Category for Summer Birding

Rufous-necked Wood Rail – More!

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

I wanted to put up a few more pictures that I got of the rail on July 17th as the early pictures were so distant. I got to see the rail 3 times over the 4 days! Fun little trip!

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

Here are a couple other pictures of birds (and a moth! :)) seen on the trip:

Phainopepla

Phainopepla

Red-naped Sapsucker

Red-naped Sapsucker

White-lined Sphinx Moth

White-lined Sphinx Moth

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Green-tailed Towhee

Green-tailed Towhee

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Band-tailed Pigeon

Band-tailed Pigeon

A few More Pics at our Flickr Site!

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Rufous-necked Wood Rail! – Bosque Del Apache – New Mexico

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

A coming home of sorts. I spent a good deal of the first 12 years of my life in Los Chavez New Mexico, and would come with my parents every New Year’s Day to Bosque Del Apache to see the Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes (although there also were plenty to be seen in winters around my house in the surrounding fields). I am certain these formative trips and others to the Rio Grande Nature Center helped shape my love for nature, and in particular birds. I got “lost” for 15 years in the highly populated central New Jersey cities and High School, but a re-connection with nature as we moved to the suburbs, also rekindled my love for birds. So it was appropriate that I made it back to Bosque Del Apache for a special bird many years later for the recently found Rufous-necked Wood Rail!

Rufous-necked Wood Rail

There is a great video that Matt Daw (who found the bird) took while taking video of a Least Bittern and the Wood Rail walks right on through behind it completely unexpected! It was as if (to birders that is :)) Elvis had just photo-bombed your family Christmas photo! A special moment indeed. You can see it HERE.

So, with this wonderful sighting by Matt, and the amazing excitement it caused in the birding community, I hatched plans to work my way back to the Bosque.

As luck would have it (and birders no calling this “luck” is certainly appropriate) it worked out that, after being on the board walk for about 5 minutes, out popped the Rufous-necked Wood Rail! Enjoying the bird with all of the local and “migrant” birders was great too. They had all made their pilgrimage to New Mexico for the Wood Rail too. Everyone got to see the bird in the hour + that I was there, and its such a great thing to share in the experience with happy birders! Like opening Christmas presents with kids!

So, I wanted to try to get a few pictures of today and then maybe some better ones over the next 2 days. The pictures aren’t great as they are cropped from the significant distance it was away. What a bird and what a homecoming to an amazing place for birds at the Bosque Del Apache in the Land of Enchantment.

Sunday Wood Rail Waiting Crew!

The Sunday Wood Rail Waiting Crew!

A few More Pics at our Flickr Site!

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Northern Wheatear – Dekorte (Meadowlands) Sept 9th, 2009

Northern Wheatear:

Northern Wheatear
Finally tracked this guy down. Missed two last year, both one day wonders. This one was unbelievably cooperative and a joy to watch. Also, this was my first trip to Dekorte. Really nice place.

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Birding in South Jersey! Sept 20th, 2008

Philadelphia Vireo:

Philadelphia Vireo - Higbee Beach - Sept 20th, 2008

A Northern Wheatear was seen and photographed on Friday so a trip to Cape May on Sat was needed. :) The morning started with no sign of the Wheatear, which may have turned out to be a one day wonder, but quickly turned around with a Golden-winged Warbler and a pair of Philadelphia Vireo.  Higbee produced the mentioned birds with the Warbler making the rounds from the porta-john (is that really what you call them? Whatever, the bathroom things) area through to the path in the far left corner of the parking lot leading to the first field. It was seen all-too-fleetingly on a few occasions by different groups of birders. Mine was identifiable but far from satisfying. On the contrary, we were treated to 2 (at least two there were reports of others and maybe even another individual along with these 2) very obliging Philly Vireos that jumped out into the sun and shown for us all to see. I stopped back by the Hawkwatch to see if the Wheatear had made an appearance and to check on the local goings-on.

