Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 27 - Couch's Kingbird in New York State

A first State-record for New York was reported this week in the form of a Couch's Kingbird.
This species is typically seen in the Rio Grande Valley region of southernmost Texas !

Even more surprising is that the bird was found in downtown Manhattan's Greenwich Village !

Here's a link to a New York Post article on the rarity

And the 10000birds page with the back-story & more photos

My favorite pic from Corey's, showing the diagnostic chin & culmen.
click to enlarge

A Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker was also present, as was a Downy Woodpecker.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 20 - Barred Owl & Red-Necked Grebe

This morning I stayed local and tried to see some Owls. I tried to see if there were any Long-Eared Owls, or perhaps a Northern Saw-Whet Owl, however I was only able to find the Barred Owl.  
Although this was very enjoyable as I had not seen one since last December 2013 !

After the Owl I decided to visit some local ponds/lakes, and was rewarded by sighting a Red-Necked Grebe on Pompton Lake.   This represents my first Red-Necked Grebe within Passaic County!


Friday, December 19, 2014

December 19 - Trumpeter Swans in New Jersey

This morning I took a ride south to Monmouth County's Assunpink Wildlife Management Area.  My purpose was to see the three Trumpeter Swans which have setup shop here for the winter...

This species has been re-introduced, and I have seen them several times before in states like Connecticut & New York, and the species is now countable in New Jersey.  So I went to take another look at them...

credit: Alan Wilson

After seeing these Swans, I then stopped at Lake Etra in Mercer County.  Recently it has been reported that a Pink-Footed Goose, along with several Greater White-Fronted Geese, and a Cackling Goose have been seen with regularity.  Well that is if you get here very early before the geese fly out to the nearby fields of corn-stubble to feed during the daytime.
I was able to see the PF Goose and three Greater White-Fronted Geese )others saw a fourth) but I did not locate a Cackling Goose.

Then it was time to head to work....

Sunday, December 07, 2014

December 7 - Monmouth County Rare Geese

We headed down to Sandy Hook this morning and found the very strong winds were keeping the birds out of view.  However, we did locate a Snowy Owl here, which was a female.

Next we headed farther south to Spring Lake's Wreck Pond for the Ross' Goose which had been reported here the past few days, as well as less than 1 hour before we arrived.  Surprisingly the Small White Goose was nowhere to be seen despite searching by many.  As we were already on borrowed time, we then started heading home going westbound on Allaire Road toward the highway.  It was then that I noticed a white goose in flight above a small horse farm.  We pulled over at the Wall Intermediate School and went over to the horse field where we saw the target birds of Ross' Goose.

credit: Alyssa Della Fave

While I was posting about the Ross' Goose being refound, one of our group  stated that he may have a Greater White-Fronted Goose in the flock, however when we all got onto that bird we realized it was a Pink-Footed Goose !  I then called friends Rob F. and Lisa F.  as they too had been over at Wreck Pond looking for the Ross' Goose.  This is the first record of Pink-Footed Goose for this year in New Jersey, so hopefully many will get to see this bird over the next few days.

credit: Alyssa Della Fave

Finally we had to get back on the road, yet we found a few minutes to stop along Randolph Road in Somerset County to get a quick glimpse of the 8 Sandhill Cranes there.

After a quiet start to our day, we made the most of the second half so it turned out to be a productive, and fun, day !

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November 29 - Cassin's Kingbird in Brooklyn

Today we chased a rarity in Brooklyn's Floyd Bennet Field Park.  The species is the Cassin;s Kingbird.

click to enlarge

This rarity is a bird of the southwest, here is the Range Map.

credit: S.Dakota Birds

When we arrived we were told of the typical birder's was here 5 minutes ago....
It took us a little while to re-locate the bird, but Andy's sharp eyes found it inside the Community Gardens there, which allowed the dozen birders present to enjoy this rarity.

