World Series of Birding 2012

Number of species: 155
Area covered: Cumberland, Cape May & Atlantic Counties
Team: Nick, Steve, Lisa Ann, Rob

We kicked off the big day at Turkey Point. It was a little cool and breeze but there was no man made lights or sounds to compete with the thousands of stars that filled the cloudless sky. What an amazing sight! Soon after midnight we heard a Clapper Rail followed by Virginia Rails. Our 3rd bird of the day was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo but we had not much luck picking up any migrating Thrushes. The Black Rail we had during scouting was also a no show so after a while we moved to our second spot where we had a number of Chuck-will’s-widows and a Screech Owl.

We were getting some birds but not as many as we have liked. Our next stop was Jakes Landing and there we had Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Marsh Wren and Seaside Sparrow. Bellplain was next where we got to see/hear 46 species between 4:30am and 7:00am. Some of the highlights were Green Heron, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, White-breasted Nuthatch, Veery, Brown Thrasher, Worm-eating Warble, Louisiana Waterthrush, Blue-winged Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager and Orchard Oriole. We missed Kentucky Warbler among other things, but hearing and seeing a Veery was a welcome surprise.

Lehrner Road was next and Horned Larks were there to be had but no American Pipits this time around… It was almost 8am when we arrived at Stipson Island Rd. We saw the pair of Northern Harriers that may be nesting nearby, as well as Black-crowned Night-Heron, Bald Eagle and Great Blue Heron but we missed out on White-faced Ibis and Willow Flycatcher. We picked up the pair of Ring-necked Pheasant that has been frequenting the road to East Point Lighthouse and we headed to Heislerville next. Yellow-crowned Night-Herons gave us a scare but they finally showed up as we were getting ready to leave. Ruddy Ducks were there but one one member of the team saw the Hooded Merganser as it driffted in a cove. Both Yellowleggs were present and we were also able to get a Chat on our way out.

We reached Beaver Swamp WMA in Cape May county at 10:15am. Blue Grosbeak was a good addition but no Gull-billed Terns or White-faced Ibis. Miami Ave was next where we picked up Purple Martin, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling but no special gulls. Villas WMA was next. We were a little disoriented as we did not park at the main entrance and we ended up wasting a lot of time tryingto figure out where to go for Red-headed Woodpeckers. We ended up missing them and spent 45 min at the Villas which was way over what we had in mind. We ended up seeing a Canada Warbler which gave us great looks so it was not a total loss.

We were still in good spirits although we knew we missed a few species and we should have managed our time a little better. Cooper’s Hawk and Rose breasted Grosbeak were great additions at Higbees along with the more reliable White-eyed Vireo. The Beanary had some great birds as well – Baltimore Oriole, Hairy Woodpecker, Prothonotary Warbler, Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks to name a few. Meadows produced an American Coot, Gadwall. American Oystercatcher as well as Piping Plover and Least Tern. Sea watching at St. Peter’s dune produced a Black Tern and very a very distant flock of Black Scoter. Along the way, we found one of the two remaining Eurasian Collared-Doves (a third fell to a Cooper’s hawk a few weeks back). State Park produced a nice Tricolored Heron, Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a Rock Dove after some effort… Cove Pool had both Green-winged and Blue-winged Teal. We left Cape Island at 4:00pm – we had plenty left to do and we thought we were doing well on time.

Stone Harbor was next and it produced Peregrine Falcon and Red Knot but no Wimbrel. The Little Blue Heron was easy to find at the Wetlands Institute but not much else was there. We now had to decide what to do about Red-headed Woodpecker. We had heard that there was a pair at the Lizard Trail Swamp but none of us were familiar with the reserve. In the end we decided to go for it and we got to the Swamp right after we checked of Cattle Egret at the nursing home. Lizard Trail turned into an adventure as the trails were poorly marked and we ended upi walking aimlessly for 45min before we found our way back to our car. Interestingly enough, we found the Red-headed Woodpeckers withing a couple hundred feet from where we park! I think we were a lot more excited that we found our way back that to get the target bird!!

After our adventure at Lizard Tail Swamp, we were relieved to arrive at Brig at 6:50pm. That gave us about an hour-and-a-half worth of sunlight which was tight. We started off by hitting the restrooms and exploring the woods nearby. Almost instantly, a Great-horned Owl called and as we looked at each other with a big smile it repeated its call 3-4 times. We headed towards Gull pond where the bugs were out of control. We quickly picked up on the 2 Solitary Sandpipers that were feeding nearby. The tower was crowded (the Atlantic Audubon team was doing a big sit there) so we quickly looked around but could not locate the American Bittern that was reported there in the past couple of days. Caspian Terns were also absent. We then walked on the short dike (had special permission to do so) and as we were swatting bugs we saw a couple of Savannah Sparrows drop in front of us for a few seconds. We looked all around but no Bittern (a couple of weeks later I was informed by the AAS team that we walked right next to the Bittern but it did not move and we did not see it!!).

