Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | May 11, 2014

Cheep Trills: World Series of Birding ’14

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special post to this.great.planet by Rob Fanning

At the stroke of midnight, Team Cheap Trills embarked on a mission to identify as many species as possible (by sight or sound) in a limited Geographic area (in this case Monmouth county)  We started our night birding at Sandy Hook where we tallied our first truly nocturnal bird, a calling BARRED OWL.

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We then ventured to various marshes where our luck was minimal, but we continued to add a bird here and a bird there slowly but surely–highlighted by a distant but distinctly calling WHIP-POOR-WILL! (A member of the Nightjar family named after it’s call–formerly fairly common in Monmouth co but sadly now quite rare) We joked that we can make it to double-digits eventually. But with night comes the promise of sunrise–and as we positioned ourselves at a farmland site for the dawn chorus, we started tallying many species quickly–such as Meadowlark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Wood Thrush, and Bobolink.  We fought dense fog from midnight to mid-morning–but luckily heard birds count–and the good ears of the Cheap Trills paid off at this time. It was a good day for migrants–and we continued to add many new species as we birded woodlands and fields filled with birdsong. One of the highlights was the diversity of warblers, of which we tallied 19 species for the day–with the “best” being the highly sought-after Cape May warbler (which even makes Cape May birders envious)

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As morning turned to early afternoon–we turned our attention to shorebirds, terns, herons,hawks, and waterfowl. We had mixed success here–but turned up some nice finds including Black-bellied Plover, Bald Eagle, Least Tern, Glossy Ibis, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and Common Loon.

With energy running low (we had been birding for approx. 13 hours by then), we ventured back out to Sandy Hook–where we worked the woods hoping to add more species. Again we had mixed success and could not find our 20th warbler, but we did muster some new birds including Swainson’s thrush, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Clapper Rail, Piping Plover, Broad-winged Hawk, a gorgeous and rare for Monmouth Summer Tanager!, and finally an “elusive” for this day Black Vulture! (high fives were exchanged after this one!) These birds were added in between several severe downpours accompanied by lightning.

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We decided to stay at the hook to until nightfall for more nocturnal birds. It paid off in the form of several COMMON NIGHTHAWKS winging overhead, and after 9pm–a calling CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW! (another member of the Nightjar family that is named after it’s call)

Buoyed by this latest addition–we decided to try a few more places for Great Horned and Screech owls–which we had missed earlier in the day. While we never did hear a Great Horned, some whistling by the Cheap Trills members eventually enticed a SCREECH OWL to respond with their distinctive tremolo whistle!–a major thrill for the Trills!  This put our final tally at 145 species–a very respectable total for one county in NJ. After 22 hours of non-stop birding, we decided to call it a day (or night!) and hand in our results to the “Red-eyed Vireos” of Cape May county.

The day was tiring, but more than that it was fun, and the Cheap Trills are proud to help raise funds for Monmouth co. Audubon’s scholarship program, thanks to our generous friends and colleagues. We could not have done this event without you. Thank you!

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Official Team Photo   L-R; Rob Fanning, Lisa Ann Fanning, John Temple, Dena Temple (with Kermit the wondertruck, courtesy of Tom’s Ford, Keyport, NJ)   (photo by Sam Galick) 


 

