Monday, June 29, 2009

Birding Ward Pound Ridge...

On Sunday, I connected with the Queens County Bird Club on a trip to Ward Pound Ridge in Westchester NY. I got there around 7:45 AM and on the drive in picked up several birds including Indigo Bunting. We began our walk down reservation road and picked up several birds including Barn Swallow, Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow and one of my target birds in a Blue Grosbeak. This bird which was a female had fellow birder Ian Resnick and I flummoxed when we first saw it in the distance as our first thought was that it was a female Indigo Bunting. However, as we got closer, we noticed the rufous wing-bars and called it. Our call was supported by Eric Miller another birder who had a scope with him and got a close up looks. Interestingly, we observed a male Indigo Bunting chasing this female Grosbeak. Courting behavior perhaps? We continued, birding Reservation and Michigan roads as well as some off trails picking up several birds, butterflies, odes and Frogs. At the end of the day as some of us took shelter from the sun around the picnic tables adjacent to the parking lot on Michigan road, we observed Rat Snakes mating in a tree. It was pretty cool to watch them intertwining themselves, all the while taking care not to fall from the tree. I left the group around 5:00 and headed back to Queens. It was a very good outing and the Queens County bird club members were very nice and very knowledgeable. I am sure I will be going birding with them in the future. Tags: ,
Total Birds seen: 38
  1. American Goldfinch
  2. American Robin
  3. Baltimore Oriole
  4. Barn Swallow
  5. Black-capped Chickadee
  6. Blue Grosbeak
  7. Blue Winged Warbler
  8. Broad Winged Hawk
  9. Brown Creeper
  10. Brown Thrasher
  11. Chimney Swift
  12. Chipping Sparrow
  13. Common Grackle
  14. Downy Woodpecker
  15. Eastern Bluebird
  16. Eastern Phoebe
  17. Eastern wood Pee-wee
  18. Field Sparrow
  19. Great Crested Flycatcher
  20. Hermit Thrush
  21. Indigo Bunting
  22. Mourning Dove
  23. Northern Cardinal
  24. Northern Flicker
  25. Ovenbird
  26. Prairie Warbler
  27. Red-eyed Vireo
  28. Red-winged Blackbird
  29. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  30. Scarlet Tanager
  31. Tree Swallow
  32. Tufted Titmouse
  33. Turkey Vulture
  34. White-breasted Nuthatch
  35. Wood Thrush
  36. Worm Eating Warbler
  37. Yellow-throated Vireo
  38. House Sparrow
Total Butterflies seen: 6
  1. Eastern Tailed Blue
  2. Appalachian Brown
  3. Wood Satyr
  4. Southern Cloudywing
  5. Great Spangled Fritillary
  6. European Skipper
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Birding Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Queens NY...

I took advantage of a brief respite from all the rain and headed out for an early morning bird walk at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens NY. I arrived at the refuge around 8:00 AM and started along the West Pond trail. It was cloudy and so bird songs were somewhat subdued. Across from the West Pond trail, I got great looks at the Osprey nest with the chicks. One of them seemed anxious to try out his/her flight skills and kept stretching its wings and hopping up and down. Around that same location, I heard and then saw a Willow Flycatcher (they have been known to breed at the refuge). Out on the West Pond the usual species were abound, I did several careful sweeps of the pond taking care to look closely against the Phragmites for any lurking abnormalities, but found none. Since it was low tide, the flats out on Pumpkin Channel were exposed and here I found an immature Little Blue Heron, and then a Tri-colored Heron. I watched the Tri-colored Heron as it hunted for food. In this case, it was using the technique of extending its wings to create a shadow across the water to make the prey more visible. It was pretty cool watching it hunt and I wished I had a better angle to get some video of this neat behavior. Scanning further along the flats, I found a couple of Gull-billed Terns resting and I was able to get excellent looks and photographs. I continued on around the loop bypassing Terrapin trail, which was closed due to the Turtle nesting period. I opted not to walk through the gardens and walked the outer trail instead. Coming down the home stretch just before the blind, I heard and saw catbirds making quite a fuss. Stopping to see what was happening, I observed the cause of their angst. It turned out their turf was invaded by a snake that looked like a “Black Racer” Coluber constrictor; these snakes are not poisonous but can deliver a very painful bite. I witnessed the communal behavior of the catbirds as they increased in numbers and went after the snake, actually delivering several well placed pecks, which drove it off. Continuing on, I stopped at the blind; there was not much around except for Catbirds, a Lone Mourning Dove and a couple of Yellow-Warblers. On my way out from the blind, I looked around to check on the Virginia Roses I had planted last fall. About a Month ago, the Roses looked in great form and buds were starting to form and so I was looking forward to the blooming roses. Well, I had quite a shock! The Roses were all gone. A closer look seemed to indicate that they were either mowed or clipped. I could not believe it, who could have done this? I have to put in a call to the Rangers to find out what happened. Putting that out of my mind, I headed out to the East Pond. At Big John’s, I found a Black Crowned Night Heron and I could make out the Barn Owls in the nest box. This box was already checked out by the banding team and three babies were banded about a week ago. Out on the East Pond, there were the usual inhabitants, including a Spotted Sandpiper, which happened to be my FOS (first of the season). Tags: , , ,

