Sunday, January 13, 2008

Townsend's Solitaire at Sandy Hook

While we were in New Mexico back in late November, a Townsend's Solitaire showed up at one of my frequent birding haunts, Sandy Hook. In fact, four rare birds showed up basically simultaneously - Western Kingbird, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Great-crested Flycatcher (the first documented November NJ record), and the Townsend's Solitaire. Lucky for NJ birders, all four birds, which became known as the "Gang of Four," stuck around for quite a while. Unlucky for me, non-birding-related activities and other commitments kept me from seeing them. None were state birds and only the Solitaire and Ash-throated Flycatcher would have been new birds for my Sandy Hook list (one of the few non-traditional lists I keep). With the two "Flycatchers" long gone, I finally looked for the Solitaire on New Year's Eve, but struck out. I did find the Kingbird that day though.

Today, on my volunteering day, I was lucky enough to find the very abiding Townsend's Solitaire. I wish I had my camera because it was incredibly close. This was the best look I've had at the species by far. It's a sleek little bird. I got to hear it's distinctive call note too.

Many birders were milling about today. Bohemian Waxwings, the northern cousin to the ever-popular Cedar Waxwing, have been reported daily for the last week or so. I found several flocks of Cedar Waxwings, but none held that cherished chestnut-brown undertail. While I was working, I noticed a group of birders behind the building. They quickly disbursed and I though nothing of it. A few minutes later, a birder walked in to tell me that they just had 3(!!!) Bohemian Waxwings behind the building! D'oh! I went out and checked, but they had left. Oh well. Regardless, it was a great day at Sandy Hook with beautiful weather. The forecast is for some actual snow tonight - a big change from the mild weather we've been having. Happy Birding!

8 comments:

mon@rch said...

How wonderful and the Townsend's Solitaire would be a lifer for me! Sounds like a great day for sure!

John said...

I'm glad you found it this time.

Patrick Belardo said...

Monarch, they've been popping up all over the east coast this year. Maybe one will find you!

Lana Gramlich said...

I love Bohemian waxwings. Unfortunately I don't think we get them here in the deep South. I was fortunate enough to see one up close & personal years ago in Canada, however, when my mom saved one from her cat.

Patrick Belardo said...

Lana,

They are very cool birds. I'm glad your mom saved it!

Island Rambles Blog said...

We have had a Western King Bird here this year and the Townsend's Solitaires are here and the Cedar Waxwings...I really enjoy your blog site.. :-) Cheers.

T.R. said...

I got a quick look at a Townsend's Solitaire in my backyard this winter when a storm forced a sky full of migrating birds right down into my backyard. I was breathless with excitement. Glad you had a good time in New Mexico.

Patrick Belardo said...

IRB, that is so cool!

TR, that must have been exciting.