Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 26 - Forsythe NWR

My friends and I took the 2-hour drive down to Edwin B. Forsythe NWR today.  This place is known locally as Brigantine, although it is not nearby Brigantine Island.

Our expectations were measured because of the reports that the water-level in the impoundments is quite high, all due to the federal officials testing the strength of the berms that were rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy.

The impoundments did not offer any good birds, so the birdwatching was done by looking at the tidal channels which are outside of the Wildlife Drive.  Nevertheless, there were nice looking birds to see...starting with adult Blue Grosbeaks along the road to the Gull Pond Tower.  It was a pleasure to see several Whimbrels, although I prefer calling them by their previous name of Hudsonian Curlew.
We saw several species of terns (Forsters, Caspian, Gull-Billed, Least, and a single Royal).

There were many Short-Billed Dowitchers and Semi-Palmated Sandpipers, with a few Least Sandpipers mixed in. We did not spot a Western Sandpiper today, although some have been recently reported.

We did get good looks at Seaside Sparrows, and a couple of the Saltmarsh Sparrows.  A Little Blue Heron was seen too.

Overall an average day at Brigantine.  The next few weeks should bring in some rarities, and these will be followed by large numbers of the common species.  Until next time !

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 19 - Marsh Birds

I woke up without plans and quickly decided to look for some marsh birds.  I headed north to Sussex County and the Vernon Marsh.  Here I took the walk along the railroad tracks for about 1 mile.

 Along the way I saw many species of freshwater marshes like the abundant Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrows Red-Winged Blackbirds, Green Herons, Great-Blue Herons, Gray Catbirds, and Barn Swallows.

Highlights were the 5-6 Least Bitterns that were moving thought the cat-tails, and I also saw a juvenile.  My target bird was heard-only at first but after walking past the spot where the sound came from I caught a glimpse of the Virginia Rail flying across the railroad tracks.  Patience was needed, but it finally paid off as the rail then came out of the grasses for quite a bit and gave me fantastic views for several minutes.   The last time I had seen this species was back in 2007 !!
Here is where I saw the bird.

Later down the tracks the same situation re-occurred, I heard the bird at first and spent 15 minutes waiting for it, I then started walking away and the bird flew across the tracks.  I was also able to see this one but only it's head.
Here is where I stopped walking

I also had a pair of Purple Martins, Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Bluebirds, and some other species.

Later at Liberty Loop I heard another Virginia Rail, and also heard a pair of Sora that were calling frequently. However I waited for an hour but the Sora never came out of the marsh for me to view.

July 18 - Mississippi Kite

Today I had to cancel my plans with Bill because my father-in-law had some complications after his surgery of last week, so I had to go down south to the hospital.
After the issues were cleared up I had some time to go another 30 miles south down to Waretown, NJ.  Here a pair of Mississippi Kites have been reported for several weeks.  Fortunately for me at least one of the kites was perched in the tree when I arrived around 12:30.
There I met another birder named Linda who was taking some photos.  After Linda departed the bird took a short flight to catch an insect, so I got to see more than just a perched bird !

Click to enlarge

credit: Linda Woodfield

Afterward a took a brief trip to the Barnegat Division of the Forsythe NWR
Here I saw a Tricolored Heron.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

July 11 - The Grail Bird

During the afternoon of Friday July 10 there were reports out of Jones Beach that a Red Phalarope was being seen in the ponds near the West End's Teddy Roosevelt Nature Center.  Also this bird was reported to be in breeding plumage !
I had seen hundreds of this species while I was out in California in 2010, with some seen from shore & most others seen while on a pelagic birding boat ride.  However I had never seen the beautiful female in breeding plumage.  I called my friends of Andy and Jennifer to setup a meeting time for the next morning.   We got together at their place around 4:45 am in order to be on the beach just after 6:00.
We had excellent views of this bird for about 90 minutes.

 credit: The Mulberry Wing

credit: Issac Grant

Afterwards we drove to nearby Captree Island and had a brief look at the White-Faced Ibis that had been found by Arie Gilbert earlier this year.

Finally we continued farther east to Connetquot State Park for some fine views of the breeding Yellow-Throated Warblers.  This is a separate subspecies from the Yellow-Throated Warblers that I see in southern NewJersey.

After enduring a 30-minute delay on the George Washington Bridge, we finally made it back to New Jersey where a quick stop at the Richard DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands produced two American White Pelicans, and several Least Terns !