Early Morning Blues

I decided to walk myself over to Cushetunk Lake for a bit of birding by ear. (aka my binoculars were locked in someone else’s car!)

It was a very pleasant sunrise walk.  Solo birding is a different experience.  Because it’s based on your own inclination and there’s no distraction of company, you experience the world in a different way.  I had a very enjoyable hour, attempting to listen to calls and identity each individual.  Quite a number of blue birds!  No Belted Kingfisher or Eastern Bluebird to round out the blues mix, alas, but I did see a number of Blue Jays and a Great Blue Heron. I had luck identifying the American Crow, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, and White-breasted Nuthatch.

Lake Cushetunk:
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Mallard
Great Blue Heron
American Crow
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal

After visiting the dam, I headed through a patch of woods before wandering back.  Among the branches I could hear a symphony of unidentifiable wonders.I could identify the 16 mallards swimming and great blue heron fishing in the stream.

I also saw four deer and a swimming muskrat!   So cool!  Following my hour ramble, I was in a much better frame of mind.  As I walked back into the house, I surprised a Carolina Wren who nearly flew into me in its haste to book it out of there.  Now I’m mentally all ready to hit the road for a day of birding in….. Central Jersey!

Avi’s Blue Heron

“Maggie walked back to the cottage, entered with caution, and climbed into the loft. As she lay in her bed she kept thinking of the heron. How beautiful it was. How magical. Never before had she experienced such a sense of magic, real magic.‎” – Blue Heron, Avi

One of my favorite childhood books, Avi’s Blue Heron tells Maggie’s fascination with the habits of the blue herons at a summer cabin on the lake.    In 2003, I had an opportunity to share some of Maggie’s experiences when I worked at the Pickering Creek Audubon Center.  During freetime, I would take a kayak to explore the creek and follow the herons as they silently stalked their prey.  It was definitely magic.

Which is why I was so excited when birding on the 15th to see so many herons!  Unfortunately, we came across one dead heron (really?! who sees a dead heron?) but we also saw three live ones.  We found the first two at Deer Path Park in Readington, NJ and the other two we witnessed at Cushetunk Lake in Whitehouse Station.

While the other half of the party focused on two bizarre looking Canada Geese. I marveled at the majestic manner in which the great blue heron slipped through the water.  I saw twice, the heron snatch at fish.  Unfortunately my camera was in the car, otherwise I might have tried for decent photos.  I did get one with my phone.

IMG_20130117_183241

Great Blue Heron fishing at Deer Park.

Rockafellows Mill Road:
Canada Goose
Mallard
Common Merganser
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed hawk
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Carolina Wren
American Tree Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
American Goldfinch
Assiscong Marsh:
Canada Goose
Gadwall
American Black Duck
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Turkey Vulture
Ring-billed Gull
Blue JayDeer Path Park:
Great Blue Heron
Northern Flicker
Mallard
Gadwall
Canada Goose

Lake Cushetunk:
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Gadwall
Mallard
Great Blue Heron (2)
Belted Kingfisher

S’no Buntings!

Alas! Today we went to the fields off E. Main St. in Annandale were hoping for an additional view of Horned Larks and to add Snow Buntings to my avian repertoire.  Others have seen Horned Larks and Snow Buntings there this past week. We spent nearly an hour there and picked up White-crowned Sparrow (new for the year) and American Tree Sparrow (life species), but despite our perseverance we couldn’t find any Snow Buntings.

Fields off E. Main
Canada Geese
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Bald Eagle
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
American Crow
Common Raven
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Eastern Bluebird
European Starling
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal

Your Wish Is My Command!

Today was a very successful day of birding in Hunterdon Co.  We began the afternoon near the Solberg Airport where there were no new life species, but I did pick up Northern Mockingbird, American Kestrel, and Northern Harrier for 2013.

We were also hoping for a Ring-necked Pheasant a friend had surprised one there a few days ago, but instead we found the remains of at least 2-3 Ring-necked Pheasants and one wild turkey.  In total there were seven or so carcasses.  The area has been a good one for hawks and owls alike as we found owl pellets near one set of remains, and he has had luck finding short-eared owls in the vicinity.

After a light rain, we changed locations and headed up to Round Valley were we struck gold.  We had debated between stopping for food or pushing onward.  As we arrived, I joked, “We are staying until we find a Common Loon – even if it means ordering a pizza to Round Valley.”  Before the car was even in park, he exclaimed “Look, a loon!” and he presented me with a loon.  Truth be told, I didn’t believe him and almost refused to look the third times.  It was there waiting for us at the boat ramp.   In fact there were two; one of whom swallowed a very large fish.

While we were scanning the swimming area, he directed the scope on a pair of birds, urging me to describe them.  I looked at them…. a dark brownish-red head, gray body, finishing in black…. Redhead.  New life species!

Solberg Airport:
Black Vulture (1)
Turkey Vulture (5)
Red-tailed Hawk (5)
Northern Mockingbird (4)
Common Raven (1)
Blue Jays
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Mourning Doves
Tufted Titmouse
American Kestrel (1)
Eastern Bluebird (6)
Carolina Chickadee (1) – trills faster than its northern cousin
Carolina Wren (1)
A Murder of American Crows
Northern Harrier (3) – females only
Ring-neck Pheasant (heard only)
Round Valley:
Pileated Woodpecker
Turkey VultureRed-tailed HawkAmerican Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-necked Duck (1)
Mallard
Lesser Scaup
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Canada Geese
Snow Geese
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Common Loon (2)
Redhead (2)

New Life Species total: 2
New 2013 Species: 10