Friday, April 30, 2010

Good All Over + Sandhill Crane

All over, as in, all over NJ, not just south Jersey. I've had friends contact me from Hunterdon and Sussex Counties with reports of new birds and lots of them. Farther south, Dave Lord apparently encountered a big movement of birds in Cumberland County, more on that later. Richard Crossley, somewhere on the Garden State Parkway, reported warblers moving west at dawn. Tony Leukering and Josh Nemeth worked Villas WMA and came up with 76 species including all 5 expected spring vireos (Warbling being the toughest in spring, Philadelphia being the missed one, and unexpected at best in spring), 14 species of warblers, Scarlet Tanager, both orioles, etc. Tony also had some morning flight over Villas, as did I over Del Haven a bit to the north.

I knew it was going to be good the second I walked out the door, hearing many migrants including my yard-first Warbling Vireo. Actually, before that, since late last night La Puma left me a message: "Dude, look at the radar!"

Bird numbers actually seemed to diminish as I spot-checked a few woodlots on the 12 mile drive south to Cape May for the Higbee walk, i.e. the new migrants were thicker farther north. Higbee was still very good, with over 70 species managed on the walk and some good looks at birds like Prairie Warbler and Northern Parula, and two singing Hooded Warblers, heard at the same time in the woods west of the second field. A movement of Barn Swallows was obvious, Common Loons in breeding plumage also migrated overhead along with a Red-throated Loon high in the air but over the bay (or close) and headed south. There were way more Gray Catbirds and White-eyed Vireos than will fit at Higbee as breeders. The full list is up on Field Trip Reports. Interestingly, I climbed the Higbee Dike before the walk and while the woods were very active, not much flew out and headed north across the canal, just a few Yellow-rumpeds, a Prairie Warbler, and a couple Indigo Buntings. A Blue-winged Warbler started to fly north, but returned to the woods and perhaps that same bird was singing in the woods north of the parking lot all morning.

The rarity du jour so far would be Sam Galicks' flyover Sandhill Crane at the Beanery this morning. The Cape May wintering cranes have been unreported for weeks if not months, so one wonders where this bird is from.

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