Monday, May 26, 2008

Heislerville WMA, May 25th

In a fit of enthusiasm I baled out of Princeton at 5:30 am and made my way down I-295 and Rt-55 to Heislerville WMA on the southern Delaware Bay shore in NJ. I got there at 7am and found that I had badly miscalculated the tide and the number of shorebirds in the impoundment was low, and getting lower as they flew out to the saltmarsh to feed.

So instead I headed over to Jake's Landing near Dennisville to try and take photos of the usual suspects - in the case of Jake's Landing this is Seaside Sparrows and Marsh Wrens, neither of which were totally cooperative but I did get a few photographs. I saw a few Clapper Rails flying around (and heard far more) but failed to see any Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrows as I had done there the previous weekend. Surprisingly, given prior experience, I was neither devoured by no-see-ums nor disturbed every five minutes by boat launchers. A couple of cars with birders were all I found there - has this place become unpopular with the boating public ?

Once the sun started to get high and I tired of creeping up on Seaside Sparrows I headed to the nearby Belleplain State Forest and staked out the Prothonotary Warbler site on Sunset Road. As if by magic the male Prothonotary put in an appearance within 5 minutes, singing over the road. I hung out there for a while, taking pictures as it periodically dropped by (or flew by) and then, in what's a first for me at that location, spotted a female Prothonotary being far less conspicuous except for one brief interaction between the two. Also present were assorted usual suspects: Hooded Warbler (I actually saw one), Pine Warbler, a probable Worm-eating Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Towhee. [Note added later - in early June a Swainson's Warbler was reported singing around this spot, but since nobody has laid their eyes on it, it could conceivably be another warbler singing a strange song].

Despite the bust at Heislerville early in the day it turned out to be relatively productive and worthwhile. On the way out I surveyed Heislerville WMA again at closer to high tide (1pm ?) and had the added bonus of a Curlew Sandpiper seen well but in harsh light at 11:30am.

Clapper Rail (Jake's Landing)
Black-bellied Plover (Heislerville WMA)
Semipalmated Plover (Heislerville WMA)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (Heislerville WMA)
Dunlin (Heislerville WMA)
Curlew Sandpiper (Heislerville WMA)
Short-billed Dowitcher (Heislerville WMA)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Belleplain SF)
Acadian Flycatcher (Belleplain SF)
Great Crested Flycatcher (Belleplain SF)
Marsh Wren (Jake's Landing)
Blue-winged Warbler (Belleplain SF)
Yellow-throated Warbler (Belleplain SF)
American Redstart (Jake's Landing)
Prothonotary Warbler (Belleplain SF)
Worm-eating Warbler (Belleplain SF)
Louisiana Waterthrush (Belleplain SF)
Eastern Towhee (Belleplain SF)
Seaside Sparrow (Jake's Landing)
Boat-tailed Grackle (Jake's Landing)

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