Sunday, April 24, 2011

Looking Up: Belleplain Weekend 4

[Most oaks in south Jersey began to flower this week; this newly arrived Scarlet Tanager found insects in the clusters. Belleplain State Forest today. Click to enlarge all photos.]

Warm, calm, clear. Oak flowers bursting, Shadbush and Dogwood flowering, and even more birds singing than I had expected - and I had expected a lot!

[Worm-eating Warbler belts out his song.  Today was the first time I really appreciated how many Worm-eating Warblers inhabit  Belleplain's southern forest habitat - I carefully estimated 22, and suspect even more will be arriving in the coming weeks.]

FOY, FOY, FOY - I knew it was going to be good when a Green Heron flew over as I started my route, and then shortly after an Orchard Oriole and Wood Thrush became FOY's - first-of-year - for me. I believe 14 species were new to Belleplain since last weekend, and FOY's for me.

[Maybe this is the Hooded Warbler we found wintering in Hopkins, Belize in March, now back on his Mountain Laurel-studded territory in Belleplain along Narrows Road. He was one of three today.]

I decided to click Ovenbird, Pine Warbler, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher today, and came up with 74, 33 and 43 respectively.  Last week's low Pine Warbler count was certainly due to the less-good weather and later start. It is interesting to compare numbers since I started this Belleplain thing, both number of species and number of birds:

April 3  -  32 species, 227 individuals
April 10 - 38 species, 352 individuals
April 17 - 39 species, 307 individuals (cool, windy weather, late start)
April 24 - 55 species, 596 individuals

Obviously a major jump in species and indivduals since last week, with the arrival of many neotropical migrants.
[Shadbush blooming along Pine Swamp Road.]

[Big old tom Wild Turkey along Sunset Road. This guy was all colored up, thanks to the hens he was following and trying to impress. Turkeys flood their head with blood when they display, heightening the colors. This was part of the reason Ben Franklin argued for them as the national bird - complete with red, white and blue head!]
[Lovely, lovely Flowering Dogwood at the entrance to Lake Nummy campground.]

Here's the full list from this morning, with more interesting species or counts bolded:
Location: Belleplain State Forest
Observation date: 4/24/11
Notes: Perfect morning. 7-10:30, 15.4 miles. clear, 60's-70's
Number of species: 55

Wood Duck 1
American Black Duck 1
Wild Turkey 10
Green Heron 1 flyover
Black Vulture 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
American Kestrel 1 sumner road
Laughing Gull 25
Herring Gull 5
Great Black-backed Gull 1
Mourning Dove 8
Red-bellied Woodpecker 6
Downy Woodpecker 8
Northern Flicker 4
Acadian Flycatcher 1
Eastern Phoebe 6
Great Crested Flycatcher 8
Eastern Kingbird 4
White-eyed Vireo 10

Blue-headed Vireo 8
Red-eyed Vireo 2

Blue Jay 15
Fish Crow 5
Carolina Chickadee 10
Tufted Titmouse 16
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 2
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 43 clicked
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Wood Thrush 15
American Robin 20
Gray Catbird 3
Brown Thrasher 8
Blue-winged Warbler 1
Northern Parula 2

Yellow-rumped Warbler 15
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Yellow-throated Warbler 8
Pine Warbler 33 clicked
Prairie Warbler 6
Black-and-white Warbler 45 careful estimate
Prothonotary Warbler 2
Worm-eating Warbler 22 careful estimate
Ovenbird 74 clicked
Louisiana Waterthrush 1
Hooded Warbler 2

Eastern Towhee 15
Chipping Sparrow 20
White-throated Sparrow 22
Scarlet Tanager 3
Northern Cardinal 20
Brown-headed Cowbird 30
Orchard Oriole 1
American Goldfinch 20


  1. I really like all of your very informative posts and check your blog often. Could you please answer a question from the "View from the Cape" blog from February 7, 2011 about the diving duck? How can you tell the difference between greater and lesser scaup when you can't see the wing stripes and shape of the head? Thank you very much! Paul, age 11

  2. @Paul, thanks for asking, and I just posted an answer on View From the Cape. Good Birding!