Total Species seen: 57
  1. America Wigeon
  2. American Black Duck
  3. American Crow
  4. American Oystercatcher
  5. American Redstart
  6. American Robin
  7. Barn Owl
  8. Barn Swallow
  9. Black-crowned night Heron
  10. Boat-tailed Grackle
  11. Brandt
  12. Brown Thrasher
  13. Brown-headed Cowbird
  14. Canada Goose
  15. Carolina Wren
  16. Chimney Swift
  17. Common Grackle
  18. Common Yellowthroat
  19. Double Crested Cormorant
  20. Eastern Kingbird
  21. Eastern Towhee
  22. European Starling
  23. Fish Crow
  24. Forster’s Tern
  25. Glossy Ibis
  26. Gray Catbird
  27. Great Crested Flycatcher
  28. Great Egret
  29. Great-blue Heron
  30. Greater-black-backed Gull
  31. Herring Gull
  32. House Finch
  33. House Wren
  34. Laughing Gull
  35. Least Tern
  36. Little Blue-heron
  37. Mallard
  38. Marsh Wren
  39. Mourning Dove
  40. Mute Swan
  41. Northern Cardinal
  42. Northern Mockingbird
  43. Osprey
  44. Red-winged Blackbird
  45. Ring-billed Gull
  46. Ring-billed Tern
  47. Ruddy Duck
  48. Scarlet Tanager
  49. Snowy Egret
  50. Song Sparrow
  51. Spotted Sandpiper
  52. Tree Swallow
  53. Tri-colored Heron
  54. Willet
  55. Willow Flycatcher
  56. Yellow Warbler
  57. Yellow-crowned Night Heron
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Suffolk County birding nets, Arctic Tern, Western Sandpiper, Grasshopper Sparrow + others…

