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