Complete list below: 145 species

Brant  X
Canada Goose  X
Mute Swan  X
Wood Duck  X
Gadwall  X
Mallard  X
Bufflehead  5     Wreck Pond
Red-breasted Merganser  1     Sandy Hook
Ruddy Duck  X
Wild Turkey  6     Assunpink
Common Loon  2
Double-crested Cormorant  X
Great Blue Heron  X
Great Egret  X
Snowy Egret  X
Green Heron  3
Black-crowned Night-Heron  4
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  1     (near Keyport Fishery)
Glossy Ibis  3
Black Vulture  1
Turkey Vulture  X
Osprey  X
Northern Harrier  1     Sandy Hook
Cooper’s Hawk  2
Bald Eagle  1     Manasquan Res.
Broad-winged Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  X
Clapper Rail  2     1 seen at Sandy Hook – Plum Island
American Oystercatcher  X
Black-bellied Plover  X
Semipalmated Plover  X
Piping Plover  1
Killdeer  X
Spotted Sandpiper  X
Solitary Sandpiper  X
Greater Yellowlegs  X
Willet  X
Lesser Yellowlegs  X
Least Sandpiper  X
Semipalmated Sandpiper  X
Short-billed Dowitcher  X
Laughing Gull  X
Ring-billed Gull  X
Herring Gull  X
Great Black-backed Gull  X
Least Tern  X
Common Tern  X
Forster’s Tern  X
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  X
Mourning Dove  X
Eastern Screech-Owl  1     heard
Barred Owl  2
Common Nighthawk  4
Chuck-will’s-widow  1     heard at Sandy Hook – Atlantic Avenue
Eastern Whip-poor-will  1     heard at Nomoco
Chimney Swift  X
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Red-headed Woodpecker  1     heard at Assunpink
Red-bellied Woodpecker  X
Downy Woodpecker  X
Hairy Woodpecker  X
Northern Flicker  X
American Kestrel  X
Merlin  X
Eastern Wood-Pewee  X
Willow Flycatcher  1     Assunpink Boat launch
Least Flycatcher  X
Eastern Phoebe  X
Great Crested Flycatcher  X
Eastern Kingbird  X
White-eyed Vireo  X
Yellow-throated Vireo  X
Warbling Vireo  X
Red-eyed Vireo  X
Blue Jay  X
American Crow  X
Fish Crow  X
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  X
Purple Martin  X
Tree Swallow  X
Barn Swallow  X
Carolina Chickadee  X
Black-capped Chickadee  1     Sandy Hook
Tufted Titmouse  X
White-breasted Nuthatch  X
House Wren  X
Carolina Wren  X
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  X
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
Eastern Bluebird  1     Allaire
Veery  X
Swainson’s Thrush  1     Sandy Hook
Wood Thrush  X
American Robin  X
Gray Catbird  X
Brown Thrasher  2
Northern Mockingbird  X
European Starling  X
Cedar Waxwing  X
Ovenbird  X
Northern Waterthrush  X
Blue-winged Warbler  X
Black-and-white Warbler  X
Nashville Warbler  X
Common Yellowthroat  X
American Redstart  X
Cape May Warbler  2     males – 1 Allaire, 1 Glimmerglass
Northern Parula  X
Magnolia Warbler  4
Yellow Warbler  X
Blackpoll Warbler  X
Black-throated Blue Warbler  X
Palm Warbler  3     1 Western,  2 Yellow (Sandy Hook)
Pine Warbler  X
Yellow-rumped Warbler  X
Prairie Warbler  2
Black-throated Green Warbler  X
Yellow-breasted Chat  1     heard at Assunpink
Eastern Towhee  X
Chipping Sparrow  X
Field Sparrow  X
Savannah Sparrow  X
Grasshopper Sparrow  X     Polhemus
Song Sparrow  X
Lincoln’s Sparrow  1     Sandy Hook
Swamp Sparrow  X
White-throated Sparrow  X
White-crowned Sparrow  3
Summer Tanager  1     Sandy Hook (rare for location) 1st year male – mostly red
Scarlet Tanager  X
Northern Cardinal  X
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  X
Blue Grosbeak  1
Indigo Bunting  X
Bobolink  X     heard at Polhemus
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Eastern Meadowlark  X     Polhemus
Common Grackle  X
Boat-tailed Grackle  X
Brown-headed Cowbird  X
Orchard Oriole  X
Baltimore Oriole  X
House Finch  X
American Goldfinch  X
House Sparrow  X

 

Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | May 5, 2014

Texas Birding (trip report)

My very first time birding in Texas, and it sure did live up to the legacy – and we didn’t even hit the Valley yet!

