, and gulls of Iceland, Herring, Ring-Billed & Greater-Black Backed.

Continuing the westerly route home, which allowed me to stop at the Round Valley Reservoir. Here was another bird that I had seen in Colorado this summer. The Eared Grebe put in a very nice appearance, and was quite close at that. Very nice scope views were had, particularly of it's red eye.
credit: Bob Fogg

Lastly I made a stop for the Sandhill Cranes which have been reportedin Franklin Township in Somerset County. Although I gave these birds more than an hour of searching I could not locate them. Oh well, still a great day.

January 18 - Jones Beach & Orchard Beach

In a heavier than expected snowfall my friends and I did some birding from Point Lookout this morning. The anticipated species were seen, but nothing too unusual crossed our eyeballs this morning. Lots of Horned Grebes, a few Great Cormorants, Bonaparte's Gulls, Sanderling etc.
At Jones Beach we saw an incredible 19 Lapland Longspurs in one group near the Coast Guard Station. Also seen there were Horned Larks & Snow Buntings. This represents the highest numbers of Laplands I have ever seen at one time.

Afterwards we made a quick stop at Tobay Beach where we easily found the Audubon's Warbler that has been reported for several weeks now.

Finally we stopped at Pelham Bay Parks' Orchard Beach section. Here we have one White-Winged Crossbill as a surprise, and 3 Long-Eared Owls which we had hoped to see.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

January 10 - Clinton Road Crossbills

Finally I have seen the White-Winged Crossbill in the State of New Jersey, and they were no more than 10 minutes from my home.
credit: Raymond J Barlow --- click on image to enlarge ---

For years I have wanted to see this species in my home state, however they have always been too rare, and when they are seen it has been very fleeting.
This area of Clinton Road is well known to many birders of 10-15 years ago as a great spot for this species, however due to milder winters these irruptive birds have not been common here since I started birding back in the early 1990s.

This is species # 341 for my New Jersey List.

Other birds seen today were Red-Breasted Nuthatches and Brown Creeper.
credit: Scott Streit --- click on image to enlarge ---

Saturday, January 03, 2009

January 3 - Hunterdon County & Great Swamp NWR

Today I had just a few hours for birding. So I decided to try for the Barnacle Goose that has been seen since late November in Califon, which is located in Hunterdon County. Arriving at 7:30 I was glad to see another birder here ahead of me, and sure enough he was already on the bird. I have seen this species before, in Rhode Island and New York, however I had not yet seen it within New Jersey. This is State Bird # 340 for me.

Next up was a visit to nearby Spruce Run Reservoir. Here at the Boat Launch area I saw a dozen Horned Larks, and a few Snow Buntings amongst them. It's always a treat to see the Toasted Marshmallow color of the Snow Bunting !
credit: Tom Zurowski

On the water there were thousands of Canada Geese, a pair of Snow Geese, and among the numberous Ring-Billed Gulls and Herring Gulls one stood out as distinctly larger. This was a Glaucous Gull. I had just seen this bird recently on Long Island, and mid-summer at Brigantine.
Also there were a few Lesser Black-Backed Gulls.

On the drive homeward I stopped at the Great Swamp NWR for a chance at some seasonal birds which spend the winters here almost annually. I only had about 90 minutes free so the wait for the birds seemed excruciating. After a short wait I was able to find the beautiful Red-Headed Woodpecker along Pleasant Plains Road. The next bird I was after was the Northern Shrike, also known as the Butcher Bird. I had seen this bird here last year but it was just a quick look while in flight. After another half-hour wait, and just as my friend Rob approached with a large group of birders he was leading on a field trip today, the Shrike flew overhead, but this time it did stop in a nearby tree.
From the Herony Overlook the entire group enjoyed nice scope views of the bird as it perched tree top for 5-10 minutes.
Credit: Jerry Talkington

Once this bird flew off I started on my way out of the refuge, but stopped at a clearing where Barred Owl has been reported recently. I did not see the bird and was getting back into my car when I saw it flush, from wherever it was, and fly across this clearing some 30 yards away toward another perch fairly deep within the woods. I took about 15 steps toward the bird for a better look, but he woudl have none of that and once agiain flew into the woods even further this time.
credit: Richard Etlinger

Oh well, it was a very brief look at a flying bird, but qho knows maybe next year I'll come back and get a better look, as I did this year with the Northern Shrike !