May is quickly coming to a close. For me, May is one of the most hectic months of the year – I’m busy, very busy – but the birding is even busier. Although this spring got off to a very slow start, things picked up, and I managed to get a decent amount of birding done. The best part of the month was definitely the WSB, which I participated in for my 3rd year, with the NYSYBC. I was on the vagrants, the middle school team, and we only birded Cape May County – less species, but a lot more actual birding. The big day was – interesting, to say the least. There was a torrential downpour all day, at times so heavy my team got split up. We also had a few technical difficulties, but we managed to pull through with 126 species. Compared to 129 last year, I feel this is actually very good, regarding the conditions. Some highlights included – Pine Siskin, Swainson’s Thrush, Eastern-screech Owl, Prothonotary Warbler, Red Knot, White-crowned Sparrow, and Yellow-throated Warbler. Even better, I finally picked up two needed lifers – Summer Tanager and Yellow-breasted Chat. The Tanager was a gorgeous male right out in the open at Belleplain State Forest, and the Chat we managed to pull out of the dense thickets at Higbee Beach WMA. I also picked up my life Eastern Fence Lizard, which just reaches it’s northern range limit in south jersey.
The next day started off with a bang. After the wrap-up brunch, most of the present birders raced off to the State Park, where a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher had just been found. Everyone got too see the bird within minutes. It was an amazing vagrant and an amazing bird, and I was thrilled. Unfortunately the bird was a little too far off for pictures with my camera, but through the scope the looks were great.
After that unexpected treat, we started to head back north to CT, but not before we made our annual stop at Brigantine (Edwin B. Forsythe NWR) for the day. Highlights here included Caspian Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black Skimmer, and Bank Swallow. We also found a tiny Diamondback Terrapin crossing the road. As usual, the refuge was full of birds, although strong winds made the birding a little uncomfortable.
However, most of May was spent birding locally – very locally. Because weekends are so busy for me, I found myself birding before school mornings on certain days. The small park by my house is not great for migrants, but it gets a few, and I’ve confirmed Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird all breed there, among a slew of others.
One particularly fun outing (not for birds, but I did pick up my FOY Blue-winged Warbler) was to Pound Ridge Reservation in NY, on a herping trip with some friends. We were there only a few hours, but managed to pick up 15 species of herp (Northern Water Snake, Eastern Garter Snake, Eastern Painted Turtle, Spotted Turtle, Yellow-spotted Salamander, Red-backed Salamander, Red-spotted Newt, Bullforg, Green Frog, Pickerel Frog, Wood Frog and American Toad.) The Spotted Turtle was a lifer, and our target species at the reservation.
Now that migration is pretty much over, It’s time to start seeking out hard to find breeders in CT. I have a few fun trips planned for this month, which I will post about after.
Til than, good birding!