Four of us (Rob, Todd, Meg and I) came to texas for a long weekend, and with our sights set on three particular targets… Golden-cheeked Warbler, Black-Capped Vireo and Attwater’s Prairie Chicken (Greater).

We were able to get looks at the Attwater’s Prairie Chickens displaying at Attwater NWR (via a guided Van tour.)

A male Prairie Chicken "shows off" for two females.

A male Prairie Chicken “shows off” for two females.

For our looks at Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-Capped Vireo, we attended the Balcones Canyonlands NWR festival (and met up with fellow NJ birder, Deidre!) And boy did we get looks at these great birds!  (The Vireo is a little more elusive, and hence why I don’t have any photos.)

The Beautiful and Endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler

The Beautiful and Endangered Golden-Cheeked Warbler

We got all three of our targets, and then some!    What an amazing trip… we ended up with 147 species for the trip, and in addition to the lifers, we ended on the last day, with a trip to Shiner, TX (for a quick stop at the Spoetzel Brewery) and a Mississippi Kite show!!! (at least 40 MIKIs circling the skies over Shiner, TX)

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were definitely in abundance, and there were also lots of goodies like White-tailed Hawk, White-tailed Kite, Painted Buntings, Fulvous Whistling Duck, and many other goodies.

All in all, an awesome trip!

..... and we birded till the cow came home!

….. and we birded till the cow came home!

Full list follows:

Date range: Apr 25, 2014 – Apr 28, 2014 Total # of Species: 147
Total # of Checklists: 10
Location(s):   Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR- N. (Prairie Chicken Rd. area); Balcones Canyonlands NWR; Eagle Lake; Galveston; Hornsby Bend (HOTE 037); Palmetto SP (CTC 029); Rice Field Road – Sealy TX; Shiner; St. Edwards Pk (NW Austin); Texas

  • Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
  • Fulvous Whistling-Duck
  • Wood Duck
  • Gadwall
  • Mallard
  • Mottled Duck
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Northern Bobwhite
  • Greater Prairie-Chicken
  • Wild Turkey
  • Eared Grebe
  • Neotropic Cormorant
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Brown Pelican
  • American Bittern
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Cattle EgretEagle Lake
  • Green Heron
  • Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
  • White Ibis
  • White-faced Ibis
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • White-tailed Kite
  • Mississippi Kite
  • Northern Harrier
  • White-tailed Hawk
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Swainson’s Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Common Gallinule
  • American Coot
  • Black-necked Stilt
  • American Avocet
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Semipalmated Plover
  • Killdeer
  • Spotted Sandpiper
  • Solitary Sandpiper
  • Willet
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Sanderling
  • Baird’s Sandpiper
  • Least Sandpiper
  • Pectoral Sandpiper
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Wion’s Phalarope
  • Laughing Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Gull-billed Tern
  • Caspian Tern
  • Forster’s Tern
  • Royal Tern
  • Sandwich Tern
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove
  • White-winged Dove
  • Mourning Dove
  • Inca Dove
  • Common Ground-Dove
  • Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Common Nighthawk
  • Chimney Swift
  • Black-chinned Hummingbird
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Crested Caracara
  • Merlin
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Eastern Wood-Pewee
  • Least Flycatcher
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Vermilion Flycatcher
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Western Kingbird
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Black-capped Vireo
  • Red-eyed Vireo
  • American Crow
  • Common Raven
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  • Purple Martin
  • Bank Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Cliff Swallow
  • Cave Swallow
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Black-crested Titmouse
  • Canyon Wren
  • Sedge Wren
  • Marsh Wren
  • Carolina Wren
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Northern Parula
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Golden-cheeked Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Yellow-breasted Chat
  • Spotted Towhee
  • Clay-colored Sparrow
  • Lark Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Summer Tanager
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  • Blue Grosbeak
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Painted Bunting
  • Dickcissel
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Common Grackle
  • Great-tailed Grackle
  • Bronzed CowbirdEagle Lake
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • House Finch
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Sparrow

Okay, I am just A LITTLE proud OKAY A LOT PROUD!

