Sunday, April 22, 2007

Field Trip Results: Beginner's Bird Walk

I led the "Beginner's Bird Walk" at Sandy Hook today for NJ Audubon. We had 8 great participants and many great birds! We saw/heard 50 species. The complete list is below. After reports of a great raptor flight yesterday and news about good migration through the state, I was hoping for a productive day. The migrants weren't as numerous as I was expecting, but a few highlights really made the day special.

Participants at Spermaceti Cove

We started birding at Spermaceti Cove where we saw Brant, American Oystercatcher, Snowy and Great Egrets, several Osprey including one eating a fish, Boat-tailed Grackle, Song Sparrow, and Savannah Sparrow, among others. A short walk along the scrub-shrub dune habitat near the Visitor's Center yielded a very cryptic first-year Pine Warbler - not an easy bird to identify, especially when it's feeding on the ground!

We then checked out the boy scout camp area which held quite a few Hermit Thrushes, a Downy Woodpecker, several singing Carolina Wrens, but not much else. A fly-by Sharp-shinned Hawk was our first raptor of the day. The big one was still to come!

Migration seemed a bit slow, so we headed up to the northern end of Sandy Hook where the spring hawk count is conducted each year. We were greeted by a Field Sparrow singing in a tree above my car.

Field Sparrow

The dunes around the hawk watch are full of bayberry and beach plum. Among the trees and shrubs we found several Yellow-rumped Warblers and both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets. My mother, who joined us on the trip, pointed out a gull flying over. I think I scared the group with my excitement because it was one of the white-winged gulls - either a Glaucous or Iceland Gull. I didn't get an ID before it flew away. There had been an Iceland seen yesterday.

A tip from some fellow birders led us to the prize bird of the day - a stunning male Hooded Warbler. All of the group had very close views and it was a life bird for all participants. It even came within a few feet of my dad and Beth.

Hooded Warbler

We hung out on the hawk watch platform for a bit, but didn't see much. We headed down and made our way towards a small freshwater pond. We didn't make it very far before the hawk counter called, "EAGLE!" I hustled back towards the platform, inadvertently knocking Beth out of the way (sorry darling!) and we were able to get the group on a gorgeous immature Bald Eagle flying right over our heads.

We ended the trip by visiting the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory book store. The last few of us who left got to see an Indigo Bunting feeding in the grass near the store. Thanks so much to everyone who attended and special thanks to my girlfriend Beth for taking all of the pictures!

Indigo Bunting

Species List (some only seen/heard by leader):
Common Loon
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
American Oystercatcher
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
American Herring Gull
Laughing Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
American Crow
Fish Crow
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
House Sparrow


Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth said...

That was more of a push than an inadvertent knock over but it's okay, Honey. It shows your passion. The trip was fun and the leader was great!

Larry said...

Great job with the pictures-Hooded Warbler-awesome-I've only seen a couple of them.