On Sunday, I went on a Suffolk all day, “Dawn to Dusk” birding trip that was pulled together by fellow blogger and birder Corey Finger, (see Corey’s work at The two of us left Queens around 4:35 A.M. in the drizzle; however, by the time we got onto the Southern State Parkway, it was raining buckets. Visibility was poor and we hydroplaned a few times along the way. Nevertheless, we made it safely to our first stop at the Calverton Grasslands; within a few minutes of birding, we landed a couple of target birds, in Grasshopper Sparrow and Eastern Meadowlark. We did look for Blue Grosbeak and Bobolink, but we did not notice either. Our second stop, we were going to try for Red-headed Woodpecker, but realized that it may be too early and so we changed course and headed to another location trying again for Blue Grosbeak. We also tried at the same location for Bobolink, but no success. We did pick up a nice looking Field Sparrow. The drizzle, which we had tolerated, became a bit more incessant and so we hopped back into the car and headed to another spot. Here we tried for Vesper Sparrow, but struck out. However, we had excellent looks at two Prairie Warblers and another Field Sparrow. Enough time had passed for the Woodpeckers to be out and about and so we headed back to the location we had visited earlier. Within about 5 minutes of walking an Adult Red-headed Woodpecker flew right across the path we were walking giving us great looks as it landed in an Oak Tree. We also picked up Eastern Wood Pee-wee as we headed back to the car. Our next stop we looked hard for Northern Bobwhite and Orchard Oriole, but struck out on both birds. We did get Indigo Bunting, Black-billed Cuckoo, and lots of ticks…thank goodness for knee high boots. We escaped tick land unscathed and headed to another location known for breeding Hermit Thrush. Not only did we get the Hermit Thrush, we also got Ovenbird, Pine Warbler, Veery and a surprise bird we heard was a Least Flycatcher. By then, it was time to head out to one of the prime locations for the day, Cupsogue Beach. We made one stop at a local airport before heading out where we heard and saw Eastern Meadowlark and Killdeer. While on our way to Cupsogue, Corey put in a call to Shaibal Mitra, one of the top birders in NY State, who we were meeting at the said location. Shai relayed to Corey that a possible Leach’s Storm Petrel was spotted at Tiana Beach by Andy Baldelli. We again changed course and headed over to the location and joined another top NY state birder, in Tom Burke who was accompanied by Gail Benson. A few minutes later, we were joined by Shaibal Mitra, Pat Lindsay and Andy Baldelli. We did some sea watching in the hopes of spotting the bird, but could not locate as it probably was long gone by then. We did get nice looks at a Northern Gannet and a Wilson’s Storm Petrel. The group then decided to leave for Cupsogue. We were informed of breeding Roseate Terns just east of Triton Lane and Tom Burke pointed them out for us. After circling back to the Tiana Beach parking lot to view an immature Lesser Black-backed Gull that Shai had found, we headed out to Cupsogue. Out on the mudflats near Moriches Inlet, we picked up a second year Arctic Tern along with a Western Sandpiper. What does one do in the presence of such top birders who were generous in sharing their time and knowledge; well, I just kept quiet, observed and listened. It was a joy to observe and listen Shai, Pat, Tom and Andy discussing the Arctic Tern and all the possible things you could think of with regards to its plumage and presence. It was a humbling and learning experience. The entire trip was great, but the time spent in Cupsogue was unique and a definite highlight of the trip making the ride all worth it rain and all. Tags: , , , , ,

Total Species seen: 91
  1. American Crow
  2. American Goldfinch
  3. American Kestrel
  4. American Oystercatcher
  5. American Robin
  6. Arctic Tern
  7. Baltimore Oriole
  8. Barn Swallow
  9. Black Skimmer
  10. Black-bellied Plover
  11. Black-billed Cuckoo
  12. Black-capped Chickadee
  13. Boat-tailed Grackle
  14. Brant
  15. Brown-headed Cowbird
  16. Canada Goose
  17. Carolina Wren
  18. Cedar Waxwing
  19. Chipping Sparrow
  20. Clapper Rail
  21. Common Grackle
  22. Common Tern
  23. Common Yellowthroat
  24. Double-crested Cormorant
  25. Downy Woodpecker
  26. Dunlin
  27. Eastern Bluebird
  28. Eastern Kingbird
  29. Eastern Meadowlark
  30. Eastern Phoebe
  31. Eastern Towhee
  32. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  33. European Starling
  34. Field Sparrow
  35. Fish Crow
  36. Glossy Ibis
  37. Grasshopper Sparrow
  38. Gray Catbird
  39. Great Black-backed Gull
  40. Great Crested Flycatcher
  41. Great Egret
  42. Hermit Thrush
  43. Herring Gull
  44. House Finch
  45. House Sparrow
  46. House Wren
  47. Indigo Bunting
  48. Killdeer
  49. Laughing Gull
  50. Least Flycatcher
  51. Least Sandpiper
  52. Least Tern
  53. Lesser Black-backed Gull
  54. Little Blue Heron
  55. Mallard
  56. Mourning Dove
  57. Mute Swan
  58. Northern Cardinal
  59. Northern Gannet
  60. Northern Mockingbird
  61. Osprey
  62. Ovenbird
  63. Pine Warbler
  64. Piping Plover
  65. Prairie Warbler
  66. Purple Martin
  67. Red Knot
  68. Red-eyed Vireo
  69. Red-headed Woodpecker
  70. Red-tailed Hawk
  71. Red-winged Blackbird
  72. Ring-billed Gull
  73. Rock Pigeon
  74. Roseate Tern
  75. Ruddy Turnstone
  76. Sanderling
  77. Seaside Sparrow
  78. Semipalmated Plover
  79. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  80. Short-billed Dowitcher
  81. Snowy Egret
  82. Song Sparrow
  83. Tree Swallow
  84. Veery
  85. Western Sandpiper
  86. White-breasted Nuthatch
  87. White-rumped Sandpiper
  88. Wild Turkey
  89. Willet
  90. Wilson's Storm-Petrel
  91. Yellow Warbler
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Early birding catches the worm at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge?