This morning, we only had a little while to bird Cape May, and it was one of those days where I could not get out of bed, but Cape May was a callin’ and we only had a few hours to “play.”

After we dipped on Black-Headed Gull, we decided to hit the State Park for some year birds.

Just as we were going to turn into the State Park, I said “make a quick right, and see if we can find the EUDO (Eurasian Collared Dove – of which only one remains.)”

So we did our usual route – making the right onto Harvard Ave, stopping at the feeder at 113 Harvard!  House Sparrows, a Song Sparrow, Cardinal, Mourning Dove, …… “That’s a freakin’ Eurasian Tree Sparrow!!!” I heard excitedly from the driver side!

My three and a half year birding repertoire quickly kicked into gear…. Eurasian=Europe and Asia… oh and isn’t that the thing people go to St. Louis for?   I could not believe what I saw before my eyes!

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I LOVE sparrows, and grew up appreciating the House Sparrows that nested in the narrow space between my fourth floor apartment and the building next door and under mom and dad’s air conditioner.

I am sooooo proud of Rob’s patience and abilities to pick out this beauty.  Within minutes of one phone call, the masses had arrived from all over Cape May.

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The quote of the day comes from one Cape May regular who said they were finishing breakfast at Bella Vida (our favorite eatery) and “threw the money down on the table and left.”  :)

Rob has been graciously telling people I get the assist for finding the bird, but it was all him :)

Of course, the record is subject to review by the Rare Bird Committee, but for now, we are enjoying finding this needle in the haystack!

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You may also be interested in this great article on CMBO’s blog:

http://cmboviewfromthecape.blogspot.com/2014/03/eurasian-tree-sparrow.html

Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | March 2, 2014

Birdy 30 contest

The brainchild of Jim Wright, the “Birdy 30″ challenge was fledged when Stiles Thomas declared he was bored one snowy winter day. Jim came up with the idea of a contest where they would go “head to head” for 30 minutes and count birds from their window. That day, Stiles won the coveted Hershey Chocolate Bar prize.   Wright continues:

“Then came the snowstorm of Jan. 21, which closed schools and businesses early. We decided to have another competition, to begin at 3 p.m., and asked acquaintances in our email birding group if they wanted to join in. Looking for a catchy name, à la the “Hour on the Tower,” I dubbed it the Birdy 30.

To our surprise, a dozen birders took the challenge on short notice.

And despite a steady snowfall, folks reported seeing some really cool birds from their windows.

The following day, another snow day for many, we had an encore contest, with folks choosing a half-hour window of their liking.

This time 21 people entered — including folks in North Carolina and Italy — and again we saw some nice birds in addition to the usual feeder suspects. The winning totals: Three people had 15 species.”

Wright added another round this weekend (2/28-3/2/14)

We chose to bird from a historically significant sight, John James Audubon’s First Home in America at Mill Grove in Audubon, PA.

The visitor’s center has a feeder setup – we saw the following:  (we had 12 species, not counting a rehabilitated Great Horned Owl that was being displayed) ;)  Canada Goose, Blue Jay, Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, White-throated Sparrow, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy  Woodpecker, House Finch, Cardinal, Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco, Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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To read more about the Birdy 30, click HERE.

Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | February 27, 2014

Florida Trip Report

Four and a half days in Florida was just enough to cure the New Jersey winter blues. Our itinerary was bird-centric, and we hired noted Florida bird guide, Wes Biggs of Florida Nature Tours to try to help us find our targets, including many of Flordia’s exotics and one special rarity!

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We started in Orlando and soon traveled to Osceola County and made our way to points south (Miami-Dade County, where we focused most of our efforts.) We also birded areas in Hendry County, Pembroke Pines, Brian Piccolo Park, Oscar Scherer Park, Sanibel Island (including J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR and surrounding area,) St. Petersburg and back to Orlando (including a wonderful place called the Orlando Wetlands Park on our own.)

