Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29 - Local Spots

Because I had just a half-day of free time today I decided to do some local birding.
It had been a few years since my last sighting of Glaucous Gull so once friend Dan P. had reported one on the Passaic River in the vicinity of Garfield I decided to try for it.  My first attempt was a short try back on Tuesday December 26 but I did not see it.

When the gull was reported by friend Mike W. on Saturday, I made a second attempt on Sunday at first light.  I arrived about a quarter past 7, just before sunrise, and there was enough ambient light to start looking at the group of gulls.  Fortunately the Glaucous Gull is a big all-white bird which makes it easier to find in darker conditions.  Within a few minutes I had located the Gull !

credit:  Dan Paolillo.

credit:  Mike Wolfe

When I was watching the big white Gull I then noticed a smaller white gull, it was an Iceland Gull.  The Iceland Gull took off after less than a minute and flew downstream to the Dundee Dam area.

The Glaucous stayed in sight the entire time I was there and at times came quite close.  Other species seen in my half-hour there were Bufflehead, Common Merganser, and Gulls of Ring-Billed, Herring, and Greater Black-Backed.

I could see that rain was going to come soon but I continued onto my next stop at Hatfield Swamp.
Along the walk under the power lines I saw such sparrows as Dark-Eyed Junco, American Tree, Song, Swamp, Field, and White-Throated. I heard a Towhee call a few times as well.   I came across a pair of Blackbirds, yet these were not Rusties but of the Red-winged variety.  Here woodpeckers abound and I saw numerous Downy & Red-Bellied along with many Northern Flickers, plus a few each of Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and Hairy Woodpeckers.  Surprisingly there weren't any Red-Headed Woodpeckers even though this place looks to be perfect for this species' liking...

During my walk I spotted a Barred Owl, which is the first time I have seen this species here.

I think that's it for my birding adventures in 2013.  I do hope to get out on New Year's Day and start the 2014 chases ! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26 - Northern Nassau County

Since I had the day off today, why not see some birds ?   It's certainly better than returning gifts !

I started out by going to the town of Sea Cliff, near Glen Cove, for a rare visitor in the form of a Black Guillemot.  Fortunately this was a 'drive-up' bird as we saw it immediately upon parking.  This was good news for us ans we had intended to spend a few hours waiting for the bird to show, because it's patterns over the few days since it's discovery was that it came in during the later morning.

We were lucky to get great views of the bird because it was just about 100 yards off-shore.  Also the bird was quite actively feeding at first, but then settled down where it stayed up on the water for extended periods of time.

Afterwards we went to the nearby Bayville beaches where we had nice looks at Common Goldeneye and Horned Grebes, along with several dozen White-Winged Scoters.

Our last stop was at Saint John's Pond near Cold Spring Harbor in the town of Cold Spring.  Here too we had a drive-up with a male Eurasian Wigeon.

A good way to end the year as I do not expect to get out again before I make a New Year's morning trip to Montauk Point in search of alcids & seagulls.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21 - Long Island & NYC

Today saw a visit to Long Island with the first stop being Jones Beach.  Here we saw such goodies as Lapland Longspur in the West End 6 parking lot, and a Snowy Owl along the beachfront.

On our way back west toward home we made a detour to lower Manhattan.  Here we saw the Varied Thrush which has been reported for the past few days.   We did get fine views of this bird at it's Stuyvesant Oval location.  Ironically this vagrant is not even a year bird, as we had seen another Varied Thrush in Prospect Park back in March of 2013. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

December 7 - Nutmeg State Chases

I went out with friends Andy E. and Jennifer C. today on a trip up to Connecticut to see if the Fork-Tailed Flycatcher was still around.
This bird had been discovered last Saturday November 30th at the ferry launch in Hadlyme, CT and it had been quite cooperative for literally hundreds of birders since then.  While we all had seen great views of the previous Connecticut State Record of Fork-Tailed flycatcher back in November 2010, this South-American bird is such a rarity one is obliged to see it again !

The nearby General Store was helping out any wayward travelers with this clever adaptation of their Daily Specials blackboard !

We arrived just past 8 am and were happy to see about a dozen birders already on site, including one familiar New Jerseyan in the name of Marc C.  The group quickly directed us on where to see the bird.  Fortunately the bird was quite active despite the frosty morning and it afforded fine views for long periods of time while it coughed up the undigested parts of yesterday's insect meals.  We were on a tight schedule today and could only enjoy the Flycatcher for about 45 minutes.

