Saturday, April 16, 2011

Empty Gulling

Yesterday morning I went back to South Amboy to check for the gulls I missed last week and to see what other birds might be around. Sad to say, none of the gulls I was hoping for (Glaucous Gull, Black-headed Gull, and Little Gull) were on the beach. In fact, there were hardly any gulls at all. I did not even see any Bonaparte's Gulls. Little Gull would be a life bird and the others are locally uncommon.

Pardon me, did you lose a fish?

Is Little Gull becoming a nemesis? It has strong competition in the form of Ruffed Grouse, but consider this. In the past month, I have been to locations where it was reported on three occasions and missed it all three times. On two of those occasions, the Little Gull was reported at or near the location on the same day, either shortly before or shortly after I was there. That seems like the makings of a nemesis, even if it is not quite there yet.

The woods across the railroad track were a bit more birdy than the mudflats. There were a lot of early-season warblers, mainly Yellow-rumped, but also Pine and Palm. Most of them were in bright alternate plumage, but one of the Yellow-rumped Warblers looked really ratty. I barely recognized it since its feathers were so worn and disheveled. A few Hermit Thrushes were around, and there were four Brown Creepers. One surprise was a Northern Bobwhite, a bird I was totally not expecting in that location. It called repeatedly for as long as I was within earshot. The bobwhite became my 180th bird for Middlesex County.

When birding in New Jersey, watch where you step!