Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Penultimate Belleplain

[The dogwoods are done blooming, and the leaves are filling in: Belleplain on Saturday. A little pink on the near right is a Mountain Laurel getting ready to bloom. This shot, by the way, and all the prior ones like it, have been taken from just uphill of the Sunset Road Bridge, looking east.  ]

Suddenly there are waxwings. Okay, maybe not suddenly, since they've been trickling in for a few days, but the frequent Cedar Waxwings in Bellplain on Saturday were FOY there for me, on this, the 8th consecutive weekend I've wandered the woods there. This time it was by bike, finally (says he of the busted knee). Cycling is way the best mode to explore Belleplain, and, with one more to go, I hope the final one will be by-cycle as well.

With a pretty lame start time of 9:30 a.m., bird song was less frequent. That didn't stop the Barred Owls, not far from Lake Nummy.  I hooted a couple times at a place I'd had them before, got no response, and we cycled on. A quarter mile down the road we ran into Karen Williams, also on a bike, and as we chatted the pair of Barred Owls began letting loose, apparently having thought over what I'd said long enough.

Karen described watching an Acadian Flycatcher knock water droplets off a spider web and bathe in them, neat stuff. I think, if I do this Belleplain thing again some future spring, I'll do it differently. Rather than covering ground, trying to survey the forest, I'll slow it down, and hang with individual birds.

 [A few Mountain Laurels were in full bloom, but only those in warmer microclimates, like this one at the sunny side of a clearing. Peak bloom will be sometime next week. You'll see this shrub throughout south Jersey - they're standing out along the Garden State Parkway, for example.]

Between the late start and slower mode of transport, my estimated numbers for various birds were lower, but everything is still there. Well, everything except that Kentucky Warbler at Sunset Bridge, which may still be there but was MIA when we paused to listen.

Three different Louisiana Waterthrushes were singing, including one at Sunset Bridge, of interest since they were feeding young there last week (or was that two weeks ago)? I'm curious to see if they try a second brood, there is certainly time for it, even for a bird that heads south so early. Lousiana's appear as migrants in Cape May in July.

[This Ring-billed Gull loafing on Lake Nummy was the third new-for-Belleplain species this trip. Most Ring-billeds have pulled out for the breeding grounds, but a few, mostly 1st cycles like this one (you can see the mottled, worn wing coverts) will persist through June.]

Here's the list from Saturday:

Location: Belleplain State Forest
Observation date: 5/21/11
Notes: by bike, 9:30-12:00 noon, 8 miles, clear, 60's-70's. With Becky.
Number of species: 41

Canada Goose 8
Turkey Vulture 2
Osprey 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Laughing Gull 50
Ring-billed Gull 1
Mourning Dove 2
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 2
Barred Owl 2

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Eastern Wood-Pewee 8
Acadian Flycatcher 5
Eastern Phoebe 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 10
White-eyed Vireo 5
Red-eyed Vireo 15
Carolina Chickadee 2
Tufted Titmouse 8
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5
Wood Thrush 6
American Robin 8
Gray Catbird 2
Cedar Waxwing 6
Yellow-throated Warbler 5
Pine Warbler 5
Black-and-white Warbler 3
American Redstart 1
Prothonotary Warbler 1
Worm-eating Warbler 5
Ovenbird 10
Louisiana Waterthrush 3
Hooded Warbler 3
Summer Tanager 2
Scarlet Tanager 5
Northern Cardinal 2
Indigo Bunting 1
Common Grackle 5
Brown-headed Cowbird 6
Orchard Oriole 1
House Sparrow 3

[How to attract butterflies: plant a dead raccoon. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail obtaining salts and nutrients.]

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