A detailed story from the Times Union is here

Here's a short video posted by Corey Finger to youtube 

Earlier in the morning we had been at Long Island's Jones Beach, specifically the West End where we got to see the Common Ground-Dove, as well as, some Lapland Longspurs and an American Pipit.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 13 - Whiskered Tern at Cape May

Today I saw an extremely rare bird for North America in the Whiskered Tern

1 Cape May, CAP 12-13 Jul 1993
2 Cape May, CAP 8-12 Aug 1998

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25 - Lord Stirling & Great Swamp

At Lord Stirling we had a Prothonotary Warbler and a very cooperative Mourning Warbler. We heard Alder Flycatcher and another Mourning Warbler

At Great Swamp Overlook we had another Alder Fly, and a flyby Sandhill Crane

Saturday, May 24, 2014

May 24 - Doodletown

Out with the regular group for a half-day so we chose Doodletown, NY which is just south of the Bear Mountain Bridge.  Today we saw 4 Kentucky Warblers, so it seems as though there are two separate breeding pairs !  It's not often that you mention a warbler before the beautiful Cerulean Warbler, however the Kentucky is rarer, as evidenced by the almost dozen Ceruleans we saw, including one female bringing food to it's nest !

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16 - Swainson's Warbler !!

Finally, after waiting to see this bird for more than 12 years I got to see one at my local spot of Garret Mountain.
I received the Rare Bird Alert at work and immediately left to go the 15+ miles to the location.  Fortunately the bird remained there for me to enjoy for over an hour.

Credit: Jim Kuehlke

Photo: Larry Scacchetti

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12 - Cuckoos & Nighthawk

A brief visit for one hour before work today yielded a pair of Yellow-Billed Cuckoos & a single Black-Billed Cuckoo.  A flyover Common Nighthawk eventually landed and showed quite well on it's perch.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11 - Garretus Borealis

Today was another fine day, topped off with the boreal birds of Bay-Breasted, Blackpoll, Cape May, and Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher.

Today's slightly different mix of 24 warblers were: Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Blue-Winged, Black-and-White, Tennessee, Orange-Crowned, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Bay-Breasted, Cape May, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow, Chestnut-Sided, Blackpoll, Black-Throated Blue, Pine, Yellow-Rumped, Prairie, Black-Throated Green, Canada, and Wilson's all being seen.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10 - Garret Mountain hot streak continues...

The foggy conditions persisted throughout the overnight and most of this day.  The continuing Least Bittern was spotted by Jennifer and we all got some of our best looks as this bird.

The best bird of the day was the Golden-Winged Warbler that was found by Bill Elrick just past 8 o'clock this morning.  Fortunately for me the bird remained in the area for a long time and I got to see it for the first time within this park

The amazing Wood-Warbler show continued with 24 species of Ovenbird, Worm-Eating, Northern Waterthrush, Blue-Winged, the Golden-Winged, Black-and-White, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Cape May, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow, Chestnut-
Sided, Blackpoll, Black-Throated Blue, Palm, Pine, Yellow-Rumped, Prairie, Black-Throated Green, Canada, and Wilson's all being seen well & with several of each.  We heard Cerulean but did not see it.

We also had a very strong candidate for Bicknell's Thrush, however the bird did not sing.

At last, I was able to see Pileated Woodpecker in this park after birding here since 2000.
So I added two Park birds today !

Friday, May 09, 2014

May 9 - Foggy Morning at Garret Mountain

After the rains I intended to go straight into Work today but when I got outside I heard many birds actively calling, so I made a detour to Garret and spent about 2.5 hours here although I wish I had stayed even longer!

The 18 warbler species today were:
Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Blue-Winged, Black-and-White, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Cape May, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Yellow, Chestnut-Sided, Black-Throated Blue, Yellow-Rumped, Black-Throated Green, Canada, and Wilson's.