Here are some shots for documentation purposes only.  Many other have fantastic images of this bird.

See Tim Antinaitis's image here and see the Connecticut Audubon site for more

We then began heading back westward and made our first stop at nearby Hammonasset State Park.  "Hammo" was it's typically rewarding stop.  First up at Meigs Point Nature Center we had Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, and among them was a single Lapland Longspur.  While there a local birder Jesus T. informed us of a Snowy Owl being seen just about 150 yards away.  So after a short walk we all go to enjoy seeing this magnificent species.

I had relayed the Lapland Longspur sighting to Marc C. and while on his way to meet me, Marc was briefly distracted by three Clay-Colored Sparrows on the entrance road to the park.  So Marc politely told me about the sparrows and we went off in search of them, while he focused his attention on the Longspur search.  Indeed we all found the birds we were after !

The final stop today was in East Haven along the southern shore 's Brazos Road.  This spot has been productive over the years and today's target was a drake (male) Barrow's Goldeneye.  The raft of Goldeneye was quite distant however in between the waves & troughs we were able to pick him out at various times.

A great day in the Nutmeg State !

Sunday, December 01, 2013

November 30 - Snowy Day

I went south with Bill E today, our first stop was Brigantine NWR.  Here we got the Snowy Owl and saw it quite well, plus we saw the Owl take a short flght. Later Bill was able to find the Eurasian Wigeon, and we saw over 40 of the Tundra Swans.

We headed north and made our second stop at Barnegat Lighthouse.  Here we had another Snowy Owl and this one was very easy to get close views by using our optics.  Unfortunately others get too close.  Anyway we also had all 3 species of Scoter, and an amazing 8 King Eiders, of which a few were immature males and the rest were females.  Of course the Harlequin Ducks, Purple Sandpipers, and Ipswhich Sparrow were also great to see.

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Here is an image that shows a good comparison between King & Common Eider

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24 - Go west young man !

There has been a significant push of Snowy Owls into our area the last few days with many coastal locations reporting them (Sandy Hook, Barnegat, Long Island, Connecticut) so one would think that is where I would also end up this weekend. 
However the lure was west of my home.  In fact quite far the Harrisburg / Hershey area.  We were after a MacGillivary's Warbler which had been found in the Reservoir Park of Highspire, Pennsylvania.  I had last seen this species in it's typical range of Colorado, back in 2008. After arriving around 9 am, we were glad to see other birders already on site and most importantly they said the bird was still present.  After waiting about 15 minutes in this unusually bitter cold November morning we got a quick glimpse of this skulking bird.  And this is what I had expected to see, a little part of the bird here & there.
Fortunately we decided to wait around and within another 20 minutes or so, the bird began to show itself more reliably, but still in short 2-3 second intervals.  Once it got warmer the bird appeared to prefer this one sunny spot in the tangles and it then really put on a show, giving us nice long extended looks and even being in the open for long periods of time.

click to enlarge

credit: MacGillivray’s Warbler – Highspire Park, PA (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

You can see some more great shots of the bird  by Alan here:

On our long way back eastward, we stopped at New Jersey's Round Valley Reservoir to have a look at the Eared Grebe that had been reported the day before.  We easily found this bird after a short walk and enjoyed nice views of it in a sheltered cove.

A Quality over Quantity type of day...

Thursday, November 07, 2013

November 7 - Carara National Park

A return visit was in order and it paid off handsomely!  Many of my target species were seen today.
Randall Ortega Chaves started me off once again on the Laguna Meandrica trail for a few species that we did not connect with on the day before.

Highlights were the Orange-collared Mannikin:

credit: Pete Morris

Finally with under an hour left to my time, Randall's non-stop efforts to get me a Pale-Billed Woodpecker paid off !   We enjoyed fine looks at this species feeding along a downed tree.


Randall showed me an absolutely fantastic spot alongside a stream and this area produced an incredible amount of beautiful species like Blue Dacnis, Bay-Headed Tanager, Shining Honeycreeper etc.

click to enlarge
credit: Randall Ortega Chaves

Later we stopped on a bridge crossing another waterway and enjoyed even more birds !