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In total, we saw 137 species of birds (complete list below), several new species of butterflies, many American Alligators and one American Crocodile (pictured).

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While we did not see ALL the species we targeted, we got great looks at many of our lifers, and learned a lot about the natural habitat throughout Florida.

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Keep checking back for some very special “species profiles” of a few of the Florida “specialties” we saw.

Complete Bird list follows (in taxonomic order):

  1. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
  2. Muscovy Duck
  3. American Black Duck
  4. Mallard
  5. Mottled Duck
  6. Blue-winged Teal
  7. Northern Shoveler
  8. Green-winged Teal
  9. Ring-necked Duck
  10. Lesser Scaup
  11. Wild Turkey
  12. Pied-billed Grebe
  13. Wood Stork
  14. Double-crested Cormorant
  15. Anhinga
  16. American White Pelican
  17. Brown Pelican
  18. Great Blue Heron
  19. Great Egret
  20. Snowy Egret
  21. Little Blue Heron
  22. Tricolored Heron
  23. Reddish Egret
  24. Cattle Egret
  25. Green Heron
  26. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  27. White Ibis
  28. Glossy Ibis
  29. Roseate Spoonbill
  30. Black Vulture
  31. Turkey Vulture
  32. Osprey
  33. Snail Kite
  34. Northern Harrier
  35. Sharp-shinned Hawk
  36. Cooper’s Hawk
  37. Bald Eagle
  38. Red-shouldered Hawk
  39. Broad-winged Hawk
  40. Red-tailed Hawk
  41. Sora
  42. Purple Swamphen
  43. Purple Gallinule
  44. Common Gallinule
  45. American Coot
  46. Limpkin
  47. Sandhill Crane
  48. Black-necked Stilt
  49. American Oystercatcher
  50. Black-bellied Plover
  51. Wilson’s Plover
  52. Semipalmated Plover
  53. Piping Plover
  54. Killdeer
  55. Greater Yellowlegs
  56. Willet
  57. Lesser Yellowlegs
  58. Marbled Godwit
  59. Ruddy Turnstone
  60. Sanderling
  61. Dunlin
  62. Least Sandpiper
  63. Western Sandpiper
  64. Short-billed Dowitcher
  65. Long-billed Dowitcher
  66. Wilson’s Snipe
  67. Bonaparte’s Gull
  68. Laughing Gull
  69. Ring-billed Gull
  70. Caspian Tern
  71. Forster’s Tern
  72. Royal Tern
  73. Black Skimmer
  74. Rock Pigeon
  75. White-crowned Pigeon
  76. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  77. Mourning Dove
  78. Common Ground-Dove
  79. Burrowing Owl
  80. Belted Kingfisher
  81. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  82. Downy Woodpecker
  83. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
  84. Northern Flicker
  85. Pileated Woodpecker
  86. Crested Caracara
  87. American Kestrel
  88. Peregrine Falcon
  89. Nanday Parakeet
  90. Monk Parakeet
  91. White-winged Parakeet
  92. Eastern Phoebe
  93. Vermilion Flycatcher
  94. Great Crested Flycatcher
  95. La Sagra’s Flycatcher
  96. Cassin’s Kingbird
  97. Western Kingbird
  98. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
  99. Loggerhead Shrike
  100. White-eyed Vireo
  101. Blue Jay
  102. Florida Scrub-Jay
  103. American Crow
  104. Fish Crow
  105. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  106. Purple Martin
  107. Tree Swallow
  108. Cave Swallow
  109. Tufted Titmouse
  110. Brown-headed Nuthatch
  111. House Wren
  112. Carolina Wren
  113. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  114. Eastern Bluebird
  115. American Robin
  116. Gray Catbird
  117. Brown Thrasher
  118. Northern Mockingbird
  119. Common Myna
  120. European Starling
  121. Black-and-white Warbler
  122. Common Yellowthroat
  123. Northern Parula
  124. Palm Warbler
  125. Pine Warbler
  126. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  127. Prairie Warbler
  128. Eastern Towhee
  129. Bachman’s Sparrow
  130. Savannah Sparrow
  131. Northern Cardinal
  132. Red-winged Blackbird
  133. Eastern Meadowlark
  134. Common Grackle
  135. Boat-tailed Grackle
  136. Brown-headed Cowbird
  137. House Sparrow

