Category for Spring Birding

Pine Warblers – Garret Mountain – April 16th, 2014

Pine Warbler Pair - Garret Mountain
Pine Warbler

It was a cold lunch time walk around Garret Mountain today and it was tough to revert back to coat weather after such a mild week last week. On days like this, where you may have less overall bird movement, I like to find the select locations that hold birds and try to find a “bird story” to watch.  With breeding activity and migration birds in food munchies mode, I like to take that opportunity to spend some time watching in one place (as opposed to attempting to cover as much ground as possible).  If you can find a spot with high gnat/bug content, early green growth, or even a bathing area you can sometimes come across some fun stuff.

I knew the bugs on Wilson Ave and the White Pine trees there had been really good so far this year for Pine and Palm warblers with some of the higher bird activity in the park.  I walked down the path, past the 2 Canadian Geese moms on nests, past a pair or Downy Woodpeckers mating and came across two foraging Pine Warblers. This is what I was looking for. I just parked and watched as they quietly went about gleaning insects and following each other around. Its easy to get lost in the motion and natural wonder of these little creatures going about their business. Sometimes simply finding a good spot to watch from can be the most rewarding!

Here are a couple pictures of the couple. You can go to my Flickr page to see all of the photos I uploaded.

Pine Warbler Pair - Garret Mountain
Pine Warblers

Pine Warbler Pair - Garret Mountain
Male Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler Pair - Garret Mountain
Female Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler Pair - Garret Mountain
Pine Warbler

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Yellow-throated Warbler – Garret Mountain – April 11th, 2014

Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler

I was watching Tom Auer’s tweets and blog (Check it out its a great thing to keep an eye on as a North Eastern birder http://tomauer.com/blog/?p=551) and I was very interested to see if any southern or early bird would be pushed up by recent migration conditions. Of course you can never be certain when something came in and how, but I was very happy to see a beautiful Yellow-throated Warbler!  This is only the second one I have seen at Garret ever (quite plentiful south at Belleplain and even along the Delaware at Bull’s Island) so I was thrilled to find it gleaning insects (LOTS of gnats on the hill on Wilson Ave) with a large number of Pine and Palm Warblers. Fantastic. I am curious how other parts of the Northeast made out today.

There were quite a few dull Pine Warblers (imm/female) around today that I hadn’t noticed all week. Today I saw 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers as well (have been hard to find this week)  and another Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (yesterday was FOS). Should be a nice weekend of weather for birds so hopefully the Yellow-throated sticks around!

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-throated Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

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Garret Mountain – April 7th, 2014

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

I mentioned that the pictures get better as we move through the Spring and more birds are around to be seen. Today proved that out. There were 20+ Palms around Garret today with the stunning guy above one of the many. Some nice bright male Pine Warblers and 2 Rusty Blackbirds (FOS). The Red-headed Woodpecker was around and 5 Winter Wrens. Not bad for early April! (No Waterthrush again today :()

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

Winter Wren
Winter Wren

Rusty Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird

Eastern Towhee
Eastern Towhee

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A Palm Sunday…and the schedule of upcoming guests

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

Today was another nice day for a walk around Barbour’s pond at Garret Mountain. Early in April the birds you will see can be estimated and hoped for, but you never know what has blown in or picked up and moved on.

The last few days of March and the first week and a half are usually pretty consistent for Pine Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush (first/second week of April), Winter Wren and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and at the end of the run Palm Warblers. Lots of Palm Warblers. :) It is rare for me to make multiple trips to Garret during this time period and not see some or all of these. It is always a nice feeling to hear the first Pine Warbler song, see the Mourning Cloak fluttering past and watch the first Waterthrush bob its tail picking through the steam’s edges. All feels right with the world when these timings we become used to play out as expected in front of us with no human intervention required (or desired for that matter).