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credit: Randall Ortega Chaves

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

November 6 - Waterfall Road & Carara National Park

This day began by meeting an outstanding birding guide named Randall Ortega Chaves of Costa Rica Birding Journeys.

We first stopped along Waterfall Road near the hotel of Villa Lapas.
Later we birded the Laguna Meandrica Trail of Carara National Park

click to enlarge

Sunday, November 03, 2013

November 3 - Poas Volcano

On my second day here I was again expertly guided by Patrick O'Donnell.  Our day began in urban San Jose and later we went to the top of Poas Volcano.
Again the day's events were nicely captured in Patrick's blog entry

Saturday, November 02, 2013

November 2 - Braulio Carilo National Park & the Hummingbird Garden of El Tapir

Arriving into San Jose, Costa Rica last night I spent my first day here with birding guide extraordinaire Patrick O'Donnell at the National Park of Braulio Carillo, and the nearby Hummingbird Garden of El Tapir.  We also visited a few other local spots.

The day's events were nicely cataloged in Patrick's blog entry

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 20 - Croton Point birds

This morning I to Westchester County's Croton Point Park to look for sparrows.  However both before & after that I made a stop at the nearby Train Station.  At this same Station I had seen a Northern Wheater back in 2011.   The reason for stopping at the Station today was to see an alternate plumaged Red-Throated Loon.

This is the first breeding plumaged RT Loon that I have ever seen, and the feeling was quite like seeing a Life-bird !

 click to enlarge.

At Croton Point Park is was quite breezy and that seemed to keep the sparrows low in the grasses.  I did see Song, Swamp, Savannah, White-Throat, and Field sparrows.  A few Palm Warblers and a Kestrel were also seen

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 15 - Garret Mountain

I only had a few hours this morning so I went to the local spot of Garret Mountain.  It was a pretty good morning flight, but quite short.  The highlight was the Vireos with Red-Eyed, Yellow-Throated, Warbling, and Philadelphia being the highlight.   I had missed seeing the Philadelphia Vireo the past two falls.

In the pockets of birds we located we saw some nice warblers, including Cape May, Nashville, Blackpoll, among the more numerous Black-Throated Green, Black-Throated Blue, Magnolias, Redstarts, Chestnut-Sideds, and Parulas.  Singletons were had for Pine and Tennessee.    

September 14 - Central Park

As there were northwesterly winds last night, we decided to bird in Central Park today.  There was quite a bit of activity in the North Woods at first light.  We had nice looks at Bay-Breasted Warbler here.  Among the more common Black-Throated Green Warblers & Chestnut-Sided Warblers, Redstarts, and Magnolia Warblers, we also had warblers of Wilson's, Blackpoll, Palm, Black-Throated Blue, Northern Parula, and Black-and-White.

Later in the morning at the Maintenance Field, near the Ramble Shed, we did get looks at a Yellow-Breasted Chat, and a Black-Billed Cuckoo.  A pair of Olive-Sided Flycatchers put on quite a show here as well.

In the late morning sky we saw a kettle of over  100 Broad-Winged Hawks, an Adult Bald Eagle, and Osprey.

We dipped on seeing the Virginia Rail, but on our walk out past the Jackie Onassis Reservoir it was Andy who spotted a Connecticut Warbler just past 88th street.  We got fine looks at this bird in the Cherry trees that go alongside the Reservoir.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 7 - Overnight Pelagic trip

After several years of trying to get on this trip I finally was able to set the date and make it !   This trip departs the marina at 10 pm and then powers out over 6 hours to reach the Continental Shelf just before dawn.
At first light we had several Wilson's Storm Petrels, and a Band-Rumped Storm Petrel that I missed.  Fortunately I was able to get a fair view of this species later in the morning, thanks to trip leader Paul Guris showing us the bird.    We also got brief, but definitive, views of three of the Leach's Storm Petrels.   We came across some small flocks of Red-Necked Phalaropes in their basic plumage.

The day was filled with Cory's Shearwaters & Audubon's Shearwaters, but unfortunately we didn't come across any of the Great Shearwater.   The bird of the day has to be the adult Pomarine Jaeger that came very close to our boat.  Here's a fantastic pic taken by Larry Scacchetti.  It captures the bird's eye looking in our direction, as if it were viewing our boat.

click to enlarge
credit:  Larry Scacchetti

Another highlight occurred with the juvenile Long-Tailed Jaeger that also made a close pass at the boat.  This was ABA Lifer# 627 for me !

