Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Very Birdy Road

 [Black-necked Stilt, Tuckerton, NJ today.]

Sometimes you look up at just the right time - which makes one wonder how often you don't. In any case, I glanced up from the SHARP marsh bird survey data sheet this morning in time to naked-eye a Black-necked Stilt passing over Great Bay Boulevard in Tuckerton, NJ. With SHARP, you're recording  a lot of data, and Tuckerton is so marsh bird rich (e.g. 50ish Clapper Rails, 70ish Seaside Sparrows this morning), there's no time for recreational birding. Unless a stilt flies over, in which case you run to the car for the camera to at least get a record shot. Stilts were once common breeders in coastal NJ - in the 1800's. Now they're just stragglers (there have been birds seen this spring at Forsythe NWR and Heislerville WMA), though attempted breeding was proven in 1993 during the NJ Breeding Bird Atlas.

Great Bay Boulevard, by the way, is just riddled with birds, and yet it seems to me hardly anyone birds there anymore. Pity - the birds are often close to the road, too. Birds like Gull-billed Terns, Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, and migrant shorebirds.

We're banding at our MAPS station in Bear Swamp, Cumberland County NJ tomorrow, which will conclude what feels like a year's worth of birding in just one week for me, a week that also included the Bashakill Wetlands, Doodletown, Shawagunk NWR, and Slide Mountain, NY; Stone Harbor/Gull Island, NJ; and Tuckerton, NJ today. More to follow on all these places, and their birds, and plants, and beauty.

 [Eastern Willets run rampant in NJ salt marshes in May and June, courting and calling and doing marvelous high aerial displays. This one descends to nesting habitat after such a flight, Tuckerton this morning.]

[Willow Flycatchers aren't exactly salt marsh birds, but they like the shrub islands fringing marshes, like the one at the end of Great Bay Boulevard in Tuckerton.]

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