Saturday, February 28, 2009

Barnegat Bird Names

Harlequin Ducks
Originally uploaded by ammodramus88
A trip out the jetty at Barnegat last weekend provides an excuse to list some historic game bird names from Barnegat gunners (via Trumbull's Names and Portraits of Birds...

Big Yellow-leg - Greater Yellowlegs
Black-breast Plover - Black-bellied Plover
Blaten Duck - Gadwall
Brant-snipe - Dunlin
Broad-bill - Greater Scaup
Brown-back - Short-billed Dowitcher
Checkered-snipe - Ruddy Turnstone
Cock-robin - Hooded Merganser
Cock-robin Duck - Hooded Merganser
Crow-duck - American Coot
Cub-head - Common Goldeneye
Dowitch - Short-billed Dowitcher
Field Plover - Upland Sandpiper
Fresh-water Broad-bill - Lesser Scaup
Fresh-water Sheldrake - Common Merganser
Gray Plover - Black-belled Plover
Krieker - Pectoral Sandpiper
Large Yellow-leg - Greater Yellowlegs
Little Yellow-leg - Lesser Yellowlegs
Marlin - Marbled Godwit
Mud-hen - Clapper Rail
Ring-tailed Marlin - Hudsonian Godwit
Robin-snipe - Red Knot
Salt-water Sheldrake - Red-breasted Merganser
Sleepy Broad-bill - Ruddy Duck
Small Curlew - Whimbrel
Small Yellow-leg - Lesser Yellowlegs
Spoon-bill - Northern Shoveller
Sprig-tail - Northern Pintail
Telltale - Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs

The birds that illustrate this post, Harlequin Ducks, are generally expected by birders visiting Barnegat today, but according to Trumbull in the day, did not get much south of Salem, Massachusetts. In their accepted range, they were usually known as "lord and lady."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bridled Tern

On this day in 1951, Evelyn and Quintin Kramer found a carcass of a long-dead Bridled Tern at Island Beach State Park in Ocean County. Subsequent records of the species have been associated with hurricanes and tropical storms, when it is almost expected (if not quite as common as Sooty Tern in these circumstances).

The obituary of Quintin Kramer that appeared in Cassinia contains the following: "During World War II, Quintin and Evelyn did most of their birding by public transportation and shank's mare. They walked the Jersey beaches for miles and found numerous dead birds, including an occasional rare species" (Peniston 1976). Presumably, this tern was carried north with a tropical storm during the summer of 1950. Unisys shows 13 storms for that season; the likeliest candidates to drop a tropical tern in NJ would seem to be Able and Dog (but I'm open to contrary opinions from those who have studied the intersection of hurricanes and birds in more detail than I have). In any case, the Kramers came along after the fact, and the specimen in question now resides at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

Peniston, Howell. 1976. Quintin Kramer 1908-1975. Cassinia 56: 6. PDF here

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bohemian Waxwing

On this day in 1962, a Bohemian Waxwing was found in Princeton, Mercer County. The bird stayed until the 9th and was seen by many; NJ's second and third records followed quickly, with another bird at Riverton in Burlington County on 17 March, and one at Flemington Junction in Hunterdon County 10-22 April.

As one might surmise from this cluster of records, the winter of 1961-1962 was a good one for Bohemian Waxwings. Like many winter irruptive species, the best cue to look out for them in NJ is their presence in nearby states. They sometimes appear in small numbers along the coast in a flight year (Sandy Hook and Island Beach are good places to check), but they can turn up anywhere.

A somewhat amusing footnote to the first state record is that the sighting was written up in the New York Times by an unnamed author. This brief note is worth seeking out if you want a lay person's view of birding in the early 1960s. The waxwing is referred to as "jaunty and resplendent," and the roll call of other winter irruptives reported in that season included, "Red-breasted nuthatches, redpolls, browncapped (or arboreal) chickadees and pine grosbeaks" (Anon. 1962). Even making allowances for the arboreal chickadees, it sounds like the winter of 1961-1962 was not a bad time to be a birder.

Anonymous. 1962. Bohemian Waxwing Is Spotted in Jersey in Rare Appearance. New York Times February 27, 1962, p. 35.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Mothy Monday 1: Large Tolype

Large Tolype
Originally uploaded by ammodramus88
Go figure; I'm going to try to get myself back in the groove of posting to my birding blog by writing a moth post.

I first saw a Large Tolype at a rest stop not far from Sturbridge, Massachusetts. My cohorts and I were chasing (unsuccessfully) the Western Reef-Heron that was being reported from New Hampshire. I had just gotten my digital camera and had already had my interest piqued by moths, so I couldn't resist taking some photos of the moths on the side of a fast-food restaurant. It's a good thing that the manager (who came out to see what the heck we were up to) didn't call local law enforcement.

Then, a few days after I came home, I found a Tolype outside my door. That's the one you see here.

Tolypes are part of the Lasiocampidae, or Tent Caterpillar and Lappet Moths.