The second and third week of April usually bring in the next “wave” of migrants. This time is always interesting because an “early” member from the later groups can make guest appearances wetting your beak for the pending invasion you know sits waiting on waves of weather from the south. May is when those flood gates usually open, unleashing the traveling hordes through our borders. (happily mind you :)) So, the second and third weeks of April can bring Black-and-white Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ovenbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Rusty Blackbird, Blue-headed Vireo, Lincoln’s Sparrow (uncommon), and circling Broad-winged Hawks.

Near the end of the third week (20s and on) comes the opportunity for Northern Parula and Black-throated Green Warblers. American Redstart is close behind as well. Orchard Oriole is also a bird that can make an early appearance at this time. Soon, Black-throated Blue and Green Warblers will serenade your entrance at the top of the park on Early May Saturday mornings welcoming you to a day of wonderful migrants abound. Orioles, Grosbeaks, Warblers, Vireos, Tanagers and Flycatchers scour the trees for inch worms and active bugs while eager Cuckoos pick through Tent caterpillars. It really is a wonderful time. So, the schedule is out there. Time has shown the migrator’s hand and its only up to us to show up and see it played! My favorite time of the year to be sure!

Today was “a” Palm Sunday as we came across a conservative estimate of 12 Palms flocked with Golden-crowned Kinglets (seemingly exclusively as no Ruby-crowned yet). Not much else “new” but nice to see fellow birding friends and catch up and prepare for what lies ahead. :)

Fun facts: In looking at my photos of 2008-2014 here are a couple of the possible April early birds and their dates: Hooded Warbler, April 10th, 2010, Northern Parula – April 7th, 2011. Keep your eyes open and Good Birding!

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

Red Fox
Red Fox @ Great Swamp

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Garret Mountain – April 3rd, 2014

Louisiana Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush

Ahhh Spring. For some time now it is been “technically” Spring, but it sure hasn’t felt like it. We are just getting through a very cold and long winter and it was a nice relief today to simply take a walk around Garret in a light coat and take in the sun.

The first week of April is a great time at Garret to seek out some of the early Spring arrivals. Pine Warbler, Winter Wren and Louisiana Waterthrush are some of my favorite birds and can be found precisely this time of year at Garret. I parked at the top of Wilson and had 2 of the 3 within the first 10 minutes of my walk. A Winter Wren popped out of a pile of broken logs and twigs (very Winter Wren appropriate!) and hopped along the stream’s edge at the bottom of Wilson. (We saw at least 3 Winter Wrens around Garret today) Then, a bright yellow male Pine Warbler came into my view testing my small movement periphery skills. The bright yellow stood out, but the size compared to the many Golden-crowned Kinglets around also was telling. He didn’t call or sing at all so I will have to wait for my first Pine song of the year but I was happy with my first male (I had a female @ Charles H Rodgers in Princeton which was a FOS yesterday). The path on Wilson turned up more Golden-crowned Kinglets and a single Yellow-rumped Warbler and 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

We then headed down towards the stream behind the boat house hoping to see the regular Louisiana Waterthrush. Sure enough, not even yet onto the path one popped into view and began working the rocks and stream sides for food pumping its tail all the way. Its officially Spring once I see a Louisiana Waterthrush. :) Awesome bird. There was also a Winter Wren here and more GC Kinglets. No Killdeer here yet for me and no Palm Warbler.

We continued our walk and had 3 awesome (slightly later than normal) Fox Sparrows working with a flock of White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. Pretty orangy, (yes that’s an official color description I made up :)) none of them were the deep brick red but they were a pleasure to see! We also came across a pair of Eastern Phoebes on our walk past the picnic area and a first for me at Garret, a young male Red-headed Woodpecker!

A nice start to the spring walks at Garret.