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Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | January 29, 2014

Junco Feet in the Snow

This is THE winter for snow lovers! The Dark-eyed Juncos are in their glory too at our feeders.

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Simple things!

Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | January 27, 2014

Tough Love – Bird Chase Style

For every time a birder just walks up to a rare bird “scene” and just looks in someone’s scope, there are times that a rare bird is reported and people spend HOURS searching, in hopes of refinding that bird.

This weekend was one such occasion, when Harvey T reported a Smith’s Longspur at Stone Harbor (confirmed by photo.)

For Rob and me, this was one of those rare occasions that we didn’t have to rearrange 20 things, jump in the car and drive for hours.  We were already down in Cape May for an impromptu weekend getaway.

We did rush from the state park over to Stone Harbor, and joined the search party. Smith’s Longspur is a would-be state bird for many, and a lifebird for me.

So, we scoured the dunes (all I could think was – please don’t let there be any Seabeach Amaranth – so I treaded lightly.)

We searched, and searched, and searched and Rob and I took a break, came back, others left, we continued searching……. well, you get the point.

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We put hours into a bird that we never found!

Will I ever complain? NO! (okay, maybe about my frozen fingers and wet feet, but NOT about the futile search.)

These are the moments that help shape a birder / lister / chaser (whatever you want to call it.)

As I recently responded in a blogpost, “This is the kind of stuff you can’t learn in a field guide.”

Those who had much more field time with this bird described field marks “finely streaked, rufous, crouching, will stay low, sounds like a windup toy…..”

These are birders who travel the world, and charge mucho dinero for the privilege to bird with them, birders who are amazing researchers, birders who I am fortunate enough to call friends in the field.

We didn’t get the bird, after investing many hours, but we did see an incredible amount of Ipswitch Savannah Sparrows. (I have never seen so many in one place!)

I learned a lot about the dunes of Stone Harbor – got to see 2 American Bitterns flush and got the honor of birding with some of New Jersey’s finest.

Would the bird have been the cherry on top? You bet. But I won’t complain!

Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | January 21, 2014

Bird ’till we drop weekend 2014

Traditionally, we take MLK weekend to kick off our year list. This year, the plans were a little aggressive bit doable. Unfortunately, some production issues at work threw a wrinkle in our plans. But all things considered, we did well.

Hindsight: we needed to make it to Cape May to break triple digits.

Day1: Central to North NJ
We started off by listening for Great Horned Owls in the woods behind our home with no luck.
Next, we made our way north to Somerset for our annual Sandhill Crane viewing. We watched as all six flew into the field just after 0730.

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Next, we continued to the Lyons area for an unsuccessful Greater White Fronted Goose search.
The Great Swamp was our next stop in hopes of Barred Owl, but all we saw was a pretty snow scene (unexpected.) We also got to check the feeders at The Raptor Trust.

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Onward to Bergen County on yet more wild goose chases – the continuing Greater White-Fronted Goose at Overpeck Park gave great looks -

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Next stop – Monk Parakeets!
When the ones at Overpeck didn’t show themselves, we made our way to Edgewater without initial success, so we parked our cars, got a snack at Whole Foods and walked back to the main street when 2 noisy flocks totaling 70 birds flew overhead. (Monks- Check)

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Horrendous traffic on route 4 put a cramp in our plans, but we did manage to see 2 Bald Eagles while sitting in traffic.
After detouring, we finally made it to Ramsey where a Barnacle Goose continues with 2 hybrid offspring.
Finally, over to DeKorte for the continuing Barn Owl show. (Thanks to those who helped with the lesson of Barn vs SEO ID in the dark.)

