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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Tony Croasdale

May 19, 2013 (Sunday)
Southwest New Jersey

21 members and non-members assembled at the Birder Wawa on a rainy morning in later May. I had to wait for one last car load to arrive, so I sent the group on to Belleolain while I waited. This car contained my friend and three junior docents from Cobbs Creek Environmental Center, a program that I coordinate. When we arrived at Belleplain the group had already heard Hooded, Prothonotary, and Yellow-throated Warblers.

Heard would be the word of the morning as the weather and dense foliage kept sightings to a minimum. We did observe 16 species of warbler including Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky, and Blue-winged. We did actually get to see Worm-eating, Yellow-throated, and Pine warblers along with Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Acadian Flycatcher, and Summer Tanager.

Next we headed to Fortescue where the shorebird spectacle gave our eyes a well earned feast. Thousands of Red Knots were in full breeding finery accompanied by Short-billed Dowitcher, Sanderling, Turnstones, Willet, Black-bellied Plover, Semi and Least Sandpipers. Tom Magarian of NJ Audubon joined us and gave the docents the run down on the Red Knot/ Horseshoe Crab saga as well as information on his work on Semipalmated Sandpipers that includes field work in Brazil and Suriname.

After Fortescue we headed to Wawa for lunch with a quick stop in Bevans WMA. This stop produced three pairs of Prothonotary Warbler, with stunning views of a male on stump sticking out of the water. Here we had the best sighting of the day, a coyote! The coyote was walking down the railroad tracks towards us, stopping about hundred yards away. It even appeared again as we left.

After lunch the group finished the day at Heislerville WMA. The shorebird numbers were truly absurd. Tens of thousands of shorebirds poured into the impoundments as the tide rose in the surrounding marsh. We picked up some shorebirds like Semipalmated Plover and Yellowlegs that we didn't have along the bay, as well as Black Skimmer, Forester's Tern, and Northern Harrier. The real stars of the show was the sheer number of birds and the breeding colony of Double-crested Cormorants, Black-crowned Night Herons and egrets. We finished the day with 86 species.