In my case, it was early birding results in at least 2 hours of birding before the rain. I got a call from my friend Don Riepe on Friday night, reminding me of an Audubon NYC walk that was scheduled to take place on Saturday. Strangely, that walk was not on my schedule, but I offered to make the necessary adjustments and be there to help out with the walk. The event was scheduled to begin at 10:00 AM; for me that was too late, and so I was hitting the West Pond Trail at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge around 7:30 AM. I am glad that I did because I got in a good 2 hours of birding while there was no rain. I did not pick up much; however, I had two nice birds in Black-billed Cuckoo and Gull Billed Tern. The walk, which was attended by about 15 hardy birders, did not last long as rain moved in and put a damper on things half an hour into the trek. Don, being the good sport that he is, decided to do a slide show to those who had braved the weather elements to be at the refuge. I am sure the participants appreciated his kind gesture. After the slide show, I went over to Don’s and hung out for a bit doing some volunteer work for the American Littoral Society. During that time I was able to photograph Egor The Great Egret that has become quite a regular visit to Don’s house. Tags: ,

Total species seen: 32
  1. American Crow
  2. American Redstart
  3. Black-billed Cuckoo
  4. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  5. Brandt
  6. Brown Thrasher
  7. Brown-headed Cowbird
  8. Canada Goose
  9. Clapper Rail
  10. Common Tern
  11. Double Crested Cormorant
  12. Forster's Tern
  13. Glossy Ibis
  14. Gray Catbird
  15. Great Blue Heron
  16. Great Egret
  17. Gull Billed Tern
  18. House Finch
  19. House Wren
  20. Laughing Gull
  21. Least Tern
  22. Mallard
  23. Northern Cardinal
  24. Northern Mockingbird
  25. Osprey
  26. Red-winged Blackbird
  27. Ring-billed Gull
  28. Snowy Egret
  29. Song Sparrow
  30. Tree Swallow
  31. Willet
  32. Yellow Warbler
  33. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Birding trip to Doodletown, Bashakill and Shawangunks NWR, NY