Finally, a huge treat was seeing several Bridled Terns.  I had not seen this species since a brief view back in 2003, so it was great to see a handful of these birds and to see them at close range while in flight, as well as, perched on some flotsam.

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credit: Larry Scacchetti

Friday, September 06, 2013

September 6 - Forsythe NWR a/k/a Brigantine

On my way down to Cape May for tonight's pelagic I made a stop at Brigantine.   Here I was able to see numerous Caspian Terns, a "late"-ish Gull-Billed Tern, and a pair of Buff-Breasted Sandpipers, along with a single Baird's Sandpiper.  Other shorebirds seen were American Oystercatcher, Black-Bellied Plover, Semi-Palmated Plover, both Yellowlegs, Semi-Palamated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper. both Dowitchers, and an early Ring-Necked Duck !

Monday, September 02, 2013

September 2 - Pine Island birding

Today I went in search of "sodpipers" which is the term used for the Sandpipers that visit the sod farms in our area during the bird's migration south from their Arctic breeding grounds.

I started out at the Pine Island Turf Farm and quickly got caught in a 30-minute torrential downpour.  Although sitting out that rainstorm was quite boring, the after-effects were good as the fresh puddles attract lots of birds.   Here I found the expected species of Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, and Semi-Palmated Plovers. 

My next stop was the Camel Farm and here I had an exciting find of a Black Tern hawking insects over the large pond there.  This is my first Orange County record for this species ! 
credit: unknown

On the pond were several Blue-Winged Teal, and along the edges I found Lesser Yellowlegs and  Spotted Sandpiper, while a few Bobolink flew overhead sounding off with their "pink-pink" calls.

Afterward I visited Skinner's Lane and here too I had another Black Tern !   Also seen here were Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, both Yellowlegs species, Least Sandpiper, Cooper's Hawk, Peregrine Falcon and American Kestrel.

My last stop was on Turtle Bay with John Haas, and he showed me an American Golden Plover amongst the other species we saw of  Killdeer, Solitary Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, both Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper and a few Swallow species.

Overall a pretty good morning out after the rain.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 18 - Robert Moses State Park Seawatch

With just a few hours free today, friends Andy, Jen, Bill and I went out east to Robert Moses State Park's Field 2 for a seawatch as the winds were from the east.  Our decision paid off as we saw up to 2 dozen of the Cory's Shearwaters, with a handful or more coming quite close.

Credit: Link

We struck out on getting any other shearwaters species today, although we did have a single Northern Gannet, along with the expected Common Terns and other regulars.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11 - White's Bog for Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

This morning Bill and I went down to Burlington County's spot known as White's Bogs.  This location is a giant cranberry bog.   Amongst the growing fields and dikes a Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher had been reported for about one week now.
We found the spot fairly easy and within 15 minutes we go on the bird.  It appears to be a young bird.  This is my second sighting of this species within New Jersey.

Click to enlarge
credit: Larry Scacchetti

We briefly saw a Baird's Sandpiper here, as well as too many Solitary Sandpipers to count !!.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27 - Jamaica Bay East Pond

A visit to the East Pond of Jamaica Bay NWR gave us lots of birds to look at today, although there was not much diversity.  The best bird of the day was a Ruff that we found just after arriving around 7 am.  The bird left shortly after, but then returned around 10:30 and others were able to see this bird at that time.  

Credit: Andrew Baksh

Unfortunately we left the pond just before an American Avocet was reported, so we missed this one.

We did see Sandpipers of Stilt, Least, Semi-Palmated, Spotted, Least, and a Western.  A Ruddy Turnstone was seen briefly, and we had terns of Least, Forster's, and a Common or two.  The most common bird was the Short-Billed Dowitcher, and we had a few American Oystercatchers, and Semi-Palmated Plovers.  There were both species of Yellowlegs.  On the walk out we heard a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 14 - Robert Moses & Jamaica Bay

My friends and I began today with a seawatch at Robert Moses State Park.  The birding was quite slow but we did manage to get nice looks at a close Cory's Shearwater, and had 2 other Cory's at a distance.
But that's how seawatching goes, sometimes its good and other times it's unproductive.