(Early pictures of the spring are usually some of the worst due to minimal birds and fleeting views. These represent that to be true. :) Here they are anyways. If history proves true they will improve as the Spring moves on.)
Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

Louisiana WaterthrushLouisiana Waterthrush

Brown Creeper
Brown Creeper

Winter Wren
Winter Wren

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker

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Garret Mountain – May 15th – 17th, 2013

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher

A really nice week of birding this week at Garret! I had 26 different Warbler species and had Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, and Cape May almost daily (in my experience these are all tough to get). Although not the big fallout days where birds were dripping off all the trees, there have been strong large flocks of birds that can be found and then identified. I am sure my improved song recognition has helped this year as many were found after hearing them sing and then tracking them down. On Thursday, a pair of Wilson’s Warblers and finally a Lincoln’s Sparrow. On Friday, nice looks at Tennessee and an Olive-sided Flycatcher!

Always fun seeing the birds and birders at Garret in the Spring! Also, at the end of this post I am including a map of Garret with suggested birding routes for people new to the park. I know I would have like to have this information starting out as the big park can be frustrating when the part you are at is quite yet people keep reporting great birds! Just keep on moving along through the park and you are bound to come across singing flocks. The green, haphazardly done lines are for morning (I like to start at the top of Garret if you are there early) and then the red if you get there in the mid-day or afternoon. Of course it is always variable and any part of the park can be amazing but this is based on my experience and the places I like to bird. I will put up another post next week with a final list of the Garret birds seen. For today just some pictures from the week and the map. Good Spring Birding All!

Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler

Lincoln's Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

And below finally just some of my suggestions on Garret Mountain birding routes: (Green if you start in the morning and then do Red.  If you start in the afternoon/mid-day I usually just do the Red)

 photo GarretPath_zpse3858f8f.jpg

 More Pics at our Flickr Site!

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Garret Mountain – Picture Day! May 10th, 2013

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler
You know its a good day of birding when you get home and still hear bird song in your head. I was watching the Rangers swearing there was a Black-throated Blue Warbler at the game. Anyways, it was another good day at Garret! 17 Warbler species and 4 Vireo! Picked up a singing Hooded Warbler 2 calling Blue-winged Warbler and multiple Magnolia Warbler that I didn’t see yesterday. It must have been picture day because there was an amazing Magnolia on Wilson who wanted his picture taken and a super cooperative Black-throated Green Warbler near the pond where the Warbling Vireo and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers hang out.  My favorites of the day were two towards the end of the day in a single Bay-breasted Warbler (on the hill on Wilson) and a Yellow-throated Vireo (behind the Boat House building on the pond up the stream a ways).  If the weather holds it should be another good day for the World Series of Birding at Garret! Will probably see many teams starting there tomorrow morning.

Black-throated Green WarblerBlack-throated Green Warbler

Some of the numbers:

Nashville Warbler (1), Blue-winged Warbler (2), Chestnut-sided Warbler (1), Northern Parula (10+), Yellow Warbler (2), Prairie Warbler (1), Palm Warbler (1), Magnolia Warbler (4), Yellow-rumped Warbler (10+), Black-throated Green Warbler (10+), Black-throated Blue Warbler (10+), Bay-breasted Warbler (1), Blackpoll Warbler (1), Black-and-white Warbler (10+), American Redstart (10+), Common Yellowthroat (5+) , Ovenbird (10+), Hooded Warbler (1).

Yellow-throated Vireo (1), Blue-headed Vireo (3), Red-eyed Vireo (5), Warbling Vireo (5)

Both Baltimore and Orchard Oriole, Scarlet Tanager and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Many Veery and Wood Thrush a single Swainson’s Thrush.

Scarlet TanagerScarlet Tanager

Black-throated Blue WarblerBlack-throated Blue Warbler

Bay-breasted WarblerBay-breasted Warbler

 More Pics at our Flickr Site!