The Least Bittern was seen again today! And my first Lincoln's Sparrow of the year.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

May 8 - Doty Road Cliff Swallows

I made a brief check here on my way home from work and found that the resident Cliff Swallows had returned in strong numbers with 16 being seen

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

May 7 - Halifax Road

After work today I stopped at Halifax Road in Mahwah.  Here an Orange-Crowned Warbler had been reported and after a short while I was able to get a quick view of the bird.  Also seen today was a cooperative Wilson's Warbler and a pair of Solitary Sandpipers.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

May 4 - Garret Mountain

A good early spring day on the Mountain today.  The following 16 Wood Warblers were seen:
Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Blue-Winged, Black-and-White, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Chestnut-Sided, Black-Throated Blue, Palm, Pine, Yellow-Rumped, and Black-Throated Green.

Other highlights were the continuing Least Bittern, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Peregrine Falcon, Yellow-Throated Vireo, Blue-Headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, House Wren, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Saturday, May 03, 2014

May 3 - Twenty Warbler Day at Garret Mountain

Highlight was the Least Bittern !   This is a very rare bird for this park, and I have never seen it here before.  The morning was quite good with the following 20 Wood Warblers seen:
Ovenbird, Worm-Eating, Northern Waterthrush, Blue-Winged, Black-and-White, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, American Redstart, Cape May, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Chestnut-Sided, Black-throated Blue, Palm, Pine, Yellow-rumped, Prairie, and Black-Throated Green.

Other good birds today were American Woodcock, Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-Throated Vireo, Veery, Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Orchard Oriole & Baltimore Oriole.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23 - Southern NJ Rarities

Today we took a trip down to Salem County in hopes of seeing Yellow-Headed Blackbirds, and possibly some early arriving spring migrants.  Once we reached the open fields of the Featherbed Lane Wildlife Management Area, we spotted a beautiful male Ring-Necked Pheasant strutting though the fields.   Next we spent about 2 hours examining the large mixed-flocks of returning Blackbirds.  Here we saw Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brown-Headed Cowbirds, Common Grackles, and European Starlings.  Finally at the Kings Highway Feedlot we briefly saw a female Yellow-Headed Blackbird.  We then continued looking at the large flock about 100-150 yards south of the feedlot and I was able to locate a stunning male Yellow-Headed Blackbird.

Here's am image similar to what we saw today.

After enjoying some other good birds in the area, I received a text alert that friend Rob Fanning had located a mega-rarity down at Cape May.  We made the 90-minute drive and after a short wait we all got to see a life bird in the form of this Eurasian Tree-Sparrow !!

credit: Sam Galick

This bird may be the first accepted State-Record for New Jersey !

Sunday, March 02, 2014

March 2 - Suffolk County Geese

Our regular group went east this morning out to the town of Riverhead in Long Island's Suffolk County.

The targets we geese and we had quite a few !  We ended up seeing the pair of Pink-Footed Geese that were reported a few days ago.  Also seen today was a Ross' Goose, and a Greater White-Fronted Goose.
We also picked out a flyover Cackling Goose

On nearby Pier Road we had this adult Iceland Gull

credit: Bill Elrick

Sunday, February 09, 2014

February 9 - Common Murre, Brigantine NWR, and Western Grebe

Out by myself this morning I decided to take the long ride down toward Cape May because there was a rare bird being seen in Wildwood Crest.   A Common Murre had been reported a few days earlier om the bay side in Sunset Lake.
I arrived just after first light and quickly got on the bird. Although it was actively feeding at first, the bird was very close to shore.   Later after the feeding frenzy was completed, the bird then was a little farther out into the lake, but then was staying above the water for long periods, offering great looks at this species.   This is my first record of Common Murre in New Jersey !

Here's a crappy 'documentation-purpose' only pic that I took with my cellphone.

Also seen here today is another rarity for the area in the bird of Rough-Legged Hawk.  This bird was quite distant on the other side of Sunset Lake, but it's perching & flight-style are easy identifiers for this species.

After birding the local Cape May area for a bit and not seeing anything unusual, I headed back north toward home.  First I stopped at Brigantine to look at some ducks and to get views of Tundra Swans, and the Snowy Owl which has been staying here for quite some time now.  I also spotted a Red-Shouldered Hawk.

