Sunday, March 31, 2013

In Spring, a Young Man's Fancy Turns to Heislerville

 [The lone dark bird at left in the flock of Snowy Egrets is the season's first Glossy Ibis, at Heislerville, NJ on Saturday. Click to enlarge photos.]

Zeroes are still data, and so I hereby report zeroes for Little Gull and Black-headed Gull and every other damn rare gull on the Delaware Bayshore from Norbury's Landing south to Cape May Point and back again on Saturday morning. Grrrrr. You can add a zero for the Glaucous Gull at Bivalve, which we dipped on Saturday afternoon after Brian Johnson showed me a photo of it he had taken Friday.

Heislerville was much more satisfying, with first of year (for me) Snowy Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper and a riddling of 1200+ Green-winged Teal with smaller numbers of other ducks, including two pairs of Blue-winged Teal in the main impoundment. Heislerville is a happening place in spring. High tide is traditionally best here, because tidal shorebird habitat is flooded then, making the impoundments that much more attractive to the hordes.

If you go, be aware that Matt's Landing Road is closed for construction, so to access the impoundments you have to drive the loop backwards, heading through Heislerville and on towards East Point before picking up the dirt road for the wildlife loop on the right. The impoundment you come to first when going backwards is the one I always called the "second" impoundment, the one with all the phragmites in back of it. This one is tidal, and at high tide had almost no shorebird habitat. The main impoundment is partially drawn down already and good for shorebirds, and interestingly the impoundment along Matt's Landing Road (the one with the heron rookery island) is also low and has shorebird habitat in the upper end.

 [The PSE&G -built boardwalk at Bivalve was wrecked by Hurricane Sandy and remains impassable.]

While I'm giving out tips on birding spots, here's one: don't drive your car through the shells at Bivalve, which will impart a lasting south Jersey experience, that of rotten clam bits baking onto your muffler. Yum. Better to take a friend's car. Also, as you can see from the photo above, part of the boardwalk has been damaged.

An idea just popped into my head. With limited birding time, to maximize birds, a great spring 1-2 punch is Belleplain State Forest followed by Heislerville. I'm just saying.. . .you might see that combo here repeatedly this spring. A couple years ago I hit Belleplain every weekend for 9 straight weeks, why not add Heislerville to that mix?

 [This cooperative Brown Creeper entertained the crowd during the CMBO walk at Cox Hall Creek WMA on Sunday morning.]

[Red-winged Blackbird challenges my car at close range along the Nummy Island causeway. I once owned a red Jeep Cherokee, and in spring had Red-wingeds in fits when I drove by. The response to my current silver truck is much milder.]

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