Sunday, May 14, 2017

Plainfield Township Recreation Trail ~ May 14, 2017

I led a walk along the Plainfield Township Recreation Trail today. The rain had pulled out the night before and the morning turned out to be cool with cloudy conditions giving way to intervals of sun and clouds. We headed south from the parking area along Knitters Mill Road, quickly finding Baltimore Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo, and Common Yellowthroat. We found a nice group of warblers at the first stream crossing. Warblers spotted there included Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, and American Redstart. We also had a probable Tennessee Warbler that never gave us a definitive look. Cedar Waxwing and Scarlet Tanager were also found there.

We eventually tore ourselves away and continued south. We walked all the way down to the second stream crossing, which is just south of Rasleytown Road, and turned around there. Along the way, we heard Ovenbird and saw Black-and-white Warbler and Eastern Bluebird among others.

Just before getting back to the first stream crossing, a Black-billed Cuckoo was spotted right next to the trail, giving everyone a really nice look.

At the same spot, a Wilson's Warbler was spotted, which everyone got fairly good looks at.

Back at the first stream crossing, a Bay-breasted Warbler was found. A Louisiana Waterthrush was briefly seen downstream from the bridge. It was definitely my best birding day so far this spring.

The trip yielded 61 species, which included 15 species of warblers.

Plainfield Township Recreation Trail Trip List

1) Canada Goose
2) Mallard
3) Great Blue Heron (flyover)
4) Turkey Vulture
5) Black Vulture
6) Red-tailed Hawk
7) American Kestrel (along Knitters Mill Road)
8) Rock Pigeon
9) Mourning Dove
10) Black-billed Cuckoo (close, cooperative bird)
11) Chimney Swift
12) Red-bellied Woodpecker
13) Northern Flicker
14) Downy Woodpecker
15) Pileated Woodpecker (heard only)
16) Eastern Phoebe
17) Great Crested Flycatcher
18) Blue-headed Vireo (heard only)
19) Red-eyed Vireo
20) Warbling Vireo
21) Blue Jay
22) American Crow
23) Fish Crow
24) Barn Swallow
25) Tufted Titmouse
26) Black-capped Chickadee
27) House Wren
28) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
29) Eastern Bluebird
30) Wood Thrush
31) Veery
32) American Robin
33) Gray Catbird
34) Northern Mockingbird
35) European Starling
36) Cedar Waxwing
37) Northern Parula
38) Chestnut-sided Warbler
39) Magnolia Warbler (several)
40) Yellow-rumped Warbler
41) Black-and-white Warbler
42) Black-throated Blue Warbler
43) Blackburnian Warbler (several)
44) Black-throated Green Warbler
45) Bay-breasted Warbler (female)
46) Yellow Warbler
47) Wilson’s Warbler (male)
48) Ovenbird
49) Louisiana Waterthrush
50) Common Yellowthroat
51) American Redstart
52) Scarlet Tanager (a few)
53) Chipping Sparrow
54) Song Sparrow
55) Northern Cardinal
56) Red-winged Blackbird
57) Common Grackle
58) Brown-headed Cowbird
59) Baltimore Oriole
60) American Goldfinch
61) House Sparrow

Friday, February 17, 2017

Florida Trip ~ February 12, 2017

After constantly reading about a Bananaquit that was being seen in southern Florida, I told Jason Horn I was thinking about going down there to try for it. He was interested in trying for Western Spindalis, which was also being seen down there since he had never seen one in the A.B.A. area. So, I told him I'd check out United Airlines flights since we both had $100.00 vouchers that we got after having to spend seven hours to get from Philadelphia to Scranton on our last trip, a distance that we could have driven in less than three! Surprisingly, I found round-trip flights to Fort Lauderdale for under $105.00 and decided to 'pull the trigger', costing each of us a measly total of $4.60!

At 2:00 AM on Sunday, I picked up Jason at his house and we headed for the Philadelphia airport. We boarded our flight to Washington, D.C., switched planes, and flew on to Fort Lauderdale. We got our rental car and drove to Richardson Historic Park and Nature Preserve, where the Bananaquit was hanging out. There, we met Ken Rieker and his wife, who drove over from the west coast. We spent the remainder of the afternoon there looking for it at the two places it visited the most, but it never showed. The area next to Building 'K' held a couple Spot-breasted Orioles.

A Western Tanager, a pretty good bird for Florida, also made an appearance there.

Jason spotted a dark morph Short-tailed Hawk soaring overhead.

Several Painted Buntings were in the brush inside the park.

Other notable birds seen there included White Ibis, Cooper's Hawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, White-eyed Vireo, and warblers that included Palm, Prairie, Yellow-rumped, Common Yellowthroat, and Northern Parula.

We spent the night at the Galt Villas Inn in Fort Lauderdale.

