Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | May 11, 2014

Cheep Trills: World Series of Birding ’14


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.


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)


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.


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!


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



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