Sunday, January 21, 2007

Last Word on the Murrelet?

I thought about taking a photo like this today at Sandy Hook, but I was too busy trying to keep my hands warm while on the beach. Dana Beaton gets the credit. Despite the many eyes, there were no murrelet reports today.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Murrelet Linkages

The Long-billed Murrelet was refound at Sandy Hook today, much to the relief of many birders. Although I prefer not to attempt blow-by-blow accounts of current rarities (NJBirds and JerseyBirds do a far better job than I can), I did think it would be worthwhile to compile some murrelet links, particularly since this is such a notable bird for NJ.

Photos of Sandy Hook's latest celebrity bird by:

Sam Galick one, two, three
Jim Gilbert photos

Reference material:

Long-billed Murrelet in Ithaca, NY.

Long-billed Murrelet in Seneca County, OH.

The Long-billed Murrelet that made it all the way to Dawlish in Devon, UK. This feature on Surfbirds has lots of photos and useful links. Other photos by Dave Appleton and Jonathan Wasse.

Long-billed Murrelet id (with particular reference to head pattern) at The Bird Guide.

Long-billed Murrelet account at Ocean Wanderers.

Brief Bibliography:

In the hot-off-the-press department, the December 2006 issue of Birding World contains an account of the Dawlish Long-billed Murrelet, its initial misidentification and the subsequent twitch set off when it was correctly identified. There are great photos as well, of course. Thanks to Gail Mackiernan for the tip.

Friesen, V. L., J. F. Piatt, & A. J. Baker. 1996. Evidence From Cytochrome B Sequences and Allozymes for a 'New' Species of Alcid: The Long-billed Murrelet (Brachyramphus perdix). Condor 98:681-690. PDF here
Maumary, Lionel, & Peter Knaus. 2000. Marbled Murrelet in Switzerland: A Pacific Ocean Auk New to the Western Palearctic. British Birds 93:190-199.
Mlodinow, Steven G. 1997. The Long-billed Murrelet (Brachyramphus perdix) in North America. Birding 29:461-475.
Sealy, Spencer G., Harry R. Carter, W. David Shuford, Kevin D. Powers, & Charles A. Chase III. 1991. Long-distance Vagrancy of the Asiatic Marbled Murrelet in North America, 1979-1989. Western Birds 22:145-156. PDF here
Sibley, David. 1993. An Asiatic Marbled Murrelet in Ontario. Birders Journal 2:276-277.
Thompson, Christopher W., Kevin J. Pullen, Richard E. Johnson, & Eric B. Cummins. 2003. Specimen Record of a Long-billed Murrelet From Eastern Washington, With Notes on Plumage and Morphometric Differences Between Long-billed and Marbled Murrelets. Western Birds 34:157-168. PDF here

This post may be updated in the future with more links, especially if more photos of the Sandy Hook bird are posted.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Day to Remember

Today will probably go down in the annals of great Jersey birding stories. First it was a Black Guillemot at Sandy Hook; this would've gotten more respect except for the long-staying (in guillemot terms) bird at Barnegat last winter. Then it morphed into a Pigeon Guillemot; this would be an East Coast mega. Finally the word settled on Long-billed Murrelet, a first state record (obligatory disclaimer: if accepted).

Harvey Tomlinson's post on JerseyBirds provides a good discussion of birding "in the heat of battle," when an identification can be more fluid than one would expect. Harvey analyzes which species names were in play and why.

This is on top of a Band-tailed Pigeon (it would be the second state record if accepted) that has outstayed the first state bird by two days now. It (briefly) reduced the list of NJ rarities not seen in Cape May County, but now the murrelet has redressed that balance.

Then there are the continuing Hunterdon County Ash-throated Flycatcher and Western Tanager. If you want a write-up bird, there are plenty to choose from.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

In the Mailbox

This week, the latest issues of New Jersey Birds (NJB) and North American Birds (NAB) arrived. NJB is published by the NJ Audubon Society. It's a benefit of membership, but you have to request it, so pay attention to your renewal form if you would like to subscribe to the print version. There are also plans to post issues on the web going forward.

NJB's fall issue, as always, contains the Annual Report of the NJ Bird Records Committee (NJBRC). The 2006 Annual Report covers records from 2005 and a few that edge over into the beginning of 2006 (not to mention a Franklin's Gull record from 1993). Disclaimer: yours truly is one of the six co-authors on this year's Annual Report. In addition to the Annual Report, the current issue of NJB contains articles on NJ's first state records of Green Violet-Ear and Brown-headed Nuthatch, plus field notes and photos from the spring 2006 season.

NAB is now published by the American Birding Association; it has had a long history under a number of titles and was originally published by the National Audubon Society. When I started subscribing to it, it was American Birds. The current issue also covers the spring 2006 season. One of the highlights of the season was the White-tailed Hawk at Great Swamp NWR; it receives its own SA sidebar in the Hudson-Delaware column (Veit & Paxton 2006) and the photos appear in the Pictorial Highlights section. The main articles are all extralimitals, as far as Jersey birders are concerned: Streaked Shearwater and Lesser Frigatebird in Wyoming, Kirtland's Warbler in Cuba and Striated Heron in the Greater Antilles.

Veit, Richard R., & Robert O. Paxton. 2006. Spring Migration, Hudson-Delaware Region. North American Birds 60:353-357.