Saturday, November 1, 2008


(Map of Higbee Beach WMA, X marks the spot that this bird was seen)

This morning a WESTERN TANAGER was found in the second field at Higbee Beach WMA. While the initial directions for where the bird was found were a bit confusing, I can tell you that as of about 1:00 p.m. the bird was being seen from the second field (see the red "X" above) along the left hedge row immediately to your left as you exit the overgrown area that connects the first and second field.

The tanager was hanging out in the thick area of porcelain berry which is very prevalent in this corner. While the bird was easily seen earlier in the morning, by the time Laura and I arrived it had begun to play hide and seek making quick flights out of the tangles only to return and not be seen again for upwards of 10-15 min. Begin your search in the back corner and look for the growth of porcelain berry that has grown up in the conical shape of a Christmas tree.

You might also try looking from the trail along that same hedgerow (the back side) at the southern end on the first field (see yellow "X" on the map above.) After a handful of quick flights a few of us decided to try this area to look at the "Christmas trees" shaped porcelain berry from the back side. While you do not have as open a view of the corner area we were all able to get excellent looks at this bird as it foraged in the tangles. It was moving about slowly as if foraged except for its erratic flight out and back again. From the second field location we all saw the bird for a matter of seconds over the course of 45+ min. We all looked at the bird for a number of minutes while looking for the first field train on the backside.

Below are a couple of photos from Michael O'Brien and Kathy & Roger Horn.

For those of you keeping score this is the 11th Western Tanager for Cape May County since the first one discovered on 12/4/1954. This is according to the New Jersey Bird Records Committee List of Accepted Records of Rare Birds in New Jersey Through 2006 published by the New Jersey Bird Records Committee. Interestingly of the 11 records for Cape May County only two have been found outside of "Cape May."

(photo courtesy of Michael O'Brien)

(photo coputesy of Kathy & Roger Horn)

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