On the way back west to NJ, we stopped at Jamaica Bay NWR and the birding here was also slow.  It was incredibly humid and hot today, so we had to wrap things up by 11 am.   Nevertheless we did have a nice find of a Gull-Billed Tern from the West Pond path, which is sill breached after 2012's Hurricane Sandy. .  We also had a Young Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, a Glossy Ibis.

Friday, July 05, 2013

July 5 - Cupsogue County Park

My friend Bill and I made the drive out to eastern Long Island in search of terns and we certainly had our fill today.  Highlights were three Arctic Terns in first-year plumage, plus one adult-plumaged Arctic Tern.
We also saw at least 4 of the Roseate Tern, plus 5 of the Black Tern, and a single Gull-Billed Tern.  The other more typical terns of Common, Forster's, and Least were also seen.

We had a single White-Rumped Sandpiper, several Red Knot, Least Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, and Semi-Palmated Sandpiper among the numerous Short-Billed Dowitcher.   Willet and Oystercatcher were abundant.

Here's Bill soaking up some birds & sun !

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30 - High Point State Park

I went out with friend Bill E. today and headed north on Route 23 up to High Point State Park, specifically Sawmill Road and its environs.  In addition to 3 Black Bears seen at different points we soaked up views of some beautiful birds while enjoying the cooler air of these higher elevations.
We saw and heard about 8 Cerulean Warblers, numerous Yellow-Throated Vireos, and at least 3 of the Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers that breed up here.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23 - Sussex County birds

With just a few hours free today and before it got oppressively hot  I visited some more local spots to enjoy the breeding birds of the region.   First up was the powerline cut, or should I say  "tick" infestation area, on Holland Mountain Road.  A short walk resulted in several dozen dog-ticks, and worse yet a pair of deer-ticks.  Also seen was a young Black Bear, fortunately it was sleeping about 70 feet up in a White Pine.   The highlight was a pair of male Golden-Winged Warblers amongst several Blue-Winged Warblers and one hybrid of the two species.   A continually singing Alder Flycatcher was nice to see, as were the other expected species of Indigo Bunting, Prairie Warbler, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, a Broad-winged Hawk harassing a Red-Tailed Hawk, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Scarlet Tanager etc.

The next stop was a pond on Edison Road in hopes of a Red-Headed Woodpecker.  I did not see this bird today but did enjoy several other species in Flicker, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Tree Swallow, Scarlet Tanager, etc

The last stop was on Lower Unionville Road for the Bank Swallow colony.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 15 - Old Mine Road IBA

Today I met a group of friends who were getting together to take buddy Rob F. on a birdwalk before his upcoming wedding.   I began at the northern end of Old Mine Road and worked my way down south to meet them at the Worthington State Forest lot.  

Sunday, June 09, 2013

June 9 - Ulster County birding

A return trip to Ulster County this morning was made in order to look for the King Rail which had been reported at the Great Vly Swamp in Saugerties, New York.   I heard about this bird from friend John Haas' blog . 
I was not able to make it here last weekend, and thankfully the bird is still showing itself quite well when it makes its trips across the road.  We saw the bird within minutes of arriving.  As well we saw it quickly a couple of hours later during a return visit.

click to enlarge

We did not see the Sandhill Crane, as that bird evidently departed a few days ago.  Nor did we have enough time to wait for the Mississippi Kite to show in nearby Katsbaan. Although I'm told that bird did re-appear just before noon.

On our way back home we stopped just south of New Paltz.  Here at the junction of Plutarch Road & Weston Road is another swampy area that has been home to some Red-Headed Woodpeckers for a few years now.  We got to see these birds coming & going to their nest, and the bright sunlight made their plumage practically glow. 

Finally a stop at the Celery Farm in Allendale, New Jersey produced an easy to find Alder Flycather, while a Red-Shouldered Hawk floated overhead.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

June 2 - Lord Stirling Park & Great Swamp NWR

As I did not have a full day today I went a bit more local by visiting Somerset County's parks.  First up was Lord Stirling and here we saw the target bird of Prothonotary Warbler.  We heard and then had very nice views of this species, formerly known as the Golden-Swamp Warbler, a name I feel better describes this bird.

credit: Laura Meyers

Many of the same breeding birds of the region were seen here:  Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Yellow-Throated Vireo, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Baltimore & Orchard Orioles, Wood Thrush, Veery, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Green Heron.

