Monday, April 8, 2013

Brigantine + Belleplain = Birds

Spring might be keeping us waiting this year, but there has certainly been birds a-plenty this past few days and I received a nice batch of photos in my inbox this morning. There must have been quite a party at Brigantine on Saturday as the reserve opened their doors to the public after a long spell and many a local birder's withdrawal symptoms were staunched, until next weekend anyway. I heard of two Caspian Terns, some very showy American Pipits and a point-blank American Bittern on show, so the place has not lost any of its appeal. Belleplain has been just a little slower in getting going but Karen Johnson reports a good influx of Yellow-throated Warblers and Louisiana Waterthrushes into both Belleplain and parts of Cumberland County today, with many birds giving great views in flowering Red Maples. Karen also reported the first Trailing Arbutus in flower at Belleplain - look for small, five-petalled flowers next to dark green, leathery leaves, growing very close to the ground on woodland trails. Also in Cumberland County, the Black-headed Gull was reported from Heislerville again on 6th.

At the state park at lunch time today, I found the male Common Teal still present, at least five Purple Martins at the boxes by the parking lot and a Marsh Wren singing from thick cover by the first bench along the red trail, heading out in a clockwise direction. Vince Elia reported a fabulous Northern Gannet show this morning and Double-crested Cormorants have been trailing in lines and Vs past my office window all day. In the non-bird stakes, I was intrigued to watch a face off between a pencil-thin Ribbon Snake looking for lunch and a big and chunky Bullfrog. It ended in a peace accord!

Ospreys waste no time in getting back to domestic duties once they arrive. This pair at Ocean City are typical of Cape May's birds, which are sorting out their nests after the trials and tribulations of Hurrican Sandy [photo by E J Nistico].

Brigantine (Forsythe NWR) opened its doors for weekends only for now, but is already producing the goods, such as this typically obliging American Bittern seen there last Saturday [photo by Jim Brennan].

They might be common, but that doesn't stop them being nice subjects for photography. American Robins are busy on untreated lawns throughout the county as worms awake from their winter slumbers and venture toward the surface [photo by E J Nistico].

And talking of common birds, this photo reminds me to remind you to keep your Tree Swallow boxes cleaned out of House Sparrow nests before your swallows can get back and use them. I always think it's kindest to remove the nests before the birds have a chance to lay, then they will move off somewhere else and leave your box in peace [photo by E J Nistico].