On Saturday, I headed out around 6:45 AM to Manhattan where I was joining 11 other birders for a birding trip to Doodletown, Bashakill and Shawangunks NWR. On the way in I realized, that I had forgotten to pack my binoculars. This is after checking and rechecking my bags several times. I just forgot to put it around my neck, which is where it usually goes as I keep it handy once I am outside. I was not happy, but comforted myself that I had my scope and thought that it would be good practice to do some birding by ear. When I stopped to pick up our van, I called our trip leader Joe Giunta and told him my dilemma asking if he would check the Audubon office to see if they had any bins available. I got to Audubon around 8:30 AM and Joe did bring two binoculars he had borrowed from Audubon…they were old and not of good quality, but I had to make do with them. We boarded the van quickly and were on the road by 9:00 AM. Our first stop was Doodletown, Bear Mountain, NY. We got there with good time and upon entering the trail, picked up American Goldfinches and Cedar Waxwings. Further along the trail, we heard a Hooded Warbler, but did not get any looks. We continued on and picked up Indigo Buntings, Scarlet Tanager and a nice look at a Ruby-throat Hummingbird. We met a few birders who were on their way out and they told us where we could land Hooded and Cerulean Warblers, both target birds for us. It was not long before we reached the spot and right on cue we heard a Hooded Warbler, while looking for that bird, a Red-eyed Vireo came into view and did a hummingbird type display in picking off an insect from a hanging branch. It was a neat display! While looking at the Vireo, a Cerulean Warbler came into view and we all had excellent looks at this bird. After enjoying the looks we continued on looking for the Hooded Warbler and we got it just a few feet away from where we had found the Cerulean. And what good looks we had. Right at that location we had a treat of finding an American Redstart nesting. Since we had landed the two target birds in that area, we turned and headed back down the hill. On our way back we heard a Yellow-throated Vireo and again the looks were very good for most of us. Shortly after, we took a lunch break and enjoyed the scenery while eating. At the lunch spot we picked up another bird in Louisiana Water Thrush. One of our attendees, John Sperling who happens to be a naturalist caught a Green Frog and we all had good looks at it. After lunch, we headed up Lemmon Road, where we found another good bird in Blue-winged Warbler. Heading back down Lemmon Road, we landed a Brown Creeper; Joe indicated that it was the first time he had found that bird at Doodletown and was quite pleased at seeing it there. We decided that it was time to head out for Bashakill and so we began the walk back to our van. On the way we picked up Eastern Phoebe and Great Crested Flycatcher. We left Doodletown and headed to Bashakill, which took about an hour. At Bashakill, our first stop was on Haven road where we parked and checked out the swamp. We quickly picked up Water snakes, Green Frogs, Eastern Kingbird, Great Blue Heron and Wood Duck. After awhile we got back into the van and slowly moved on towards our next stop, we had gone just a few yards, when Joe asked me to stop the van. He had found another target bird, Common Moorhen. We all piled out of the van and had good looks. We then drove to another location that looked out into the swamp. At that location, there were scopes on a Bald Eagle and Osprey nests. Those of us with our own scopes set them up and took looks at both nests. We then walked the trail in search of a few more target birds. The first one we landed was the Least Flycatcher. It was neat hearing the bird call and tracking it to its location. We then picked up two other target birds, a Virginia Rail that walked right into the trail ahead of us and one of my favorite finds of the trip, an American Bittern who we spotted poking its head out among the tall grass. At that location, we also picked up Baltimore Oriole, Cedar Waxwings and Blue-winged Warbler. We tried for Orchard Oriole, but alas did not find any. We drove on further along Haven Road and picked up Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Chipping Sparrow, Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and many other birds. By then it was time for us to check into our Motel, the Days Inn. After checking in and freshening up, we headed out for dinner and some night time birding. Dinner was good at Danny’s...perhaps too good; we were looking forward to walking off some of the calories we had just piled on. When we were ready to leave it began raining and even though we gambled on the downpour subsiding, it did not and so after driving to a spot known for Whip-poor-wills and doing some flashlight searches from the van, we called it a night after about 20 minutes. The next day we were up bright and early. I was up around 4:00 AM, checking the list server for news on the Upland Sandpiper. I was pleased to see that two were seen and another two heard. After breakfast, which was around 6:00 AM, we headed out to the D&H Canal and immediately after getting out of the van we landed another good bird in Alder Flycatcher. We then headed south along the newly mowed trail in search of another target bird in Golden-winged Warbler, along the way, we picked up Black-billed Cuckoo, Pileated Woodpecker (flyover) Belted Kingfisher, Veery, Wood Thrush, Baltimore Oriole, Tufted Titmouse and finally the Golden-winged Warbler. This bird gave us spectacular views at eye level and we all had great looks. We turned back at this point; on our way back we picked up Eastern Bluebirds and a Downy Woodpecker. At the van we headed in the opposite direction we had been and on that trail, we picked up several new birds for the trip, including Pine Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Field Sparrow and Barn Swallow. We also had several repeats, including Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and Blue-winged Warbler, to name a few. We left the Canal, and headed towards Gumaer Falls Road. Here the habitat was different and more suited to Warblers. We picked up several more target birds including Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Winter Wren, and a surprise bird in an Olive-sided Flycatcher. John Sperling, continued to share his knowledge with us by pointing out several plants and showed us a Red eft. After about an hour of birding we headed back to the Motel and checked out. We then stopped at a local deli and picked up lunch. We ate at the location on Haven Road we had visited the day before where the scopes were setup for the Eagles. The scenery was nice there and it was nice to visit it one more time before we left. While eating, we saw a nice Purple Spotted Butterfly in the parking lot and John Sperling and I relocated a Baby Green Frog, which was we found in a puddle in the parking area. After lunch, we drove to our last venue, Shawangunks NWR. We stopped first at Blue Chip Farms in our quest for the Upland Sandpiper. After about an hour searching we found the bird…or birds I should say. The views were all scope looks as they were way out and not easy to keep track of as they kept moving. We noted 2 adults and 2 young. Everyone all had decent looks and for some, it was a life bird. We then left for Shawangunks NWR, where we were after some grassland birds. As soon as we walked into the trail at Shawangunks NWR, we picked up another target in Willow Flycatcher…interestingly on a Willow tree. While enjoying the looks, we heard the song of an Eastern Meadowlark and quickly diverted our attention. While enjoying the view of the Meadowlark, in flew a Male Bobolink. We all had great looks. By then it was around 4:30 PM and Joe decided that it was time to wrap it up. On our way out we picked up another new bird for the trip in Common Raven. We boarded our van a tired, but happy group. After one stop for drinks and a bathroom break, we drove non-stop back to NYC arriving at Audubon around 7:15 PM. I dropped off the van and got home around 10:00 PM. It was an excellent trip getting to see some really nice birds and meeting nice people.
Tags: , , , , ,

