Saturday, May 19, 2012

Next Ten Species in Middlesex County

The birds I saw last weekend during our World Series of Birding run and Corey's predictions about the future of his Queens list remind me that I never posted a listing wishlist at the beginning of this year. At this point, any lists I posted at the beginning of the year would need to be revised anyway since my county list has grown since then. I reached one of my listing goals in January – 200 species in Middlesex County – with a Rough-legged Hawk that Patrick found for me at Sayreville Marsh. With my current county list at 212 species, it still has room to grow, though there is not an obvious target number at the moment. The trouble is that the longer a bird list becomes, the harder it becomes to add new species. Here are the species I think I am most likely to see next in the county, in roughly taxonomic order.

Fox Sparrow / Creative Commons Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar
  1. Northern Shoveler: Freshwater dabbling ducks tend not to hang around very long, so finding one will be a matter of luck.
  2. Cattle Egret: One of these is bound to show up at Donaldson Park sooner or later.
  3. Pectoral Sandpiper: As long as Donaldson Park has mud puddles and Johnson Park has a pond with mud flats, I think one of these is a good possibility during migration.
  4. Short-billed Dowitcher: These have appeared at Morgan Mudflats in the past, so finding one is just a matter of being there at the right time.
  5. Little Gull: This species has eluded me despite repeated attempts to see one, but I will see one eventually.
  6. Yellow-billed Cuckoo: These cuckoos are so common that I am surprised I have not seen or heard one yet in this county.
  7. Horned Lark: Some have been seen in a nearby town, so I figure that I must have a shot at seeing some.
  8. Fox Sparrow: This is one of my favorite birds, but it is hard to find locally.
  9. Snow Bunting: Some of these must visit Perth Amboy and South Amboy occasionally in winter.
  10. Eastern Meadowlark: Middlesex County has little habitat for open-country birds, but there is enough that I ought to find one of these eventually.
Ruffed Grouse / Creative Commons Photo by Seabamirum
While I am talking about listing, here are ten life birds that I want to see. All of them are possible in New Jersey, though few are resident species.
  1. Little Gull: I would really like to take this species off my nemesis list.
  2. Ruffed Grouse: Another species I have sought previously without success.
  3. Hudsonian Godwit: A difficult species to find in New Jersey, though they do show up annually.
  4. Ruff: A spectacular species in breeding plumage, but more likely to be encountered in something more subtle.
  5. Red Phalarope: The only phalarope I have not seen yet.
  6. Barn Owl: Finding one of these will be tough in New Jersey even though these owls are fairly common.
  7. Ash-throated Flycatcher: This species has eluded me on previous occasions when I looked for it.
  8. Bohemian Waxwing: This species is somewhat unpredictable in its movements, but any large  Cedar Waxwing flock in winter might have a Bohemian Waxwing or two accompanying it.
  9. Painted Bunting: This species is simply too cool not to include, and they do show up in New Jersey occasionally.
  10. Yellow-headed Blackbird: This is also one I have sought before; finding one will probably be a matter of getting lucky.
As with the Middlesex County list, it is getting harder for me to find new species in this state.