Florida Trip ~ February 13, 2017

We spent the morning back at Richardson Historic Park and Nature Preserve. At about 7:50 AM, Jason spotted the Bananaquit just above the fence behind the coral bean that the bird had been visiting weeks before. He finally got me on it and I managed to get to see the bold white eyebrow, downcurved bill, and yellow patch on the belly during the roughly half-minute that it was in view. It was so quick a look that I never had a chance to get a photo of the bird before it moved left out of sight behind some trees and brush.

We moved to behind Building 'K' since that was the direction that the bird was heading but never refound it. While there, a flock of Blue-crowned Parakeets flew in and fed in the surrounding trees.

A few Red-crowned Parrots joined them.

Back inside the park, I was only able to get a poor photo of the Hooded Warbler that set up a winter shop near the boardwalk.

New birds not seen the afternoon before included Blue-headed Vireo and warblers that included Orange-crowned, Yellow-throated, and Black-throated Blue.

We left the park, got something to eat, and drove south to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne to look for Jason's Western Spindalis, which had recently been seen just south of the park office. A Great Crested Flycatcher was perched along the trail.

Later, I got a distant photo of one of the two White-crowned Pigeons feeding on a fig tree.

Additional birds noted there were Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, White Ibis, Black Vulture, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, a light morph Short-tailed Hawk, Laughing, Herring, and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Royal Tern, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinal, Painted Bunting, and warblers that included Palm, Prairie, Yellow-rumped, Cape May, Orange-crowned, Black-and-white, Northern Parula, and Common Yellowthroat. Unfortunately, the Western Spindalis wasn't on the list.

Just before sunset, we also tried unsuccessfully for a Kirtland's Warbler that had been found near the No Name Harbor area of the park a couple days before. We left the park at dusk and headed back to the mainland.

The night was spent at the Wishes Motel in Miami, which turned out to be one of the worst motels I've ever stayed in. The photos showed a pool in front of the rooms, but it was filled in and covered with stone. It was a good thing we weren't planning on using it. Once in the room, the fan squeaked like the parakeets we had seen that day, the toilet made a weird noise when you flushed it, the tub was nasty-looking, and a little friend that Jason called the "starter roach" greeted me on the cracked sink. There were no wash rags---only the two towels that the "starter roach" tried to hide under before Jason sent him to 'roach heaven'. I told him that everyone that goes there probably 'wishes' they'd never stayed at the 'Wishes' Motel. No wonder it was a steal at just over $100.00 for the night!

Florida Trip ~ February 14, 2017

We left our 'exceptional' motel and headed back to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Once again, we staked out the area south of the park office where the Western Spindalis was last reported. Just a few feet off the trail, Jason spotted a Swainson's Warbler, which amazingly cooperated long enough for me to get a few decent photos of it.

While waiting and hoping, I got some nice photos of other birds that were frequenting the area.
Black-and-white Warbler

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Palm Warbler

Eastern Phoebe

Other notables in that area were Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Parula, Prairie Warbler, Painted Bunting, and Baltimore Oriole.

Just north of the lighthouse, a Common Ground-Dove flew up and perched in a tree.

Around noon, we left the area and went over to No Name Harbor to give another try for the Kirtland's Warbler. A Royal Tern sat on a buoy at the harbor entrance.

Instead of the Kirtland's, we found Belted Kingfisher and a good number of Iguanas. This Black Spiny-tailed Iguana mounted a rock for a photo.

Back at the parking lot, a Magnificent Frigatebird circled overhead.

Next, we left Bill Baggs and drove the short distance north to Crandon Park where there were older reports of another Spindalis by the amusement area. There were a few Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and a Sandhill Crane that called as it walked around the park. And of course, there were the usual suspects----Double-crested Cormorant, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Fish Crow, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler, Boat-tailed Grackle, and many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Palm Warblers. Every once in a while, a Yellow-throated would come out and pose in the sunlight.

At the southern end of the park, the Crandon Gardens provided many photo opportunities.
Tricolored Heron

Common Gallinule

Anhinga peeking around brush.

Anhinga drying out its wings.

Turkey Vulture

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Egyptian Goose

American Coots were also there among the Common Gallinules.

A walk out to the beach produced Semipalmated Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated and Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Laughing, Ring-billed, and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Royal Tern, and a few Piping Plovers, which were definitely photo-worthy.

We stayed there until around sunset and reluctantly headed back onto the mainland. Our next two nights were spent at the Univeral Palms Motel in North Fort Lauderdale.

Florida Trip ~ February 15-16, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Since Hugh Taylor Birch State Park didn't open until 8:00 AM, we decided to spend the early morning at Richardson Park where we'd have another chance at getting better looks, and maybe a photo, of the Bananaquit, but the bird never showed before we left.

