Monthly Guest Column
A Summer of Birds
by Jeanine Apgar
is a time when many people give up on birding due to the heat and
spring migration coming to an end. Greg Prelich and I decided to make
the most of the season this year and came up with a plan to explore some
of the harder-to-get-to spots for migrants and breeding birds. It
started out with several hikes and a kayak trip in the Pinelands. We
birded the Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve near Tabernacle, where
there are good open trails, and true to the name, lots of Prairie
Warblers. We also found Pine, Hooded, Black-throated Green, Blue-winged,
and Prothonotary Warblers, American Redstarts, Great Crested
Flycatchers, Phoebes, Peewees, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Summer
Tanagers. And yes, a few ticks. But only a few!
plan was to look for late day species in the Franklin Parker Preserve
by Chatsworth. This naturalized cranberry bog can be hot mid-day, so we
thought evening might be interesting. It doesn’t feel like New Jersey,
but more like some surreal place far away. Pine Barrens Treefrogs were
calling, and Whippoorwills were hawking insects right next to the trail
with their eyes reflecting our flashlights.
summer heated up we had to get out to the water, so many canoe and
kayak outings to the Island Beach Sedge Islands followed. Early in June
we found Red Knots, American Oystercatchers, and enough Common and
Forster’s Terns to perfect our skills at telling them apart. I
considered it good enough to be able to get it right 75% of the time.
But getting better with practice practice practice. Later in July, Royal
Terns began coming in, and it was lots of fun to watch them feeding
their young. They are vocal and loud. We spotted Tri-colored and Little
Blue Herons, and many Short-billed Dowitchers. In August we came across
Marbled Godwits, a beautiful and much sought-after species for us. In
September, re-finding Greg’s Reddish Egret was a thrill, and four Black
Terns was all we hoped for. Success!
Tern heaven in the Sedge Islands: Royal Terns, Common Terns, Forster's Terns, and three Black Terns.
Marbled Godwit Immature Reddish Egret
to find more shorebirds and terns was the aim for a hike on North
Brigantine Natural Area, a 5-plus mile walk on the beach, complete with
greenheads biting us all the way. What won’t we do to see birds! We were
rewarded with gorgeous views of Piping Plovers, huge numbers of
American Oystercatchers and Red Knots. Our reward for walking all the
way to the far… far… end was a single Sandwich Tern, sitting among a
group of Common and Royal Terns, standing out as being larger than the
Commons and smaller than the Royals, with a bill that looks like it is
dipped in mustard. And still, Greg looked behind us and sitting on the
beach was a Lesser Black-backed Gull, an adult with yellow legs making
it a definite identification. All greenheads forgotten.
It's sad to say good-bye to a fabulous summer, but time to look forward to Fall Migration! The birds are coming….
Four Piping Plovers at North Brig Natural
Area Adult breeding Lesser Black-backed Gull
Sandwich Tern and Common Terns
North Brig Natural Area. Look
at all those birds!