Later at nearby Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, we heard White-Eyed Vireo and pal Jennifer was able to spot a Yellow-Breasted Chat. We all got fine views of it in our spotting scopes.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

May 26 - Sterling Forest, The 'Gunk, and Clinton Road

When my friends suggested a return trip to this great birding spot today I gladly accepted.  This Orange County hotspot produced the hoped for specialties of Golden-Winged Warbler & Cerulean Warbler, which were seen well, as were many other beautiful species of birds.   The electric-colored birds of Baltimore Oriole, Indigo Bunting, and Scarlet Tanager are just pure eye-candy that anyone can appreciate.

 Other beauties seen were warblers of Prairie, Yellow, Chestnut-Sided, Black-and-White, and Common Yellowthroat.
We also had nice view of Yellow-Billed Cuckoos,  Great Crested Flaycathers, Cedar Waxwings, and the tiny Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher.

Afterward we headed further north to Ulster County's Shawangunk Grasslands.  This was my first visit here since the area was closed last year to remove all signs of the old airfields & to make walking trails in their place.  The grasslands can now hold more wildlife, and will be managed to keep the area from being re-forested.  Here we did not see our target of Upland Sandpiper but we did get on several Grasshopper Sparrows, numerous Bobolinks, several Meadowlarks, a pair of Orchard Orioles, Willow Flycatchers, and Eastern Kingbirds.   
Raptors seen were American Kestrel in splendid plumage and light, Vultures of Black and Turkey, Common Raven, Red-Tailed Hawks and Northern Harrier.

Just before getting back home we stopped at the Newark Watershed's powerline cut along Van Orden Road.  Here we hoped to see if the Golden-Winged Warbler had made a return to this former stronghold. Unfortunately the clear-cutting of brush beneath the powerlines has not yet grown back enough for this species.  We did see Blue-Winged Warblers, Field Sparrows, Indigo Buntings, Prairie Warblers, Chestnut-Sided Warblers, and Ovenbirds.  Perhaps in a few more season the Golden-Wingeds may return.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 19 - Curlew Sandpiper miss, but Red-Necked Phalarope hit

After hearing the report of a Curlew Sandpiper in southwestern NJ's Heislerville Wildlife Management Area, we took the 2.5 hour ride down to try for it.  Only one of our group got to see this bird today, but we all went home happy.
First up, while searching for the Curlew, I came across a male Wilson's Phalrope.  I was glad to be able to share this sighting with many other birders.  And that karma was reciprocated later when Brian Small put us all on a female Red-Necked Phalarope.  This was my first time seeing the female in breeding plumage and I have to say it's one heckuva beautiful bird.


At nearby spots we saw Orchard Orioles, Blue Grosbeaks, White-Eyed Vireos, and heard Yellow-Breasted Chats. 

We then stopped at Belleplain State Forest where we saw the resident Yellow-Throated Warblers, Worm-Eating Warblers and Hooded Warblers.  Alas, we could not find a Summer Tanager.    I'll have to return later this year to try again for that species

Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 18 - Garret Mountain

This morning began with sounds of a Mourning Warbler at the top of Wilson Avenue. In the large Oak above the roadway a very cooperative bird put on quite a show for nearly 15 minutes.  Seeing & hearing this guy at close range, while is was very actively feeding was the highlight of today.


However many other fine looking spring birds showed off their breeding plumage today.  There were Common Loons flying overhead, and Red, White & Blue Tom Turkeys fanning their tails for potential mates. A pair of Green Herons chased each other around Barbour's Pond, at one point scaring up a Black-Crowned Night-Heron, which is a rare bird here.  The Killdeer young have already fledged and were joined on the southern mudflats by a pair of Spotted Sandpipers showing off their namesake spots.
A pair of Yellow-Billed Cuckoos were actively flying about & calling, as were several Great Crested Flycatchers and Eastern Kingbirds.  Vireos were also present with the resident Warbling pairs alongside the Red-Eyed, and even a few Blue-Headeds remain here before heading to their northerly breeding areas.Gray-Cheeked Thrush are now in, joining their Swainson's cousins & the melodious wood Thrushes and Brown Thrashers.