We checked out Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, the last remote chance for Western Spindalis, but again came up empty. Brown Pelicans soared by and an American Kestrel landed on a distant snag.

The same sample of landbirds were found there. I couldn't resist taking more photos of the Yellow-thoateds since, here in Pennsylvania, we usually find them way up at the tops of the sycamores.

We decided to head over to Evergreen Cemetery to see if we could find the Black-throated Gray Warbler that had been reported there. This cemetery had produced a Variegated Flycatcher that I was happy to see back in October of 2015. When we got there, the winds had picked up substantially. Palm Warblers littered the grass among the tombstones. One fig tree held at least 60-70 warblers that included Palm, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-throated, Black-and-white, Northern Parula, and a Pine Warbler, but we never picked out the Black-throated Gray.

Jason agreed that we'd spend most of the afternoon back at Richardson Park where we'd have one last chance at the Bananaquit. Again, it was a no-show, although a dark morph Short-tailed Hawk did give us additional looks.

One other life bird that I had a chance for was Nanday Parakeet. I figured I'd eventually run into one in my travels the last time I was down in south Florida, but it never happened. It hadn't happened again this trip either. The Tropical Audubon Society's website listed areas to look for them. We tried late in the day for them along Griffin Road but only found Monk Parakeets. I guess I'm going to have to get over to the Tampa area next time to make sure I see one.

We headed back to our motel and packed up for our early morning flight back home.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

We grabbed our early morning flight out of Fort Lauderdale, switched planes in Chicago, and returned to the colder weather in Philadelphia. All flights were uneventful, so I guess I'll have to pay full airfare on my next trip.

All photos from the trip can be found in my Florida Photo Album.

Florida Trip List (February 12-15, 2017)

1) Egyptian Goose
2) Magnificent Frigatebird
3) Brown Pelican
4) Anhinga
5) Double-crested Cormorant
6) Tricolored Heron
7) Cattle Egret
8) Great Egret
9) White Ibis
10) Turkey Vulture
11) Black Vulture
12) Osprey
13) Cooper's Hawk
14) Short-tailed Hawk (dark morph and light morph)
15) Red-shouldered Hawk
16) American Kestrel
17) Peregrine Falcon
18) Common Gallinule
19) American Coot
20) Sandhill Crane
21) Piping Plover
22) Semipalmated Plover
23) Ruddy Turnstone
24) Sanderling
25) Dunlin
26) Semipalmated Sandpiper
27) Least Sandpiper
28) Laughing Gull
29) Ring-billed Gull
30) Herring Gull
31) Lesser Black-backed Gull
32) Royal Tern
33) White-crowned Pigeon
34) Rock Pigeon
35) Mourning Dove
36) Eurasian Collared-Dove
37) Common Ground-Dove
38) Monk Parakeet
39) Blue-crowned Parakeet
40) Red-crowned Parrot
41) Ruby-throated Hummingbird
42) Belted Kingfisher
43) Red-bellied Woodpecker
44) Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
45) Downy Woodpecker
46) Eastern Phoebe
47) Great Crested Flycatcher
48) White-eyed Vireo
49) Blue-headed Vireo
50) Blue Jay
51) Fish Crow
52) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
53) Gray Catbird
54) Northern Mockingbird
55) European Starling
56) Orange-crowned Warbler
57) Northern Parula
58) Cape May Warbler
59) Yellow-rumped Warbler
60) Black-and-white Warbler
61) Black-throated Blue Warbler
62) Yellow-throated Warbler
63) Prairie Warbler
64) Pine Warbler
65) Palm Warbler
66) Hooded Warbler
67) Swainson's Warbler
68) Common Yellowthroat
69) Western Tanager
70) Bananaquit*
71) Northern Cardinal
72) Painted Bunting
73) Red-winged Blackbird
74) Common Grackle
75) Boat-tailed Grackle
76) Baltimore Oriole
77) Spot-breasted Oriole
78) House Finch
79) House Sparrow

* Denotes "Life Bird."

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Black-backed Oriole in PA! ~ February 3, 2017

Word got out of a "different" oriole that was visiting feeders in Sinking Spring, PA. Further investigation by local birders revealed the bird to be a Black-backed Oriole, a Mexican endemic! I headed down there and met up with Jason Horn, Tom Johnson, Melissa Roach, and several others. Soon after getting out of the car, Tom spotted the bird next to the feeder at the rear of 20 Indiana Street. I managed to get some documentation photos of the bird before it moved out the back and flew westward.

Note the black head with orange-yellow 'spectacles', the small black bib, the all-black back, bold white wing patches, and the orange-yellow underparts with black sides.

If accepted, this bird would represent the 2nd North American record and, obviously, a 1st Pennsylvania record! The first North American record was of a bird in southern California that was not accepted due to its question of origin. The same situation may apply to this bird.