Time to start driving through the loop and our next addition to our count was a lone Whimbrel feeding in one of the more reliable spots for them . As we continued on the loop we started looking for Gull-billed Terns but all we saw were Forster’s. The lingering Snow Goose crossed the road right in front of us so we did not have to get out the car for it!! We made one last stop to scan for Gull-billed Terns and we were lucky enough to pick one out of a lineup of 7-8 resting/roosting birds. We were all hoping and anticipating for what happened next: as we drove by Jen’s trail we picked up on a bird flying by fairly quickly and 3 of us were able to get our bins on it for a few seconds to confirm that we just saw a Common Nighthawk. We were checking off some good birds but we only had another 5-10 minutes worth of daylight. We stopped at the experimental Pool Overlook and we heard a call of a Yellow breasted Chat but more importantly we saw a female Hooded Merganser in the middle of the pool. A quick walk on the dike did not yield the elusive Bittern. We drove through the wooded area listening intently for the call of a Barred Owl but we never got it (the AAS team did not hear one either).

So what next? We were sitting on 155 birds and the plan called for a visit to Tuckahoe (Black Rail, Least Bittern) and Tyler Road (King Rail and Sora) but Steve came up with a better idea. Let’s call it a night and have a quick dinner before we head home. We stopped at a fast food place and filled out the forms that Rob and Lisa would drop off at the finish line. We felt we had a good run and got most of the target birds although we were a little disappointed that we did not get a higher count. The big miss of the year had to be a Northern Flicker!!