Day2: Central NJ – Monmouth with a twist of Middlesex
We started off by heading west to Assinpink for a look at the continuing imm. Trumpeter Swans. Some Bluebirds joined us for cheer as well!

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After taking a conference call in the car, we made our way to Manasquan for Loons, a surprise Red-Necked Grebe, a surprise Iceland Gull and other goodies.

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Onward to the ponds of the North Shore for the usual suspects and lunch pickup before heading home for football playoffs.
While at home, I saw Pat Belardo’s post about Canvasbacks in Sayreville. I headed out, on my own, as these beautiful ducks have eluded me lately. I also got to enjoy 2 Redheads and a Coopers Hawk that landed in the tree above me. I really enjoyed this new-found spot.

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Day3: South
More conference calls shaped today’s schedule, so we decided to sleep in and headed over to Brig with our friend Linda. No Cape May for us, as planned. :(
But we did have some great birds at Brig, including Tundra Swan, Peregrine Falcon, the usual waterfowl, thousands of Snow Geese and the highlight, one of three reported Snowy Owls – after all, how could we conclude our 2014 kickoff without the year’s mascot?

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After a lunch and social stop, we hit Motts Creek Road just to see what’s out there, we picked up Boat-Tailed Grackle for the weekend and were pretty satisfied with our 85 species, given the hand we were dealt for the weekend.

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Report follows:
Date range: Jan 18, 2014 – Jan 20, 2014

Total # of Species: 85

Total # of Checklists: 18

Location(s):   Assunpink WMA; Burlington; Disposal Rd.; Edgewater (Whole Foods); Edwin B. Forsythe NWR (Brigantine Unit); Edwin B. Forsythe NWRMotts Creek; Freehold; Great Swamp NWR; Majors Pond; Manasquan; Monmouth; Morganville; North Shore Ponds; Ocean; Overpeck County Park; Ramsey; Randolph Road and Schoolhouse Rd; Teaneck

Species Name

  1. Greater White-fronted Goose
  2. Snow Goose
  3. Brant
  4. Barnacle Goose
  5. Barnacle x Cackling Goose (hybrid)
  6. Canada Goose
  7. Mute Swan
  8. Trumpeter Swan
  9. Tundra Swan
  10. Wood Duck
  11. Gadwall
  12. American Wigeon
  13. American Black Duck
  14. Mallard
  15. Northern Shoveler
  16. Northern Pintail
  17. Green-winged Teal
  18. Canvasback
  19. Redhead
  20. Ring-necked Duck
  21. Greater Scaup
  22. Long-tailed Duck
  23. Bufflehead
  24. Hooded Merganser
  25. Common Merganser
  26. Red-breasted Merganser
  27. Ruddy Duck
  28. Common Loon
  29. Horned Grebe
  30. Red-necked Grebe
  31. Double-crested Cormorant
  32. Great Blue Heron
  33. Black Vulture
  34. Turkey Vulture
  35. Northern Harrier
  36. Cooper’s Hawk
  37. Bald Eagle
  38. Red-tailed Hawk
  39. Clapper Rail
  40. American Coot
  41. Sandhill Crane
  42. Black-bellied Plover
  43. Killdeer
  44. Sanderling
  45. Dunlin
  46. Ring-billed Gull
  47. Herring Gull
  48. Iceland Gull
  49. Great Black-backed Gull
  50. Rock Pigeon
  51. Mourning Dove
  52. Barn Owl
  53. Snowy Owl
  54. Belted Kingfisher
  55. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  56. Downy Woodpecker
  57. Hairy Woodpecker
  58. Northern Flicker
  59. Merlin
  60. Peregrine Falcon
  61. Monk Parakeet
  62. Blue Jay
  63. American Crow
  64. Carolina Chickadee
  65. Tufted Titmouse
  66. White-breasted Nuthatch
  67. Brown Creeper
  68. Carolina Wren
  69. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  70. Eastern Bluebird
  71. American Robin
  72. Northern Mockingbird
  73. European Starling
  74. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  75. American Tree Sparrow
  76. Song Sparrow
  77. White-throated Sparrow
  78. Dark-eyed Junco
  79. Northern Cardinal
  80. Red-winged Blackbird
  81. Common Grackle
  82. Boat-tailed Grackle
  83. Brown-headed Cowbird
  84. American Goldfinch
  85. House Sparrow
Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | January 13, 2014

