Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey Under Way

NJAS's annual mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey is this weekend. Thankfully, the weather has cooperated thus far!

We'll post full results here when we have them, but I can say that things bode well for CMBO's coming field trips: Winter Raptors on the Delaware Bayshore (January 19), Where the Eagles Are (January 21), as well as for our Wintering Raptors of the Delaware Bayshore workshop in February. Check under workshops and special programs on this site,

I covered the Maurice River (Cumberland County) yesterday, and saw 15 Bald Eagles: 11 within "my" territory and 4 others when I went poaching a bit. Interestingly, I only saw 2 non-adults, and I think I know why. Multiple eagle pairs nest along the Maurice (pronounced "More-iss," by the way), and these territorial birds do not tolerate interlopers. Indeed, one of my earlier sightings of the day included some serious territorial behavior. A huge group of Snow Geese at Heislerville got in the air, signalling that an eagle was nearby. I soon spotted a bird in transitional plumage (i.e. approaching adult), and then realized not one but two adults were in hot pursuit of the young bird, gaining fast. The adults came from upstream along the Maurice, and once the immature reached Matt's Landing they broke off pursuit, presumably because they had reached the edge of their territory.

Several Cooper's Hawks, redtails, Peregrines, and that very rare bird these days, a single American Kestrel, also spiced the day. Non-raptors were abundant, too - with the mild weather, several Great Egrets have persisted, and waterfowl numbers along the Maurice were high. A full list is below; the bulk of the non-eagles on the list came from the Heislerville and Port Norris areas, on the south and north sides of the Maurice River mouth respectively. I'd also note that HUGE numbers of gulls were attracted to the clam operation at Port Norris/Bivalve, arriving after roosting all night on the bay around sunup and departing by 4 p.m. I didn't have much time to sift them, but that's where I'd send any "Larophiles." If you can stand the smell. . .speaking of being philosophical (see Jason's post below), it does take a certain Zen like state to study large gull flocks, and well-named Bivalve and its, um, scents, provides an even better chance to test one's inner tranquility, especially after you drive your car through the fresh-shelled clams, coating the undercarriage. . .

Location: Maurice River Eagle Survey
Observation date: 1/12/08
Notes: Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey, Maurice River.
Number of species: 76
Snow Goose 5000
Canada Goose X
Mute Swan 13
Gadwall 2
American Black Duck 500
Mallard 200
Northern Shoveler 2
Northern Pintail 250 Includes 160 at Maurice River bluffs feeding on wild rice
Green-winged Teal 50 at Maurice River bluffs feeding on wild rice
Lesser Scaup 5
Bufflehead 150
Common Goldeneye 1
Hooded Merganser 5
Red-breasted Merganser 20
Ruddy Duck 40
Wild Turkey 10
Great Blue Heron 25
Great Egret 4
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
Black Vulture 10
Turkey Vulture 30
Bald Eagle 11
Northern Harrier 30 Watched 2 adults at Heislerville drive a transition plumage bird away.
Cooper's Hawk 6
Red-tailed Hawk 10
American Kestrel 1 along river road s of mauricetown causeway
Peregrine Falcon 3
Clapper Rail 2
Killdeer 7 port norris
Greater Yellowlegs 75 heislerville impoundment
Sanderling 15
Dunlin 40
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X these and other gulls apparently roosted on bay, huge numbers flew into bivalve in the morning, were gone by 4 p.m.
Great Black-backed Gull X
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove 100
Great Horned Owl 2
Belted Kingfisher 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Downy Woodpecker 5
Northern Flicker 5
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Carolina Chickadee 30
Tufted Titmouse 10
Red-breasted Nuthatch 5
White-breasted Nuthatch 5
Brown Creeper 2
Carolina Wren 10
Marsh Wren 2
Golden-crowned Kinglet 5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Eastern Bluebird 10
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin X
Northern Mockingbird 5
Brown Thrasher 2
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing 75
Yellow-rumped Warbler 50
Eastern Towhee 2
Field Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 5
Swamp Sparrow 15
White-throated Sparrow 50
Dark-eyed Junco 5
Northern Cardinal 15
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Boat-tailed Grackle 75
Brown-headed Cowbird 50
Purple Finch 10
House Finch 20
American Goldfinch 15
House Sparrow X

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