2012 Checklist
  Time Location 2012 CUM
  SWAN, Mute 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
  GOOSE, Snow    
    Brant 2:00 PM Cape May County
    Canada 3:40 AM Jakes Landing
  DUCK, Wood 4:45 AM Belleplain SF
    Gadwall 1:45 PM Cape May Meadows
    American Wigeon        
    American Black 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
    Mallard 3:00 PM Cape May Point SP
    Blue-winged Teal 3:35 PM Cape May Cove Pool
    Northern Shoveler        
    Northern Pintail      
    Green-winged Teal 3:35 PM Cape May Cove Pool
    Greater Scaup        
    Lesser Scaup      
    Common Eider      
    Surf Scoter      
    White-winged Scoter        
    Black Scoter 2:45 PM St. Peter’s dune crossing
    Common Goldeneye        
    Hooded Merganser 8:30 PM Brigantine NWR
    Common Merganser      
    Red-breasted Merganser      
    Ruddy 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
  PHEASANT, Ring-necked 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
  GROUSE, Ruffed      
  TURKEY, Wild 5:45 AM Belleplain SF
  BOBWHITE, Northern        
LOONS – HERONS        
  LOON, Red-throated      
  GREBE, Pied-billed      
  SHEARWATER, Sooty        
    Storm-Petrel, Wilson’s        
  GANNET, Northern      
  PELICAN, Brown        
  CORMORANT, Great        
    Double-crested 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
    American Bittern      
    Least Bittern      
    Great Blue 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
    Great Egret 9:05 AM Heislerville WMA
    Snowy Egret 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
    Little Blue 5:00 PM Stone Harbor Wetlands
    Tricolored 3:15 PM Cape May Point SP
    Cattle Egret 4:30 PM Eastern Shore Nursing
    Green 5:45 AM Belleplain SF
    Black-crowned Night- 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
    Yellow-crowned Night- 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
  IBIS, Glossy 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
  VULTURE, Black 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
  Turkey 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
  OSPREY 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
  KITE, Mississippi      
  EAGLE, Bald 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
  HARRIER, Northern 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
  HAWK, Sharp-shinned      
    Cooper’s 12:30 PM Cape May Higbees Beach
    Northern Goshawk        
    Red-shouldered 1:00 PM Cape May Beanary
    Broad-winged 1:10 PM Cape May Beanary
    Red-tailed 6:45 AM Belleplain SF
    American Kestrel      
    Peregrine 4:45 PM Nummy Island
  RAIL, Black      
    Clapper 12:05 AM Turkey Pt.
    Virginia 12:10 AM Turkey Pt.
  MOORHEN, Common      
  COOT, American 1:30 PM Cape May Meadows
  PLOVER, Black-bellied 9:15 AM Heislerville WMA
    American Golden-        
    Semipalmated 8:40 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Piping 2:00 PM Cape May Meadows
    Killdeer 7:15 AM Lehner rd
  OYSTERCATCHER, American 1:40 PM Cape May Meadows
  AVOCET, American        
    Greater Yellowlegs 3:50 PM Jakes Landing
    Lesser Yellowlegs 9:15 AM Heislerville WMA
    Solitary 7:00 PM Brigantine NWR
    Willet 4:00 AM Jakes Landing
    Spotted 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Whimbrel 7:30 PM Brigantine NWR
    Marbled Godwit        
    Ruddy Turnstone 10:40 PM Villas-Miami Ave. beach
    Red Knot 4:45 PM Nummy Island
    Sanderling 10:40 PM Villas-Miami Ave. beach
    Semipalmated 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Least 7:15 AM Lehner rd
    Dunlin 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Short-billed Dowitcher 8:20 AM Heislerville
  SNIPE, Wilson’s      
  WOODCOCK, American      
  PHALAROPE, Wilson’s        
GULLS & TERNS        
  JAEGER, Parasitic      
  GULL, Laughing 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
    Ring-billed 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Herring 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Lesser Black-backed      
    Great Black-backed 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
  TERN, Gull-billed 7:45 PM Brigantine NWR
    Common 1:00 PM Common Tern
    Forster’s 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
    Least 1:30 PM Cape May Meadows
    Black 2:45 PM St. Peter’s dune crossing
  SKIMMER, Black 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
  DOVE, Mourning 7:15 AM Lehner rd
  PIGEON, Rock 3:00 PM Cape May State Park
  CUCKOO, Black-billed      
    Yellow-billed 1:00 AM Turkey Pt.
  OWL, Barn        
    Eastern Screech- 1:30 AM Hansey Creek Road
    Great Horned 7:00 PM Brigantine NWR
    Northern Saw-whet        
  NIGHTHAWK, Common 8:15 PM Brigantine NWR
  CHUCK-WILL’S-WIDOW 1:15 AM Turkey Pt.
  WHIP-POOR-WILL 3:35 AM Jakes Landing
  SWIFT, Chimney 7:35 AM Papermill rd
  HUMMINGBIRD, Ruby-throated 6:45 AM Belleplain SF
  KINGFISHER, Belted      
  WOODPECKER, Red-headed 5:55 PM Lizard Tail Swamp
    Red-bellied 6:30 AM Belleplain SF
    Yellow-bellied Sapsucker      
    Downy 6:15 AM Belleplain SF
    Hairy 1:15 PM Cape May Beanary
    Northern Flicker      
  FLYCATCHER, Olive-sided        
    Eastern Wood-Pewee 5:50 AM Belleplain SF
    Acadian 5:45 AM Belleplain SF
    Eastern Phoebe 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Great Crested 5:45 AM Belleplain SF
    Eastern Kingbird 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  VIREO, White-eyed 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Red-eyed 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  LARK, Horned 7:30 AM Lehner rd
    Purple Martin 10:40 AM Villas-Miami Ave. beach
    Tree 7:10 AM Lehner rd
    Northern Rough-winged 11:15 AM Villas
    Barn 7:10 AM Lehner rd
  JAY, Blue 8:20 AM Heislerville
  CROW, American 11:20 AM Villas
    Fish 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
  RAVEN, Common      
  CHICKADEE, Black-capped      
    Carolina 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  TITMOUSE, Tufted 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  NUTHATCH, Red-breasted      
    White-breasted 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  CREEPER, Brown      
  WREN, Carolina 12:20 PM Cape May Higbees
    House 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Marsh 4:00 AM Jakes Landing
  KINGLET, Golden-crowned      
  GNATCATCHER, Blue-gray 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  BLUEBIRD, Eastern 7:35 AM Papermill rd
    Veery 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Wood 9:20 AM Heislerville WMA
  ROBIN, American 11:20 AM Villas
  CATBIRD, Gray 1:40 AM Hansey Creek Road
  MOCKINGBIRD, Northern 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  THRASHER, Brown 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  STARLING, European 7:30 AM Lehner rd
  PIPIT, American      
  WAXWING, Cedar 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  WARBLER, Blue-winged 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Northern Parula 11:20 AM Villas
    Yellow 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
    Magnolia 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Cape May        
    Black-throated Blue      
    Yellow-rumped 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Black-throated Green      
    Yellow-throated 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Pine 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Prairie 7:35 AM Papermill rd
    Blackpoll 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Black-and-white 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    American Redstart 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Prothonotary 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Worm-eating 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Ovenbird 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Northern Waterthrush      
    Louisiana Waterthrush 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Common Yellowthroat 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Hooded 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Canada 11:20 AM Villas
    Yellow-breasted Chat 9:10 AM Heislerville WMA
  TANAGER, Summer 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Scarlet 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  TOWHEE, Eastern 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  SPARROW, Chipping 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Field 7:35 AM Papermill rd
    Savannah 7:00 PM Brigantine NWR
    Nelson’s Sharp-tailed        
    Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed      
    Seaside 4:00 AM Jakes Landing
    Song 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Dark-eyed Junco      
  CARDINAL, Northern 11:20 AM Villas
  GROSBEAK, Rose-breasted 12:20 PM Cape May Higbees
    Blue 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
  BUNTING, Indigo 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  BLACKBIRD, Red-winged 8:00 AM Stipson Island Rd
  MEADOWLARK, Eastern 5:00 AM Sumner Ave
  BLACKBIRD, Rusty        
  GRACKLE, Boat-tailed 8:20 AM Heislerville
    Common 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  COWBIRD, Brown-headed 12:25 PM Cape May Higbees
  ORIOLE, Orchard 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
    Baltimore 1:00 PM Cape May Beanary
  FINCH, Purple      
    House 7:35 AM Papermill rd
  CROSSBILL, Red        
  SISKIN, Pine        
  GOLDFINCH, American 6:00 AM Belleplain SF
  GROSBEAK, Evening        
  SPARROW, House 8:30 AM East Point Lighthouse
    Curlew Sandpiper      
    Black-necked Stilt      
    Eurasian Collared-Dove 2:50 PM Cape May Point
    Total     155 230
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