From Prison to the Dumps

After suffering with an upper respiratory infection for 5 days, cabin fever got the best of me. I needed to get out and get air!

So I texted my friend E. to see if she wanted to go look for a bird which was a lifer and nemesis bird for her: Red-headed Woodpecker.

Someone recently told me about a new preserve in Woodbridge, called Oros which had a family of RHWP living there.

When we got there, the trails were flooded out but my friend quickly exclaimed, what’s that on the tree near the bridge? Indeed, an adult Red-headed Woodpecker clinging to a lower branch- check!

The preserve is located off Omar Avenue in Woodbridge and is near the East Jersey State Prison in Rahway, which gave it an eerie feeling at times.

From there, we decided, why not take our chances and head north to the Meadowlands to check out some recent reports. So we got right on the turnpike and a half hour later, we ran into some familiar faces and great birds.

Highlights were:

- Of the three reported Snowy Owls, we saw one individual without effort, just sitting in the middle of the ice in the shorebird pool.

- Andrew pointed out two Rough-legged hawks over one of the landfills on Disposal Road.

- As the golden light set in, we saw at least, two Short-eared owls cruising the landfill near the bus parking lot.

- Deciding to press our luck, we moved further down the road and decided to wait for the resident Barn Owls to appear. As we waited, several of us noticed a green fireball in the sky and couldn’t figure out what it was we had seen. Turns out it was just that- a fireball!

- Soon after (around 5:30 or so,) as darkness set in, 2 light figures cruised the landfill in the darkness – one definite Barn Owl and a probable second (though I am not confident making that call.) We just had ourselves a three owl day! Woot! (Or shall I say, Hoot!)

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“Day is done” Sunset at the Carillon.

Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | January 2, 2014

Kicking off our 2014 year list

Last year did not yield the kinds of numbers I had hoped for as a crazy birder, but it came with good reasons, getting married, lots of adventures (birding and non-birding) and adjusting to a brand new life with my amazing husband.

So this year, I resolved that I would try to once again reach the goal of 300 species in NJ (with my sights set on 325.)

Yes, I know how lucky I am to have Rob by my side, one of the best birders and teachers I know (but then again, I am biased.) So I am really looking forward to a great year! What’s even more exciting is that a good friend of ours who wants to learn more will be joining us in hopes of reaching her goal of 200 NJ Year Birds! That makes me over-the-moon.

Well, we all got off to a great start yesterday. Rob and my first definite ID’d bird was a flock of flying Common Mergansers over the Garden State Parkway, on our way to pick up our friend to head down to Cape May.

Once we got to Cape May, we ran into many birders kicking off THEIR year lists, and joined CMBO’s Kick off your year list walk.

Highlights include:
Pre-walk (and during the walk,) we were able to get great looks at the White-winged Dove and Rufous Hummingbird.

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A young male (Green type) Painted Bunting in the dunes off Harvard Ave.

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A Snowy Owl sitting high in the dunes at Two Mile Beach

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Redheads at Lighthouse Pond.

A great day with great friends and great birds! Cheers to 2014 – May there be more great days with great friends and great birds! :)

Complete list follows:

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Gadwall
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Common Eider
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Red-throated Loon
Horned Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Sanderling
Dunlin
Purple Sandpiper
Bonaparte’s Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
White-winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Snowy Owl
Rufous Hummingbird
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Painted Bunting
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
House Sparrow

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