Sandy Hook has been really good for the rare or uncommon bird sightings this spring. It’s location and habitat seem perfect for the last second relaxation or energy refueling stop before heading north. Over the last year the “Hook” gave Jeanette and I some firsts for us like Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, and Townsend’s Solitaire. Today I got another personal life bird with a great looking Western Grebe. Through pretty far out, (as shown in the “Lockness” like picture quality above :)) nice scope views were had and plenty of time spent enjoying the view. June of 08 off to a good start! OH! And BTW I had three Grasshopper Sparrows at Negri Napote on the way home from Sandy Hook! My first of the year.
I stopped by Garret Mountain on my way home from work around 330-4 PM and was surprised at the nice variety of birds around. In fact my best single day for total numbers of Warbler species all spring. Got to see my FOS (First of Spring) Lincoln’s Sparrow and a beautiful Orchard Oriole and racked up 19 warbler species that were rather low in the trees probably on account of the wind. Not many birds calling (it was early afternoon) and I definitely noticed the thicker leave cover than just a week or two ago. Lost a few birds without seeing an exit due to this including the Blackburnian Warbler. Weather was nice and no bugs around. Also heard two Great Horned Owls calling to each other on Wilson Road as I was leaving. What a treasure Garret is!
Cape May is one of the truly special birding locations in New Jersey and Jeanette and I got to spend a week enjoying it. Some inclement weather (a Nor’easter blowing 70mph winds and heavy rain) didn’t dampen our spirits and we birded through most of it determined to get the most out of our time there. Mornings at Higbee and trips to Belleplain and Heislerville filled in when we weren’t at some of the great local spots like the Meadows, Villas, Beanery and Point State Park. Although we weren’t an “official” team we gave the personal “big day” thing a try and saw 105 species on World Series day in Cape May county. We also did okay with some new birds for us like White-winged Dove and Iceland Gull and had 25 species of warbler with great looks at Cape May Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler and Wilson’s Warbler. It was also great to see some of the local birding faces again and share birding stories since the last time we met. Cape May is truly a “magical” place and we felt lucky to find it within our borders.
Although the day was overcast and slightly cool the birding sure wasn’t! Warblers were everywhere as there had obviously been a good flight the night before (possible aided by that mentioned bad weather). We walked into Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Northern Parula, and glided right through Common Yellow-throat, Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-White Warbler, and Prairie Warblers. A single Nashville Warbler and 2 male Blackburnian Warblers stole the show as it was Jeanette and my first good “Spring” look at the orange-throated beauties. Some other birds seen were Black-throated Blue Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue-winged Warbler and Magnolia Warblers and American Redstart. Ovenbird, BaltimoreOriole and Orchard Orioles, and Scarlet Tanagers rounded up what was an amazing morning of Spring birding at Garrett Mt.
Jeanette and I needed to spend a few days in Florida with relatives and of course I found a way to squeeze in a “little” birding. So three and a half days worth of a little time = 15 Life birds and two of my most wanted US birds! We got to see the amazing Burrowing Owls (although at our distance picture quality suffered) and a vibrant Scissor-tailed Flycatcher! This was an opportunity for me to use birding skills I have built over the last year to track down local “specialties” on my own. With help from Jeanette’s “eagle eyes” we saw some additional Florida beauties like Anhinga, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, White Ibis, Swallow-tailed Kite, Wood Stork, Mottled Duck and Magnificent Frigatebird. Throw in Loggerhead Shrike and Grey Kingbird and it was a very productive birding trip and a very enjoyable step away from everyday life. Can’t wait to go back for more! Swallow-tailed Kite
I never grow tired of seeing the hunting Short-eared Owls at the Pole Farm near Princeton New Jersey. These two were hunting and must have come too close to one another’s territory! If you live in NJ and have not been here you need to. Seriously. 🙂
The Pole Farm is a great New Jersey spot for Eastern Meadowlark and Short-eared Owls. The Meadowlarks were calling their hearts out and chasing each other around. This was my first decent shot of an Eastern Meadowlark so I was a happy camper. 🙂
The Evening Grosbeaks of Assunpink WMA fame didn’t disappoint! The male sat out for 5 minutes basking in the sun. The females were close by and afforded nice views as well. The males call was an interesting one as it sounded like someone swallowing water while trying to whistle. Great Birds and a New Jersey first for me!
Had a fun day in Somerset county seeing not one but two different Saw-whet Owls! These two were much smaller than the previous bird I had seen as it had been all relaxed and puffed up. They just sat and let us watch them for a short amount of time (as to not disturb them).
Went to Spruce Run hoping to find the reported Franklin’s Gull. While I didn’t see the Gull I did get to see three different species of Grebe. Pied-Billed Grebe, Horned Grebe and the Red-necked Grebe (shown above).