Wanamassa Birds

I frequently stroll the streets of Wanamassa, NJ, with camera at the ready to take pictures of birds.

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Location: Ocean, New Jersey, United States

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Great Crested Flycatcher

We have a municipal golf course in town. After my session with the red-tailed hawk at the church, I went out again looking for black-crowned night herons at the water behind the Methodist Church office on Wickapecko. I didn't see any. So I decided to take a look at the golf course. I introduced myself and expressed interest in the possibility of taking bird pictures on the course. They pointed out that not all golfers have pinpoint accuracy. But John offered to give me a ride in a golf cart to see what we could find. It was quite late in the day and it was still overcast. At the 8th tee, I heard a bird call I didn't recognize. It was a harsh, abrupt call repeated three times. I spotted the bird making the call. There were two of them, but only one posed for the camera.

I did not recognize the bird. But thanks to "Birding nut" at the Garden Web Bird Watching Forum I now realize that it is a Great Crested Flycatcher. While researching the bird in Sibley's, we'd skipped over flycatchers because the size didn't seem to fit. This bird appeared to be much smaller than the 8.75 inches attributed to it by Sibley's, but I think perhaps we were overlooking the length of its tail.

Also, Sibley's suggests much brighter colors that we see here, but remember that these shots were taken in the gloom of early evening on an overcast day in the shadows of a glade of trees.

Red-tailed hawk on spire

Pam had been at the church all day. Late afternoon, she called to tell me that one of the red-tailed hawks was sitting on the church spire. I rushed over and there it was. Unusually, in my experience, it was facing east. I should mention that it was very overcast and so the original images I took were rather dark. I had to do significant post-processing on the computer to get the color into these shots, particularly the ones of the bird in flight.

While it is not obvious from this picture, it started issuing loud calls. It hunched its shoulders a little as it did this, and you can just about see that in this shot.

Thinking/hoping that it was calling to its mate, I rushed around to the front of the church, scanning the sky. But no, it was not calling its mate; rather, it was preparing to itself take to the sky.

Take off!

At first, it worked hard to gain height.

It looped around a couple of times before flying off to the west.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Four locations on Saturday Afternoon

I set out first to stop by the Fireman's Pond to check on the wood duck and her brood of five wood ducklings, but there across the street in a rather bedraggled looking tree was this song sparrow.

I saw the duck at the other end of the pond from where I'd parked. As I made my way over, I disturbed a green heron. This was the first one I've seen this year. I took this shot just in case it didn't hang around.

The wood duck had moved her family out of the water and I'm pleased to report that all five of them were there, although you can only see two of them in this picture.

Rather than moving on, the green heron focused on feeding itself, moving out into the water and thus into a better view for me:

It either swallowed its catch very quickly or came up empty!

And then the heron took to the skies.

So I made my way over to Shark River Hills. It was high tide so there weren't many shorebirds to be seen (other than a large number of swans that I chose not to photograph). I was at first fooled by this bird. It looks so like a sparrow of some kind that I was searching through that section of Sibley's until is suddenly hit me that this was obviously a female red winged blackbird.

This should have been more obvious to me given how many red wing blackbirds there were there. I didn't get a really good shot of any of them, but these two aren't bad.

This one would have been great had it not been for that piece of vegetation obscuring the tail.

Now here's why I want a longer lens. I didn't even realize there was a bird in this picture until I saw it on the computer. That's a juvenile bald eagle sitting beside the nest.

Here's another picture that would have benefited from a longer lens. I'd been watching the osprey on the left for quite a while hoping it would do something interesting (like fly towards me) when the second bird suddenly showed up.

I made my way over to the environmental center and discovered they've cut a new path through the woods that allowed me to get this close-up shot of an osprey's nest.

These last three images were taken from inside the center through a not particularly clean window. When I'm shooting through glass, I try to get my camera as close to the glass as possible to get it as far out of focus as possible so it has a minimal impact on the image.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Close Encounter

Thursday, late afternoon. I strolled up the street hoping to see an interesting bird. This one was interesting, but not in the sense I meant: just another robin in a small tree across the street:

It was making a call I didn't recognize. I didn't expect to be able to get very close to the bird:

But it sat there apparently oblivious of me, although perhaps some of the puffing up it was doing could be attributed to my approach:

Indeed, it was sufficiently indifferent to me that it set about cleaning itself:

At this point, I was close enough that my camera decided I needed to have some fill-in flash, so it activated the flash.

Here's a close up of the bird's head from this angle.

The bird was sufficiently comfortable in its tree that it let me walk around to the side to get this angle (where the sun was over my shoulder so the lighting was better):

Finally, here's a close up of the bird's head from this angle:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

South Jersey Visit (part 2)

We decided to visit the zoo at Cape May County Park. It's an excellent zoo. We were greeted though by a flock of black-headed sea gulls. This was a favorite perch:

It wasn't long before another bird staked a claim to it:

They were flying all over the area:

And they were fearless, to the point where some people were literally terrified of them. I, on the other hand, took advantage of their proximity to get this close up:

We went into the zoo. I'm not a big fan of taking pictures of caged birds, but how could I resist these shots:

This was a second eagle in the same cage:

This is a caracara:

And this, a snowy owl:

Yet another female house sparrow posed for me, this time in a more natural setting:

I was really pleased to see that there was a pair of wood ducks in one of the ponds. This is the female, first in the water and then on the land:

And here's her partner, similarly in the water and on the land:

Over by the bear cage, there were a number of crows who seemed to particularly like the bear's food. I was quite pleased with this shot:

We stopped at Smithville on the way home and there were a few birds there. This cormorant was the first to catch my eye:

There were more black-headed sea gulls:

This was the most surprising bird of the weekend. When I first saw it, I thought it was plastic it was so immobile:

There were young Canada Geese goslings who were a big hit with the young children:

Just as we were about to leave, I spotted this egret:

But, as I tried to get to a more advantageous angle, I spooked it and it flew off past the fountain: