Thursday, April 24, 2008

It seemed like a Blue Grosbeak kind of day....

Well we decided to bird Higbee Beach WMA this morning given that the winds had been south-westerly over night switching to west maybe even a bit north-west in the early hours. We were hoping for a good influx of new arrivals and figured Higbee would be the place. I supposed I should say that the "we" was Laura, Bob Fogg (NJAS Research Associate) and myself.

Interestingly, to me at least was the lack of any other birders at Higbee this morning. I figured that there would at least have been one other car in the lot. It's early yet and the real chances for any good migratory event were somewhat low, so everyone was right to have slept in a bit.

Over all the birding this morning was a little slow. But, good sightings were had by all. Bob picked up on a couple of singing vireos throughout our time in the field. Pretty much as soon as we headed out the car doors he heard a Red-eyed Vireo singing near the parking lot. A first of the season for all of us. Later, a Blue-headed Vireo was singing at the back of the second tower field and gave fleeting glances.

We also had a singing Hooded Warbler in the wet woods (the woods along the eastern boarder of the property) and a Prairie Warbler about mid way back in the second field. A couple of Black and white Warblers and a few Yellow- rumped Warblers rounded on the group for us.

The highlight for the day for all of us I think was the five Blue Grosbeaks in the first field right at the beginning of the trail. We walked in an opposite direction from which we all usually walk and I was becoming somewhat disappointed because I just had a feeling that we'd see a grosbeak today. I was pleasantly surprised to finally hear the call note as we were about to leave. Sure hearing (or I should say recognizing again after a long winter) the first Blue Grosbeak of the spring is nice, but as we watched the initial female fly away to the hedge row we kept hearing a grosbeak call note. Then another female popped up out of thin air, from the grasses. Blue-grosbeak are very fond of hanging in the grasses as I found out from my time working on a grassland project. In fact they will even build their nests in the grass. So while many think of Blue Grosbeak as an early successional specialists (which they are) I personally like to think of them as somewhat of a hybrid with a little grassland bird mixed in. After the second female we were treated to good views of a couple of males and then one last female. I have to say, I just love Blue Grosbeaks! But then again, I was saying that about most species we saw this morning.
All in all we had a nice jaunt around Higbee. Who knows, if we had stuck around five or so minutes longer what interesting sighting we might have had.

On a side note, turtles are definitely on the move these days. As we were on our way in to the center from Higbee we stopped (along New England Road) to pick up a little Box turtle on the road. So please keep an eye out as you drive around, who knows what wildlife other than birds you may be able to observe.

Location: Higbee Beach
Observation date: 4/24/08
Notes: 3340 steps = approx. 2.15 miles
Number of species: 46

Canada Goose 6
Mallard 2
Common Loon 6
Double-crested Cormorant 105
Turkey Vulture 1
Killdeer 2
Laughing Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull X
Mourning Dove 10
Red-bellied Woodpecker 6
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 2
White-eyed Vireo 8
Blue-headed Vireo 2
Red-eyed Vireo 1
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Fish Crow X
Tree Swallow 1
Carolina Chickadee X
Tufted Titmouse X
Carolina Wren 16
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 8
American Robin X
Gray Catbird 1
Northern Mockingbird 2
Brown Thrasher 6
European Starling X
Cedar Waxwing X
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 4
Prairie Warbler 1
Black-and-white Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 10
Hooded Warbler 1
Eastern Towhee 8
Chipping Sparrow 4
Field Sparrow 12
Savannah Sparrow 6
White-throated Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Blue Grosbeak 5
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
American Goldfinch 4

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

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