In addition to the Mourning Warbler, we saw Ovenbirds and a Northern Waterthrush. Later Bill and I explored the more remote areas of the park and came up with Nashville and Bay-Breasted Warblers, ad heard Hooded Warbler.  Still present are Northern Parulas, American Redstarts, Magnolias and a few Blackburnians.  Blackpoll Warblers are common now as well as Candas.  We found one Wilsons Warbler to round out the total of  20 species seen today.

Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17 - Sterling Forest

After work this evening I went up to New York State's Sterling Forest.  I was able to see all of my targets and a few extras as well.
First up was a Black-Billed Cuckoo which was calling as soon as I gout out of the car & allowed spectacular views.  Nearby a Yellow-Throated Vireo was also seen well.  I was also able to see the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo later this evening.
Next was the specialty bird of this spot, the Golden-Winged Warbler, which is a species that is extremely hard to find nesting in New Jersey anymore.  Thankfully they are still reliable here.

Go to Lloyd  Spitalnik's website to view more of  this beautiful warbler, and his other fine work.

I also saw the Blue-Winged Warbler and Prairie Warbler amongst the many singing Indigo Buntings.  Another specialty warbler of this location is the Cerulean Warbler and I was lucky to see both the male and the female this time. Other warblers tonight were Black-and-White, Common Yellowthroat, American redstart, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-Sided, and Blackpoll.
These birds were joined by Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, rose-Breasted Grosbeak and Great Crested Flycatcher. A pair of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds put on a nice show too. 

Just as dusk was setting in I glimpsed some Common Nighthawks overhead and ended up with a total of  11 being seen.  In the woods a Barred Owl called, and later several Eastern Whip-poor-Wills sounded off.  Overall a very productive, and enjoyable, end to the work week and  start of my birding weekend.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May 12 - Grand Day at Garret

This morning I got started just before dawn at Garret Mountain and was able to see a Common Nighthawk in the first minutes after sunrise.   The rest of the day was very enjoyable with many new arrivals, particularly for me as I was away for the first week of May.

Warblers put on a good showing with these 20 species being seen: Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-White, Tennessee, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Cape May, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Bay-Breasted, Blackburnian, Yellow, Chestnut-Sided, Blackpoll, Black-Throated Blue, Palm, Yellow-Rumped, Black-Throated Green, and Wilson's.

Both orioles of Baltimore & Orchard were seen, as were vireos of  Yellow-Throated, Blue-Headed, Warbling, and Red-Eyed. Both Nuthatch species were tallied as were Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Eastern Kingbird.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 11 - Brigantine re-opens !

After last October's Hurricane Sandy the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, a/k/a Brigantine, was heavily damaged and has now re-opened.

click to enlarge


The wildlife loop was breached in several sections and required months of work to be repaired.  On Thursday evening a breeding female Red Phalarope was found, and this bird was also seen on Friday morning.  So I made the drive down here on Saturday, however the bird was not seen again after Friday.

I did however enjoy seeing the many splendid breeding plumaged Dunlin, formerly known as the Red-Backed Sandpiper.


Other birds seen today were Wood Duck, Northern Shoveler, Common Loon, Great Egret, Snowy egret, Black-Crowned Night-Heron, Glossy Ibis, Osprey and Clapper Rail.
Shorebirds were Black-Bellied Plover, Semiplamated Plover, Oystercatcher, Spotted Sandpiper, Willet, both Yellowlegs species, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper and Short-Billed Dowitcher.
Terns seen were Gull-Billed, Caspian & Forsters, and Black Skimmer.  Swallows were Purple Martin, Tree and Barn Swallows.  Passerines were Eastern Kingbird and White-Eyed Vireo

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 27 - Nassau, Bahamas

The last week of April brought me to the Caribbean Island of New Providence in the Bahamas.  Specifically the Cable Beach area of Nassau.  While this was not a birding trip & without a car, I did manage to see a few species on foot.  Notable was the Bahama Woodstar, of which an individual was seen in Pennsylvania just a few days before my trip.  Unfortunately I did not see that bird, but was able to see a few while on vacation.