Total species seen: 93
  1. Acadian Flycatcher
  2. Alder Flycatcher
  3. American Bittern
  4. American Crow
  5. American Goldfinch
  6. American Redstart
  7. American Robin
  8. Bald Eagle
  9. Baltimore Oriole
  10. Barn Swallow
  11. Belted Kingfisher
  12. Black Vulture
  13. Black-and-white Warbler
  14. Black-billed Cuckoo
  15. Blackburnian Warbler
  16. Black-capped Chickadee
  17. Black-throated Blue Warbler
  18. Black-throated Green Warbler
  19. Blue Jay
  20. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  21. Blue-winged Warbler
  22. Bobolink
  23. Brown Creeper
  24. Brown-headed Cowbird
  25. Canada Goose
  26. Cedar Waxwing
  27. Cerulean Warbler
  28. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  29. Chipping Sparrow
  30. Common Grackle
  31. Common Moorhen
  32. Common Raven
  33. Common Yellowthroat
  34. Downy Woodpecker
  35. Eastern Bluebird
  36. Eastern Kingbird
  37. Eastern Meadowlark
  38. Eastern Phoebe
  39. Eastern Towhee
  40. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  41. European Starling
  42. Field Sparrow
  43. Fish Crow
  44. Golden-winged Warbler
  45. Gray Catbird
  46. Great Blue Heron
  47. Great Crested Flycatcher
  48. Great Egret
  49. Hooded Warbler
  50. House Finch
  51. House Sparrow
  52. House Wren
  53. Indigo Bunting
  54. Killdeer
  55. Least Flycatcher
  56. Louisiana Waterthrush
  57. Mallard
  58. Mourning Dove
  59. Mute Swan
  60. Northern Cardinal
  61. Northern Flicker
  62. Northern Mockingbird
  63. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
  64. Olive-sided Flycatcher
  65. Osprey
  66. Ovenbird
  67. Pileated Woodpecker
  68. Pine Warbler
  69. Red-eyed Vireo
  70. Red-tailed Hawk
  71. Red-winged Blackbird
  72. Rock Pigeon
  73. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  74. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  75. Savannah Sparrow
  76. Scarlet Tanager
  77. Song Sparrow
  78. Tree Swallow
  79. Tufted Titmouse
  80. Turkey Vulture
  81. Upland Sandpiper
  82. Veery
  83. Virginia Rail
  84. Warbling Vireo
  85. White-breasted Nuthatch
  86. Wild Turkey
  87. Willow Flycatcher
  88. Winter Wren
  89. Wood Duck
  90. Wood Thrush
  91. Yellow Warbler
  92. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
  93. Yellow-throated Vireo
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday hike at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Queens NY...

It was around 8:15 AM, when I pulled into the parking lot at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens NY. A flash of yellow immediately caught my eye and I observed a couple of Yellow Warblers chasing each other through the Bayberry Shrubs around the visitor’s center. Ah…Spring love. Gathering my gear, I headed to the West Pond trail, briefly stopping to check the log book to see what had been reported. There was already an entry for the day indicating the presence of a Mourning Warbler and Gull Billed Terns. As I walked along the trail, I heard the sounds of “fitz-bew” indicating Willow Flycatchers were about. Around bench 1, I heard a Clapper Rail, but could not see over the overgrown shrubs to track the location. Out on the West pond were the familiar assortment of birds; I carefully scanned the far shores looking for anything unusual, but came up empty. As I rounded bench 3, I heard the sounds of peeps and observed a nice congregation assembling around the mud flats off of Terrapin trail. I headed in that direction and once there, I scanned the flock and found, Semipalmated Sandpipers, with a few Dunlins and about 6-8 White-rumped Sandpipers. Further around the point of Terrapin trail, I found a few Ruddy Turnstones. Out on one of the Islands in Pumpkin Channel, I counted at least 32 Snowy Egrets…quite a number gathered in one location. After spending some time scanning the flocks of peeps that kept coming and going, I finally moved on, satisfied that there was nothing else at the moment that I was overlooking. The rest of the walk around the West Pond was uneventful with most of the usual species at this time of the year. The gardens did not yield much either and I did not hear or see the Mourning Warbler. I continued on over to Big John’s and the East Pond where I saw again, most of the usual species. I was a bit bothered by the large number of Mute Swans; I counted 78 and that does not bode well for other water fowl due to the Mute Swans aggressive behavior. I called it a day around 12:30 PM. Tags: ,

