Monday, September 21, 2009

Not Without the Hubble

I did alot on Saturday birding-wise. We started at Palmyra Cove which was the subject of the last post. I didn't want to overwhelm you all with the entire day, so here is the afternoon/evening post from Saturday.

After a late breakfast at Nifty Fifty's, we all went our separate ways. Lori had a funeral to attend and I had yard work. At about 1:30, I got a call from Lori with that tone in her voice. "What are doooin'?" with that long doooo that suggests that she regrets saying no to hawk watching at Fort Washington State Park. Needless to say, we met 30 minutes later at the hawk watch platform. This is a picture of what we saw:

Nothing but blue sky. Gorgeous, blue sky. The official hawk counters were calling off hawks with statements like - "Does that dot in the sky have a white head?" and "No, the big dot above the 3 little dots". We failed to bring the Hubble Telescope with us, so we saw nothing. What a bust. We didn't even see anything in the woods on our little walk. One Peregrine Falcon screamed by and 2 resident Red-tailed Hawks soared around for a little bit, but nothing else.

Then my sister wanted to go for a motorcycle ride. Off we went with binoculars under our motorcycle jackets. I decided to go to Lorimer Park rather than Pennypack Trust since we didn't have the dogs along. Lorimer Park does not allow dogs - or so we thought. They recently completed a rails to trails project that we wanted to explore and I noticed a poop bag dispenser on the trail. Hmmm. Then we met a couple walking dogs and asked about it. Yes, dogs are allowed in the park now. Yeah!

Also, we saw great birds along the path. Black-throated blue warblers (2 males/1 female), 2 Chestnut-sided warblers, and a Catbird all chowing down on berries in the Tree of Heaven. What a great photo op. Beautiful blue birds against a pink flower background. No camera :-(

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Flush that Thrush Redux

4 of us decided to try Palmyra Cove Park based on the recommendation from Delaware Valley Ornithology Club's website. They have a monthly recommendation page which lists Palmyra Cove as good for September. The park is just over the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and stretches along the Delaware River for a mile. The park is a former dredge waste site that is now woods and ponds with trails.

We arrived at 7 AM and started walking the trail (with no map). We came across a nice mixed flock of warblers and vireos in an open field with some small trees. It was one of those situations where you go into overload because there is too much to look at all at once. "Look here" "What's that" "Up there" "Top of the tree". Right in the midst of all of that, a man with binoculars and one of those really dorky vests stomped past us, paused, and grumbled "Black-throated blue". Then stomped off. We all just dropped our binoculars and cracked up.

We came across other birds including a couple of Palm Warblers, Scarlet Tanager, Black-throated Green, and Nashville warbler. We met a young guy who told us how to get to the "warbler hole" so we decided to walk past on our way out of the park. There was a group of birders at the hole when we arrived being led by the stomper. What are the chances? Lo and behold, it's the same guy from the port-o-pot in Cape May last week! Of course, I mozied over and asked him if he flushed any thrushes today. We both had a good laugh.

Anyway, Palmyra Cove turned out to be a good new local birding spot. Unfortunately, no dogs allowed.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Slow Start, Mack & Manco's, Spoonbill

Two of our Phillybirdnerds are in Florida this week. Constantly texting us their latest Bald Eagle report. Bald Eagle this and Bald Eagle that. The weather report made it seem like we would see good birds in Cape May today. Rain ending on Saturday and clearing on Sunday. I was itching to go. Connie said that she would go under one condition - Mack and Manco's pizza for lunch. It was a deal!

We picked up Di and Barbara and got out of Philly by 6:30 AM. At Higbee Beach by 8:00. It was overcast and damp. The parking lot was full. More professional bird guides than unpaid birders. More birders than birds for sure.

Di and I came across a group looking at a Black Rat Snake in the tree just behind the port-o-john. We got great looks at a Brown Thrasher and 2 Northern Waterthrushes who were all upset by the snake. We met a man who coined the phrase "Flush the thrush" after a lady came out of the portapotty and let the door slam thus scaring the waterthrushes away. We really struggled for almost 2 hours walking the fields to get a few warblers. Di and Barbara got to see a Philadelphia Vireo for the first time.

We went to the Cape May Hawk Watch aka The Lighthouse around 10:30. We learned our lesson at Higbee and didn't spend too much time looking for anything that wasn't obvious. A Merlin almost took our heads off and so did a Sharpie.

Off to Ocean City boardwalk for pizza. YUM! Just like the old days. Plain cheese Mack and Manco's pizza followed up by Kohr Bros. ice cream cones. The diet starts tomorrow.

There have been reports of a Roseate Spoonbill at Forsythe NWR for a month. We went, we saw it. Bald Eagle huh? How about flipping Spoonbill? Here is the photographic proof:

It's the big pink bird with the spoon shaped bill upper right part of the photo.
What in the world? How does a Roseate Spoonbill that lives in mangroves end up in NJ?

We also got to see some of our favorite birds: Black Skimmers and American Oystercatchers. Here is a photo of the Skimmers with some gulls: