Sunday, April 29, 2012

FOY Birds at the Phillips Preserve

Yesterday morning I returned to the John A. Phillips Open Space Preserve for the third time this year to walk the trails and see if any new migrants had moved in. As I mentioned in previous posts on this site, it is part of the Spotswood Outlier, a portion of Pine Barrens forest that lies 20 miles north of the main body of New Jersey's Pine Barrens. The preserve is heavily forested, mostly with Pitch Pines, though there is a substantial section of oak-beech forest. As one would expect in this sort of habitat, there were many singing Pine Warblers. I also heard a surprisingly high number of Ovenbirds (my first for the year), many Yellow-rumped Warblers, and several Black-and-white Warblers (another year first). One Common Yellowthroat was singing in a swampy area. What the warblers lacked in diversity, they made up for in sheer numbers. I heard Ovenbirds singing during my entire walk.

I had one other year first in the form of a Wood Thrush. This bird did not sing, but it did perch nicely on a branch while I took some pictures of it. Other birds present at the site included Chipping Sparrows, two of whom I saw fighting at the edge of the woods. They chased each other while scolding and then confronted each other in mid-air. Eastern Towhees were also very vocal, though I only heard one or two sing. A few large roaming flocks of Carolina Chickadees did not seem to travel in the company of other species.