Other birds seen were Red-Legged Thrush, Black-faced Grassquit, Cuban Grassquit, Banaquit, and Ruddy Turnstones.  Doves were represented by the Eurasian-Collared, Mourning, and Ground species.   I saw a Northen Parula, American Redstart and Green Heron.


Bahama Woodstar
Cuban Grassquit


So that brings us to May, the most-exciting month for birds in the northeastern US !!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April 21 - East Point Marina

Today we went chasing the Ruff that had been reported on eastern Long Island the prior weekend.  Fortunately the bird has stuck around long enough for me to go for it.  After a short wait the near-breeding plumaged male Ruff made it appearance.  A terrific photo of the bird can be seen on friend Andrew Baksh's blog.

click image to enlarge

We also saw Boat-Tailed Grackle, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Willet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Dunlin, Least Sandpiper, and Tree Swallows.

Friday, April 12, 2013

April 12 - Point View Reservior

A late season storm brought with it reports of several birds being seen at unusual locations in the area. Thanks to Dan Paolillo who told me about some sea-ducks that he had found on the large municipal water supply locatined in Wayne,  known as the Point View Reservoir.

I made a brief stop here after work in fading light & drizzling rainfall and was able to tally several County-Records of species that are typically found on the ocean and it's bays.  These were  Long-Tailed Duck, Red-Breasted Merganser, Horned Grebe.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

April 7 - South Amboy and Garret Mountain

On a very chilly day due to the high winds friends Bill, Andy, and Jen accompanied me to the Rariton River waterfront in South Amboy. Here we were able to view the Black-Headed Gull that had been reported here.  This was my first sighting of this species in a few years.  Other gull species seen were Great Black-Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Ring-Billed Gull and Bonaparte's Gull and Laughing Gull.
Other birds seen were the spring arrivals of American Oystercatcher and Osprey.

On the way home we stopped at Garret Mountain and had some more spring returnees of Phoebe, Blue-Winged Teal, Rough-Winged Swallow, both Kinglet species, and warblers of Pine, Palm and Louisiana Waterthrush.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30 - Southwestern NJ rarities

The hotspot for rarities has been Salem County in southwestern NJ, so my friends and I sent there today.  First up was the Tufted Duck seen in Parvin State Park.  This bird was seen well and the park also had my first Pine Warblers of the spring.

For more of Karl Lukens' fine images of this bird visit here

Later over at Featherbed Lane, Jennifer was able to find the Yellow-Headed Blackbird for our group.

Finally on Kings Highway we were able to spot the Crested Caracara and enjoy long looks at this bird.

 credit:  NJAudubon

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24 - Spruce Run

As it's time for Gulls to be on the move back to breeding grounds today's stop was at Spruce Run.   Although we missed the Glaucous Gull that had been reported yesterday, we did connect with an Iceland Gull and several dozen of the Lesser Black-Backed Gulls. A few Tree Swallows were about as well.   Spring is here and each day will bring new arrivals.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17 - Return to Garret Mountain

Today was my first return to Garret since last fall's migration.  I was surprised to see how many trees, especially the White Pines along Mountain Road, have been devastated by last year's Hurricane Sandy.   The loss of understory, due to year-round grazing by deer, combined with this recent blow-down will hurt the park even more.  One can hope that new growth can happen around & under the fallen trees while also remaining out of touch for the Deer.  Only time can tell this answer. 

For the birds I was able to get fine views of a handful of American Woodcock, also a half-dozen Tree Swallows, and several Eastern Phoebes.  Once April comes I'm sure to be at this park almost daily into Mid-May, at least when its not raining...or when the winds are out of the East.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16 - Pacific Loon Squared

This morning I made a return trip to Morris Plains for longer & better looks at the 1st-ever record of Pacific Loon in Morris County.  The last time here was at first light and brief as I had to get to work.  Arriving in the late morning at the pond on American Road it proved to have much better light and allowed for terrific views. The bird was also diving less and preening more, so the looks were terrific.

I received word that a second Pacific Loon was being seen on nearby Lake Parsippany, just about 3 miles away from American Road.  This bird is an adult, being much darker than the American Road bird.   I was able to connect with this bird too for a very surprising 2nd-ever record for the county.

See the pictures that Jonathan Klizas took of this second Pacific Loon

Compare the American Road juvenile against the Lake Parsippany Adult with the all-dark back.
click to enlarge

photo credit: Jonathan Klizas