I resumed my way north and made one last quick stop in Monmouth Beach.  Here I was able to see the Western Grebe which was found by friend Tommy Boyle a few days earlier.  I had not seen this Grebe in a few years so it was nice to put my eyes on this species once again !

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 18 - Overpeck Park's Greater White-Fronted Goose

After birding on Long Island today, we made a quick stop at Overpeck Park to get a brief view of the Greater White-Fronted Goose that has been here for a few days now.

credit: Larry Scachetti

Earlier today we were out at Jones Beach and we connected with this Northern Shrike

Credit: Bill Elrick

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 17 - Ramsey Barnacle Goose

I made a quick stop at the Ramsey High School after work tonight to get a quick look at the Barnacle Goose.  Likely this is the same bird I saw nearby in December.

Credit: Larry Scachetti

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 12 - North Shore Trip

This morning I was out with friend Bill E. and we birding the areas of the North Shore, basically the coastline & ponds between Point Pleasant and Sandy Hook.
We started at the Manasquan Inlet for a seawatch and here we had the gulls of Iceland & Bonaparte's, and Glaucous, all 3 Scoter species were seen. plus we spotted a Pacific Loon !

Later up in Deal, we had very nice views of a Pacific Loon (possibly the same bird seen earlier in Manasquan ?) and Bill spied a Lesser Black-Backed Gull at Wreck Pond.

Lastly in the Belmar Marina I located a drake Eurasian Wigeon amongst all of the American Wigeon.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

January 4 - Meadowlands Owls

This evening I went to the Richard W. DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst to look for the Short-Eared Owls that has been sen here for a few weeks now.  About 4:30 pm the first of these Owls was seen.  Later we saw a second Owl as well.  Here's a picture by friend Kevin Watson that shows the beauty of these birds.

Credit:  Kevin Watson

Surprisingly we also had a Barn Owl that took a long flight very close to us.  When I saw the completely white underwings I knew this was a different species, and then I saw the heart-shaped facial disk that's characteristic of this species.

Credit: Ashok Khosla

Earlier on the drive in I had seen a light morph of the Rough-Legged Hawk

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

January 1 - Eastern Long Island

This first day of 2014 brings a trip out to the easternmost point that one can drive to in greater New York.  With friends Andy, Jen, & Bill we began the New Year with a sunrise view from Montauk Point.

Unless one were to be there its difficult to explain how over 100 people are doing the same thing, so here's a photo of the parking lot a few minutes before 7:00 am.

Here's the same view 90 minutes later !

On to the expected the water was filled with sea ducks flying all about.  Most numerous are the Scoters and we saw all three species of Black, Surf, and White-Winged quite well.  There were dozens of Razorbills and a single flyby Dovekie !
Other species seen here are many Common Eider (unfortunately we did not see any King Eider), Red-Breasted Mergansers, and several Gull species of Bonaparte's, Ring-Billed, Herring, and Greater Black-Backed.  Several other species of sea ducks were represented in smaller numbers.

After visiting a few other spots in the Montauk area we headed back west to the Shinnecock Inlet.
Here we had wonderful views of Glaucous Gull, and a confiding Iceland Gull which eventually ended up in the parking area.

click to enlarge

credit: Bill Elrick

Finally, once much closer to home, we stopped at Cedar Beach.  Here we were able to see the Gyrfalcon (perhaps the returning bird from last winter?).  This time the bird was perched in a Cedar Tree. After a short bit the Gyrfalcon was harassed by it's smaller, yet no-less fearless, cousin named the Peregrine Falcon.  After strafing the Gyr a few times the 'Grine got its target bird to flush. We then watched a fantastic showing of the two birds interacting in flight for quite some time as the much larger & more powerful Gyr easily avoided the annoying attempts of the attacker.  Soon after the Gyrfalcon flew too far and low into the march for us to see it any longer.
This was a great end to a very good day as it's quite rare to see these two birds together outside of their Arctic homes.