Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘birding’

Report from the Barnegat Bay Birder in Residence

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
Great birding at Island Beach State Park

by Skyler Streich, Barnegat Bay Birder-in-Residence

American Oystercatcher. © Chris Davidson

As the Barnegat Bay Birder-in-Residence for CWF of NJ I led a total of 4 Bird Walks and 4 Birding by Kayak Tours in Island Beach State Park.  It was very successful with a total of 60 people attending the Birding by Kayak trips and a total of 34 participants for my bi-weekly bird walks.  There were many repeat customers, mostly from participants that enjoyed the Birding by Kayak trips so much so they wanted to attend my bird walks too.  The participants ranged from beginners to excellent and avid birdwatchers.  So it was a nice mix of skill levels of bird identification abilities on the trips.  The Birding by Kayak tours were sponsored by the Friends of Island Beach State Park, so they advertised those tours via the IBSP Visitor Guide.  As for my bird walks I advertised them by printing out flyers and distributing them to local businesses like Big Ed’s produce, Lavallette Post Office, Wild Birds Unlimited and Cattus Island County Park.  Also Pete Bacinski of Sandy Hook posted my walks in the Rare Bird Alerts which is posted on the JerseyBirds forum. And of course, they were posted on CWF’s Calendar of Events.

The tours were extremely successful in seeing all of the common birds of the Barnegat Bay area as well as numerous uncommon to rare sightings.  Each kayak tour gave participants the chance to see and compare all the herons and egrets that inhabit the saltmarshes of Barnegat Bay.  Each tour there were juvenile Little Blue Herons, which are all white, and the later tours had Black-crowned Night Herons.  More than once we got to see beautiful and not too common shorebirds like Whimbrels and Marbled Godwits along with the much more common sandpipers and plovers.  Other great shorebirds seen on the BBK trips were Pectoral Sandpipers and a Solitary Sandpiper.  We even had a Caspian Tern amongst the Royal Terns.  It seems that Ospreys were even more abundant this year than last year, with plenty of hatch year juveniles around in late July and August.  Also, American Oystercatchers seemed unusually abundant this year.

Piping plover. © Steve Byland

The bird walks also produced some exciting and uncommon birds.  Least Terns seemed to be in pretty high numbers in August.  Also we had multiple Black Tern sightings in and around the inlet area.  One of the best finds was a group of 8 Common Eiders that decided not to migrate to their arctic breeding grounds and just stay in Island Beach for the summer. We also had 1 single Piping Plover feeding amongst the Sanderlings and Semipalmated Plovers on the shoreline.  That was only the second Piping Plover I have ever seen at IBSP in my life.  So all in all, it was a very successful season with very successful tours and each participant walked away with a greater appreciation of the magnificent birdlife that relies on the Barnegat Bay area for their survival.

Fall Migration is Underway!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Viewing Wildlife and migration studies

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A juvenile black skimmer is viewed through a spotting scope at Forsythe NWR in Oceanville, NJ. © Ben Wurst

Fall migration is underway! Ospreys are headed south for the winter. Juveniles will spend the next two years in their wintering areas in northern South America. Rob Bierregaard, from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has been tracking ospreys from Martha’s Vineyard since 2000. Currently twelve ospreys are fitted with satellite transmitters. Rob uses the data to study migration patterns and the local dispersal of juvenile and adult ospreys. Check out maps from this seasons birds by clicking here. A great place to view ospreys as they travel south is at Cape May Point State Park. Go after a cold front has passed and you should see high numbers of raptors including ospreys on migration.

Red knots, black belly plovers, dunlin, and ruddy turnstones are beginning to show up on beaches along the coastline. Many hop-scotch their way south to their wintering grounds in South America. Great places to view them include Brigantine Inlet, Avalon, Stone Harbor Point, and North Wildwood. Many of these shorebirds are banded with an alpha-numeric color band. If you have a high power spotting scope, then you should be able to read the band. You can contribute your sightings to the International Shorebird Project by submitting your sightings.

Another great website that tracks avian (bird) migration patterns over New Jersey is www.woodcreeper.com. It is run by David La Puma who uses Doppler radar to track movements of birds as they take off on migration, most at night. He is predicting that a large number of birds will take off Wednesday night/Thursday morning after a cold front with winds that prevail from the north passes through. He expects large numbers of migrants to arrive here to “rest and refuel” on Thursday/Friday. Check out this cool graphic of some Doppler radar where you can see birds moving behind the passing cold front (with precipitation).

Get out this weekend and enjoy the beautiful fall weather and watch some of the amazing natural events that take place in New Jersey. Learn key locations to view wildlife by visiting our wildlife viewing map.