Eagle vs. Osprey:

Eagle vs. Osprey Part 4 - Cape May Hawkwatch - Sept 20th, 2008

As usual this time of year, the deck was packed with birders, new and experienced (see how I avoided “old” there? :)) all looking to see what all the fuss was about. The friendly staff, when not tending to the hawk watching, was greeting new visitors and offering whatever assistance they could provide. I heard many asking questions and others borrowing binoculars. All queries met with satisfying answers. Who knows how many “birders” were developed today on that spot. Although my time was short there, I was treated to swooping Merlin, circling Sharp-shinned Hawk and Coopers Hawk, and a pack of beautiful American Kestrel. My main event (and as I understand it was really Round 2) was the Bald Eagle vs. Osprey battle for a late breakfast fish. This happens quite often there and it never gets old. The Osprey does the work of catching the food and then the Eagle swoops in to startle and bully the prize away. They turned and veered and rose and darted, all in close proximity to us eager onlookers. In the end, stamina seemed to win the day when the Eagle made a final go of it only to come up short. The Osprey had won this round. (I heard the earlier occurrence ended with a victorious Eagle) I actually got some pretty cool pictures of this duel and “fun” had truly reigned.

Cattle Egret:

Cattle Egret - The Brig - Sept 20th, 2008
The rest of the morning was put in at the Brig with a wonderfully energetic Cattle Egret and a pack of lounging Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows.

Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow:

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Lark Sparrow – Sept 13th, 2008 @ Sandy Hook

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We took a quick trip to Sandy Hook today and were pointed to a very cooperative Lark Sparrow on the bike path towards Randolph Road. It was on the ground just off the right side of the path. This was just on the other side of the barrier set up in the path as you walk towards Randolph Rd. Not a lot else. Black & White warblers, Common Yellow-throat, Cedar Waxwing, and soaring Osprey were some of the others making appearances. Sandy Hook is having some pretty serious road work done at the entrance to the site. Wondering how that will affect Fall and Winter birding there.

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Birding in Arizona (Not NJ again?!) – Sinaola Wren, Elegant Trogon and Hummingbirds a plenty…

Violet-crowned Hummingbirds:

Violet-crowned Hummingbird - Sept 5th, 2008 - Arizona
Now, I realize this seems to be more about “Birding outside of New Jersey” in recent posts but I can’t help but mention our recent trip to South Eastern Arizona. More New Jersey specific bird blogging upcoming…I promise. :) So Arizona. For all those birders who have experienced this wonderful place it will come as no shock when I say it is truly amazing. I am not stating anything new here, but for a “newer” birder, Arizona brings back that exhilaration of everything being new and a discovery. It’s location and environmental conditions are just right to allow for a wide variety of birds you can see no where else. From year round residents (making discovery a little easier with the ability to keep a “running” track of a particular species in a given area) to Mexican vagrants they are all special in Arizona. It just “feels” like a tropical place. These “zones” exist there that harbor their own specialized species. At one point much of the area was under water with only individual “islands” of mountain or cliff tops visible. This led to select species development with an exaggerated diversity. Some of the birds and birding lead to wonder how all of these differences exist so close together. One second its 50 degrees at over 7000 feet and the next you are surrounded by scalding desert and 105 degrees of “dry” heat.

Jeanette and I were very lucky to have a wonderful guide familiar with all of the differences Arizona has to offer. Rich Hoyer, a WINGS Tour Leader and local birding celebrity (at least it seemed that way with the admiration of all of the local birders :)) gave us two wonderful days of birds, knowledge, and an appreciation for all of Arizona’s extensive wildlife. We birded all of the local “hot spots” and were treated to amazing (there’s that word again) views of birds we had never seen. We got to see (and photograph) a Sinaola Wren, which if accepted, will be the first ever found in the United States. We saw Trogon, and Hummingbirds, and western warblers and flycatchers. We enjoyed orioles and tanagers and communal woodpeckers and Hawks. We basked in birds named “Montezuma”, and “Inca” along side those known as “Tropical” and “Painted”. It was sensory overload and it was one of the greatest times I have ever had. Amazing.