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Migration…Finally…

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
It has been a very slow start to the expected heavier migration into the Northeast this year.  The big movements of birds usually kicks off in the waning days of April or the first week of May. Unfavorable conditions (a migration sucking high pressure system and inclement weather in the southeast), had diverted birds west (based on discussions by much more qualified people than myself) or had them staged waiting in the southern half of the country.  The story can be seen unfolding over @ Woodcreeper.com (check my previous year’s recommendations of David La Puma’s excellent work) and Tom Auer’s contribution to the Migration via Radar forecast, at his personal blog covering the Northeast.  I check these regularly and was ecstatic to see today hope for a big push finally come to release the birds into our waiting migrant “traps.”

Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
I was optimistic even with the possibility of rain. It has been so slow I had reserved to bird from the car if need be to finally get a look at some new travelers! Not long did I wait as I drove into Garret.

Blackpoll Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
I like entering the park at the high side and then driving down and around the mountain, listening for the participants that may be in store for the day.  For the last week and a half I was met with Robins and a whole lot of silence on this drive in.  Today was different (admittedly the build up here is a bit theatrical but its two weeks late! :)), and I heard Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Parula along with Baltimore Orioles welcoming me in. YES. I started out on Wilson Ave to a huge flock of birds that were on the slope at the end of the main road. I heard Black-throated Blue Warblers and more Parula and many Ovenbird. I got on the Blues and the aforementioned  Black-throated Green Warblers along with a surprising multiple Blackpoll Warblers (usually a later warbler, but with this years pattern tough to say) singing  away. Palm Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Redstart and Yellow Warblers were present here.

Prairie Warbler
Prairie Warbler
The rest of the walk around Garret was full of birds with the Baltimore Orioles in in force and a pair of Orchard Orioles.  We had Scarlet Tanagers and Great-crested Flycatchers and the pond held a Yellowlegs a Spotted Sandpiper and a Solitary Sandpiper.  The resident Killdeer parents ushered around 4 babies that escaped all the water and the Common Yellowthroat seemed just fine with the conditions. (Mostly males only 1 female seen all day).  Further up above the tiered lot we had multiple male Scarlet Tanagers and the GC Flycatcher along with my only Chestnut-sided Warbler of the day and a Nashville Warbler. A final pass around Barbours pond produced a single male Prairie Warbler along with more Veery and Wood Thrush also moving in heavier. Notable misses were no Rose-breasted Grosbeak for me (other reported) and no Northern Waterthrush (others had) or Magnolia Warbler which would be expected. I am sure they will be soon found in the days to come as the weather should keep the park busy and the weekends forecast looks bright. My favorite time of year has arrived and although late, as the saying goes, better late than never!

Some pics from this past week and today:

Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole
American Redstart
American Redstart

 More Pics at our Flickr Site!

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April 26th, 2013 – Garret Mountain

Black-and-White Warbler

 Black-and-White Warbler

Another nice day at Garret. Still waiting for the next big push of migrants to bring in the variety of Warbler and Orioles and Grosbeaks. With some southern winds coming after days of northern winds (presumably a warm front coming in after a semi-cold front) I am hoping this weekend should bring some new migrants in.  Today had a FOS (First of Spring) Baltimore Oriole (1) and Louisiana Waterthrush (I missed the early weeks at Garret when they are regular). Also had quite a few Black-and-White Warblers again along with Palm Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Had Warbling Vireo singing (yesterday was FOS) and quite a few Blue-headed Vireo still around. Had a great look at a Broad-winged Hawk near the top of Garret which was awesome. Reports of single Northern Parula and Black-throated Green Warbler are as expected (I missed these) and I hope to see them this weekend too!

A few more pics from today.

Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk
 
Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

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Spring is Back…Garret Mountain – April 24th, 2013

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

Nice grouping of the usual’s for this time. I had two Blue-headed Vireo and a number of Palm, Yellow-rumped and Black-and-White Warblers and heard an Ovenbird. There were reports of Black-throated Green that I did not see. Winter Wren, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Pileated Woodpecker were also seen. Over the next 14 days Garret Mounting will turn into migration super highway and this calm before the storm is exciting! My absolute favorite migration trap in New Jersey in the Spring! Happy its back again.

Blue-headed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo

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