Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Negri-Nepote (Dickcissel) and Brigantine/Forsythe NWR - June 23rd/24th

Finally getting things back into gear I went out to local grassland sites on Saturday.  Briefly stopped at Six Mile Run to scope photo opportunities and found it devoid of Grasshopper Sparrow song while I was there.  The best birds were Orchard Orioles (pair, usual spot) but it was just a usual mix of species (Willow Flycatcher, Indigo Bunting, Field Sparrow etc).

Then on to Negri-Nepote which attracted not one but two birding groups while I was there.  Lots of juvenile birds were around, particularly in the cover of the junipers: House Wren, Field Sparrow, Eastern Bluebird.  The main attractions were threefold - Grasshopper Sparrow (regular breeder), Blue Grosbeak (one pair with a singing male) and Dickcissel (one pair with a singing male).  This is the second year that Dickcissels have been here, something that probably has much to do with the ongoing western drought edging the population further east.  I didn't cover much ground but got decent looks at most of the birds including one particularly tame Grasshopper Sparrow.  None of the Grasshopper Sparrows seem to have fledged yet but it's probably not that far off.

Sunday was a visit to Brigantine division of Forsythe NWR, preceded by a brief drive down Great Bay Blvd in Tuckerton.  The latter was a scan for cooperative Saltmarsh Sparrows (none near the road).  At Brigantine the only shorebirds were Willets but the usual summer suspects were in evidence - multiple nesting Ospreys, lots of agitated Willets, Forster's Terns, a variety of herons and ibis.  There were two photographers merrily breaking Federal law at one of the Osprey nests by walking down the embankment - I stopped at the visitor center after the first loop to report them
and was told that based on license plate (PIX2GET) that one of them was a persistent offender.  I heard a Dickcissel but did not see it, but also found my semi-regular terns at the water control structure - one Least Tern and one Common Tern.  After all the other terns this spring (Sooty, Aleutian, many Arctic, Roseate, Forster's, Least, Royal, Caspian) this Common Tern was actually a year bird !  I also added another new 2012 tern, Gull-billed Tern, a little further on.

Actually still birding

Although apparently moribund since mid-May, I've actually been on two birding trips for much of the intervening time.  First was Florida from May 22nd-26th which netted 7 life birds and missed Mangrove Cuckoo.  Second was Alaska from June 1st-12th which gained me 21 life birds with no major misses and put me up at USA list total of 673.  The problem with 673 is that 700 appears to be close, but the going gets abruptly tougher.