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Field Trip Report
by Mike Fritz

"CONFUSING FALL BIRDERS" at HIGBEE BEACH WMA, NJ
Friday Sept 12, 2003

On the Morning of Sept. 12 10 participants and myself set out at Higbee Beach WMA to search for Fall migrants especially warblers. The 2 previous nights had NNE winds and moderate songbird flights, but the night before our trip the winds were from the ENE, just a few ticks around the compass, but enough to make a difference for the worse as far as migration at Higbee. We enjoyed some American Redstarts and Black and Whites around the parking lot while we waited for the whole group to arrive, then we set out along the field edges to search for more variety. We walked and walked and walked, but could not find much in the way of birds at all. We had lots of dragonflies and a variety of colorful grasshoppers and flyby Sharp-shinned Hawks, but few birds at all. Our highlight from the fields was a beautiful Green Snake, which was, captured Crocodile Hunter style to allow for great looks and photos of this rarely seen (at least by me) snake.

We tried hard to find a Connecticut Warbler along the fields because the time of year was right as were the conditions, but we struck out on that too. Another bird group told us they had a warbler flock near the parking lot with lots of birds, so we headed back there in desperation. Ahhh.. birds, and lots of them! We found a mixed flock and were able to follow it as long as we wished. The flock included many Redstarts in all plumages, lots of Black and whites, Parulas, Northern Waterthrush, Blue-winged, Cape may, Black-throated Blue, and the highlight was a Prothonotary Warbler, which is seasonally rare as they usually are done migrating by here by the end of August! We also saw Philadelphia Vireo, and Red-eyed Vireo, plus Gnatcatchers and lots of flyby Bobolinks and Cedar waxwings. All is well that ends well in life and birding.

Mike Fritz