Archive for 2007 November

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 Ash-throated Flycatcher @ Sandy Hook

Ash-throated Flycatcher @ Sandy Hook Nov 2007

Today I got up early and headed out to Sandy Hook to try and see some of the recently reported “Western Rarities.” Townsend’s Solitaire, Western Kingbird, and Ash-throated Flycatcher had all been reported in the last week near the Sandy Hook Boy Scout camp. I arrived around 8:45 AM and met up with other seeking birders. Reports were that the Flycatcher had been seen around 8 AM but no Solitaire or Kingbird was seen yet. So with the rest of the group I wait and looked and waited some more until around 10:30 AM. I then decided to take a quick walk past a half up/half down fence located about 25 yards away from the flag pole itself. As I stepped through the opening in the fence a bird popped up and stood briefly a few feet from my head. I quietly called the other birders over as I knew this was the Ash-throated. Of course, as things go, most only got a quick glance as the bird took off seconds after everyone arrived. He didn’t fly far and myself and two other birders re-found the bird and I snapped a few pictures before he tore off for good. So one out of three is sure better than 0-3. Fun day for sure.

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Sunday, November 25th, 2007 Northern Shrike @ Merrill Creek

Northern Shrike @ Merrill Creek Nov 2007

Today we got a call from our birding friend Paul Murray that a juvenile Northern Shrike was actively hunting the area around the Scott’s Mountain Hawk Watch. Jeanette and I had not seen the bird (after trying multiple times in multiple locations for others) so we rushed over and hoped we had enough daylight left. The bird had thankfully stayed around but was now on the other side of the reservoir after earlier being only 10s of feet from the gathered “Hawk Watchers.” The bird was scoped and given positive ID. However, our attempts at photographing the bird only provided the far-too-distant picture above. Happy to have seen it but look forward to better looks in the future.

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Saturday, November 24th, 2007 Sandhill Cranes @ Somerset NJ

Sandhill Cranes @ Somerset Nov 2007

Persistence and a great tip that the Somerset Sandhill Cranes were back paid off today. We got great looks at the three birds as they walked around and then lifted off . Life birds for Jeanette and Jersey bird for me! Thanks Charles Smart for the info!

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Friday, November 23rd, 2007 Harlequin Ducks @ Barnegat Inlet

Harlequin Ducks @ Barnegat Nov 2007

We decided to start a “Black Friday” tradition of our own this year and headed out to make a pretty good run at some quality birds seen recently in New Jersey. Unaware of the apparent ramifications of a Thanksgiving night cold front we had visions of birds such as Calliope Hummingbird, Sandhill Crane, Evening Grosbeak, White-winged Crossbill, Harlequin Ducks and Western Kingbirds. Turned out, we struck out on all but the Harlequin. As if by consolation, Long-tailed Duck, Common Eider, Red-throated Loon and my first Purple Sandpiper made appearances. It was cold and rather windy but the array of birds kept “spirits” warm. Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Common Loon, Northern Gannet and a flock of Scoter kept me company and provided a worthwhile ending to our first, mediocre Black Friday birding excursion. BTW, the Harlequin seen for the first time are as stunning as one imagines.

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Wednesday, November 21st, 2007 Calliope Hummingbird @ Denville NJ

Calliope Hummingbird @ Denville Nov 2007

So I decided to take my lunch hour to drive about 5 miles away to see this previously reported Calliope Hummingbird. My second of the year (Karen and Brian Johnson in Cape May county had one that I saw on October 3rd) this Calliope is thought to be a first year male and as such is without the more “extravagant” jeweled necklace like gorget (throat feathers). I was there for about 20 minutes and he showed up 3 times. The bird is at a feeder at the house of John & Carol Knapp in Denville and they have been unbelievably receptive and open about letting fellow birders access to their yard for viewing. Thanks John and Carol!

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Saturday, November 17th, 2007 Eurasian Wigeon @ Lily Lake – Cape May

Eurasian Wigeon @ Lily Lake Nov 2007

The weather held off enough to have some great looks at this Eurasian Wigeon at one of our favorite birding spots in Cape May; Lily Lake. Also stopped by Cape May Point for Cave Swallow and the Avalon Sea Watch for Long-tailed Duck and Red-breasted Merganser. Quite a productive day indeed.

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Sunday, November 11th, 2007 Belted Kingfisher @ Spruce Run

Belted Kingfisher @ Spruce Run Nov 2007

We got a great long look at a hunting Belted Kingfisher. The pictures above are the sequence of events that followed.

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Sunday, November 11th, 2007 Horned Lark & Golden Eagle @ Spruce Run & Scott’s Mountain

Horned Lark @ Spruce Run Nov 2007

What a great November birding day! The warm sun and cold wind seemed appropriate for the calendar date and so did the birds. We started at Assicong Marsh were we saw our first Cackling Goose! It was then on to Round Valley (Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck and American Coot) and Spruce Run. Spruce Run gave us our first Horned Lark (really really cool birds to look at) and my second run-in with Snow Bunting. There was also a “hunting” Belted Kingfisher that Jeanette “caught in action.” We then pushed on west down 78 to exit 4, home of the Scott’s Mountain Hawkwatch. We didn’t plan to stay long and as it turned out didn’t need to. Our first Golden Eagle came soaring (other birds may fly, Eagles “soar”) through and we had a great bird to end a great day of New Jersey birding.

Golden Eagle @ Spruce Run Nov 2007

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Saturday, November 10th, 2007 Red-Shouldered Hawk @ Spruce Run

Red-shouldered Hawk @ Spruce Run Nov 2007

Awesome Red-shoulder Hawk! We have seen a few from the platform of a distant hawkwatch but nothing as close as this guy today. He was posted atop one of the few remaining boats left to fend for themselves as the cold takes further grip on the Spruce Run boat launch. I would have liked to see him fly away and see the wing “windows” but he was looking pretty comfortable so we left him to it. Jeanette loves buteos when they are this visable, not so much when they are hundreds of feet over head. So, this was a nice moment in a pretty “bird-free” day.

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Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 Snow Bunting @ Spruce Run

Snow Bunting @ Spruce Run Nov 2007

This was my first look at Snow Bunting as 11 of them moved as a flock, foraging at the Spruce Run boat launch. What great little birds! I first saw them flying around slightly out over the water as they contemplated landing. The white patches under their wings are so striking and hard to miss. They let me get pretty close for pictures.

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