Now some of the birds. This was my holy grail the Elegant Trogon. On my Flickr site this picture got a comment I loved which was “who put that stuffed animal up in that tree???” This guy really, really looks tropical and was worth the entire trip alone.

Elegant Trogon:

Elegant Trogon - Sept 1st 2008 - Huachuca Mountains
Painted Redstart:

Painted Redstart - Sept 4th, 2008 - Mt. Lemmon Arizona
A bird I looked very much forward to the Vermillion Flycatcher was as accessible as he was beautiful.

Vermillion Flycatcher:

Vermillion Flycatcher - August 31st - Arizona
Broad-billed Hummingbird:

Broad-billed Hummingbird - Sept 5th, 2008 - Arizona
At the famous “Patagonia Road Side Rest” we got to see this “strong” looking Zone-tailed Hawk. He had lunch in hand and on his lips. Who doesn’t sample the goods first?

Zone-tailed Hawk:

Zone-tailed Hawk - Sept 2nd, 2008 - Patagonia Roadside Rest
Sooo cool these two Spotted Owls were just resting above a stream. One of the favorites of the trip!

Spotted Owls:

Spotted Owls - Sept 1st, 2008 - Arizona
This was our “big” one. Rich led us right to this first in US sighting. He knew call and song and gave all in attendance a birding memory they wont soon forget. I tried to throw together a bunch of different angles and shots. The clarity isn’t great (its bad) as the bird was some distance away.

Sinaola Wren:

Sinaola Wren - Sonora, Arizona - September 2nd, 2008

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Birding in Maine – A Moose, a Thrush and a whole-lot-of striking out…

Female Blackburnian Warbler:

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So I usually don’t go on about unsuccessful birding trips (it’s just not as fun to talk about them :)), but that is a big part of it and I think what truly makes Birding so special. You can have 10 Billion dollars but you aren’t going to pay a bird to show up for you. The misses make the “gets” that much sweeter. So yes back to Maine. We decided it might be worth 16 hours of driving (8 each way) to go and try to see some of the Boreal species found in northern Maine. There also was the opportunity to see the only truly endemic bird of the Northeast, the Bicknell’s Thrush. So with visions of Boreal Chickadees, Grey Jays, Spruce Grouse, and Black-backed Woodpeckers in our heads we headed off. Fast forward 16 hours and a whole lot of walking and none of the birds mentioned above made and appearance except…for the Bicknell’s Thrush. We briefly saw and heard a single bird who sat singing wonderfully off the side of the Appalachian Trail (Unfortunately, not in the open enough for a picture :() on Route 4 near Rangeley Maine. What a beautifully long melody! Though we missed the area’s specialty birds we did see many Blackburnian Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warblers and Black-throated Green Warblers and 2 Moose! (Its not Mooses is it? :)) Above is a picture of a beautiful female Blackburnian Warbler and below is our friend the Moose.
Moose in Maine:

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Friday, September 14th, 2007 Roseate Spoonbill @ The Brig

Jeanette’s “Favorite Bird of all time,” we saw the Roseate Spoonbill for the third time this summer. This was the closest we had been and we got some great shots. I was able to get out of the car, site on the hood and just watch. He just might be a favorite of mine too.

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Thursday, September 6th, 2007 Prairie Warbler @ The Meadows Cape May

Prairie Warbler @ The Meadows - Cape May Sept 6th 2007
One of our favorites in Spring this Prairie Warbler hung around a good while for us to look at. How can you not like Warblers I ask!?!?

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Thursday, September 6th, 2007 Swallow Corkscrew @ The Meadows Cape May

Swallows @ The Meadows - Cape May Sept 6th 2007
We got our first look at the swallows that inhabit the Cape May meadows at this time of year. They move around in large corkscrews (thousands of birds) and go from bush to bush weighing down their branches with their combined girth. A site to see for sure. And I hear the flock number get larger in the fall!

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