Total species seen: 41
  1. American Crow
  2. American Redstart
  3. American Robin
  4. Black-crowned Night Heron
  5. Brandt
  6. Brown Thrasher
  7. Canada Goose
  8. Clapper Rail (Heard)
  9. Common Yellow-throat
  10. Cowbird
  11. Double Crested Cormorant
  12. Dunlin
  13. European Starling
  14. Forster's Tern
  15. Glossy Ibis
  16. Gray Catbird
  17. Great Egret
  18. Greater Black-backed Gull
  19. Green Heron
  20. Herring Gull
  21. House Sparrow
  22. House Wren
  23. Laughing Gull
  24. Little-blue Heron
  25. Mallard
  26. Mourning Dove
  27. Mute Sawn
  28. Northern Mockingbird
  29. Northern Shoveler
  30. Osprey
  31. Oystercatcher
  32. Red-winged Blackbird
  33. Rudy Turnstone
  34. Semipalmated Sandpiper
  35. Snowy Egret
  36. Song Sparrow
  37. Tree Swallow
  38. White-rumped Sandpiper
  39. Willet
  40. Yellow Warbler
  41. Yellow-crowned Night Heron
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

First Owl Banding Outing For 2009…

After a few cancellations for one reason or another we finally got the team together on Tuesday, for our first Barn Owl banding outing for the year. Most of us began assembling at Don’s house around 11:00 PM. It turned out to be a larger group than I expected with a couple of National Park Rangers, Jessica and Maryjo joining us. Some folks decided on getting lunch before we started and that delayed us a bit. Eventually, we hit our first site around 12:30 PM. Here, our first box turned up empty; however, we did find a nest in the box and speculated on whether the source could have been a Wood Duck. Photos were taken and there will be follow-ups and reviews to determine the source of the nest. If it turns out to be a Wood Duck, it would be a record for that area as there is currently no data of a Wood Duck ever nesting there. Along the way to our second box, I spotted a Fowler's Toad moving along the edge of the trail and alerted Don, since my hands were full. Don, caught the toad and the group all got good looks; it was for some the first time looking at this type of toad. We eventually got to our second box, which turned up one un-banded adult Barn Owl with two eggs; we went through the process of quickly banding her and letting her get back to her eggs. By then, I had to leave and the team went on to the third box at that site. I rejoined the team around 3:00 PM and learned that the third box could not be accessed due to some fashion photo shoot that was taking place at the location. Good thing I was not there because I would have had a hard time not pressing for access to the location...but the fashion photographer had permits, so they probably would have won out. Anyway, the team had since then moved on to site number 2 and there they had one box with two adult Barn Owls, one which flew out before the nets could cover the entrance; the other adult was un-banded and so the team went through the process of banding that adult. I joined the team for the third site. Unfortunately, the weather began to turn for the worse and so we headed back to Don’s house (thanks to Meera for making a good call), to wait it out. During that time, the team got smaller as 4 people dropped out including the NPS rangers. We kept checking the weather conditions and around 6:00 PM, with the rain down to a drizzle, we headed back out with the team down to now 6 of us. At the third site, our first box had one un-banded Adult with 2 eggs, and we again went through the banding process. At box number 2 we had our first Owlets. Three lovely, healthy babies, who were old enough to be banded. After banding, we took some photos along with pellet samples and headed on to box 3. This was one of the boxes that Don, Doris and I had put up earlier in the year and I was eager to see if it had Owls. Unfortunately, the nest box was empty; the good news is, we found lots of pellets inside, which is a good sign that this box could in the future be occupied with a nesting pair. There was one more box at this site, but we passed on it because of the fading light and weather conditions and headed back to Don’s house. During our stint at site three, we came across several Herring Gull nests and chicks and had to be extremely careful not stepping on any nests. I am happy to report that the walk to and from the location was incident free. It was a good first outing and we are already looking at scheduling our second outing as quickly as we can during this breeding cycle. Please note that this post was written in a way, so as not to reveal the sites of the Owl boxes. This is for the protection of the Owls.

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