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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Cindy Ahern

May 16, 2015
Tannersville Cranberry Bog, PA

A small group started the morning in typical birding fashion, birding in the parking lot! The parking lot and trailhead area is planted with wildflowers and shrubs, surrounded by mixed woodland and roadside. We were greeted by Indigo Buntings nesting here, along with Chipping Sparrow, singing Wood Thrush and Red-eyed Vireos from the woodland. The expected species were encountered as we headed down the trail passing an old homestead foundation with vegetation comprised of mostly shrubs and wildflowers, heavy on the invasive species. In this area, Gray Catbird, Song Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat are dominant species, while Great Crested Flycatcher, and Scarlet Tanager sang from the edge of the forest high up in the trees.

As the trail turned away from the road, the plant community transitioned to a Hemlock-Rhododendron dominant forest, and a Black-throated Green Warbler sang from a thicket. We also caught a glimpse of a possible Magnolia Warbler, a species frequently encountered at this location. We explored my usual spot for salamanders, but fell short, probably due to the dry spring. The short ascending trail leading to the bog was busy with Black-and-White Warbler, Downy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees, and many Blue-gray Gnatcatchers flitting about feeding young, as the ethereal song of the Veery filled the forest, followed by a quick cameo appearance.

As we neared the bog, Canada Warbler was singing from back in the thicket, never to show himself. We agreed to try again on the way out, and moved along into the sphagnum bog. Northern Waterthrush was singing in the bog, later joined by Nashville Warbler, singing in his “usual” spot. We enjoyed the rare and unusual plants as we continued toward the observation platform overlooking Cranberry Creek, serenaded by a Magnolia Warbler in the thicket, teasing us with a split-second peek. This bird was in the same area where he was observed in previous years.
The observation platform held the highlight of the day – a Black-billed Cuckoo just above eye level perched in a red maple across the creek. Everyone enjoyed a nice look before the bird flew off. Unfortunately, my right-hand man and picture-taker was home flat on his back, and my camera skills aren’t what you would call skills. By the time I was able to find the bird in the lens, it was gone, gone, gone! Other birds in the vegetation along the creek included numerous Yellow Warblers, Swamp Sparrow, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Kingbird, and Eastern Phoebe. The cool, cloudy weather left us turtle-less (and snake-less, too), and also made for a lack of leps and odes.

A Purple Finch sat atop a snag a distance away as we turned back and headed for the “eye” of the bog, the area with the lowest pH on the site. In this area, the vegetation shakes when jumping on the boardwalk – a great example of a “quaking” bog. Nashville Warbler nests in this section, and offered a very quick look as he checked us out.

Continuing back toward the woodland trail, the Canada Warbler sang from the thicket at the bog’s edge, but refused to show. This was the first time Canada was a “heard only” bird on this trip. Even without seeing the Canada Warbler, this property is well worth visiting for the unique habitat and other surprises it offers visitors. The upland trail offered a consolation prize with a Wood Frog who moved ever so slightly to allow us to spot it camouflaged in the leaf litter on the forest floor. Photos from this trip may be viewed on my Flickr page, although most of the photos are of plants – they are easy targets! https://www.flickr.com/photos/songbirdpa/sets/72157634163655885
List of bird species observed/heard:

Mourning Dove 3
Black-billed Cuckoo 1 in the Acer rubrum opposite the viewing platform along Cranberry Creek. Seen by all.
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Great Crested Flycatcher 3
Eastern Kingbird 1
Yellow-throated Vireo 1 heard same place as last year, from the trees along Bog Rd. by Cranbery Creek.
Red-eyed Vireo 5
Blue Jay 5
American Crow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Tufted Titmouse 5
Brown Creeper 1 heard near the trail entrance along Bog Rd. just past Cranberry Creek, same place as last year.
Carolina Wren 1
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 4
Veery 3
Gray Catbird 8
Ovenbird 3
Northern Waterthrush 2
Black-and-white Warbler 3
Nashville Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 5
Magnolia Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 2
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Canada Warbler 1
Eastern Towhee 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Swamp Sparrow 1
Scarlet Tanager 2
Northern Cardinal 1
Indigo Bunting 2
Common Grackle 1
Baltimore Oriole 1
Purple Finch 1
American Goldfinch 2