Archive for 2008 September

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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