Birdline & Natureline for June 6, 2012:
Here's a summary of interesting items lately relating to mostly
birds, and to some other nature:
Off the coast of California, there's been, this year, a
NORTHERN GANNET. Yes, on the Pacific Ocean, it was first found on April
25 at the offshore Farallon Islands, 30 miles off San
Francisco. It continued to be seen at times until July 8.
And then, this month, it was found again on August 3.
That NORTHERN GANNET was a first for California, and actually a first
for the entire Pacific Ocean!
NORTHERN GANNETS are only in the Atlantic Ocean, with breeding
colonies on both sides of the North Atlantic.
Maybe the California bird came across the now open water of the
Northwest Passage. Last summer, 2 NORTHERN GANNETS were reported in the
Arctic Ocean north of Alaska.
When the California GANNET was found in April, it was observed carefully
to be sure it was not a MASKED or a NAZCA BOOBY, or a RED-FOOTED
BOOBY, birds that occur in the Pacific.
There are globally 3 species of GANNETS. The CAPE GANNET occurs around
southern Africa, and the AUSTRALASIAN GANNET is found in temperate seas
around southern Australia and New Zealand. The AUSTRALASIAN GANNET is a
bird of the Pacific. It has dark secondaries and black on the tail.
The California GANNET had neither, with instead the fieldmarks of
the NORTHERN GANNET of the North Atlantic.
Also seen offshore from California on August 3 were over 55 LEACH'S
STORM-PETRELS, a record number for seas in that area.
Thousands of FORK-TAILED STORM-PETRELS have been said, earlier this
month, to be at the Cordell Bank off California.
Offshore from Half Moon Bay, California, on August 12, was a
YELLOW-BILLED LOON, a rarity there with only 3 during the last 15 yers
Also there that day were 2 LAYSAN ALBATROSSES, a sizeable group fo
BLACK-FOOTED ALBATROSSES, and a SOUTH POLAR SKUA.
At the Continental Shelf
near the Farallon Islands on August 3, there were about 45 HUMPBACK
WHALES and at least 5 BLUE WHALES.
Shifting from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, a RED-BILLED TROPICBIRD
has been in Maine again this summer, at Seal
island, with 2012 being the 8th year in a row for that bird
A subadult BROWN BOOBY was photographed on a research vessel 50 miles
southwest of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts for 3
days, starting July 26.
Inland, from July 27 to 31, an adult female BROWN BOOBY was at a lake in
hilly northwestern New Jersey. It was an odd place
for a booby, at White Lake in Warren County, where it was often
seen sitting on a dock.
In Georgia, also unusual there, a juvenile BROWN BOOBY
was at the north end of Jekyll Island on August 3. Probably that same
bird was also noted there on July 11.
Going back to Maine for a moment, a LITTLE EGRET was found
there on August 8 at the Scarborough Marsh. It was only the second
LITTLE EGRET for Maine, but it was only seen that day.
The LITTLE EGRET is mostly an Old World species, but some have been nesting
on this side of the Atlantic on the Caribbean island of Barbados.
The TOWNSEND'S WARBLER is mostly a bird of western North America. But
one was said to be in New Jersey, this past week, at
the Forsythe (more often known as the Brigantine) National Wildlife
Refuge, on August 13.
Either a first fall male or an adult female, it was in a small forest
edge with a mixed flock of other migrating warblers
(Black-and-white, Blue-winged, Chestnut-sided, and American Redstart)
and Scarlet Tanagers. But, soon, they all were gone.
Most TOWNSEND WARBLER ocurrances in eastern North America have been in
the late fall and early winter.
A place called Chatham on Cape Cod, Massachusetts
has been a good place for GODWITS.
A BAR-TAILED GODWIT has been there through the summer, and this
past week, also at Chatham there have been 47 HUDSONIAN GODWITS and 2
MARBLED GODWITS, making 3 different species for that locale.
A fourth species of GODWIT in eastern North America was found on
July 20 in Delaware when a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was
found near Prime Hook. It was seen the next day, and by some early
the following morning, but not again.
Since then, further south on the Delmarva Peninsula, a BLACK-TAILED
GODWIT was at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia,
on August 11 & 12, seen by a few.
A "good bird" for northern New York State lately has
been a SANDWICH TERN in Oswego County, near Lake Ontario. That species
is normally along the seacoast further south in the US.
Also "good" recently in upstate New York were 2 BLACK-BELLIED
WHISTLING DUCKS, on July 22, near Clayton in Jefferson County.
A BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCK has been present for a while in Massachusetts,
at the Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge in Concord.
Another BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCK has continued in New Jersey
at the forementioned Forsythe (or Brigantine) Wildlife Refuge. Two were
there a couple weeks ago.
Each summer, during recent years, a few BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING
DUCKS have flying north to places such as New York, New Jersey, and
And Pennsylvania too. But here's a recent BLACK-BELLIED
WHISTLING DUCK occurrence there with a different twist:
Recently, 2 BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS were observed at the
Middle Creek Wildlife Area in south-central Pennsylvania. However, it
has been determined that they escaped from a captive waterfowl
collection in Newmanstown, Pennsylvania, not that far away. In
fact, those 2 birds were noted to fly back & forth between
Middle Creek & Newmanstown.
Groups of RED CROSSBILLS have been observed lately in both the
northeastern and the southeastern parts of the United States.
In the Northeast, about 25 RED CROSSBILLS have been noted in western Massachusetts
by the Quabbin Reservoir.
In the Southeast, 5 to 10 RED CROSSBILLS have been seen in
Georgia, by Lake Conasauga in Murray County.
Apparently, a notable nester this summer in Georgia has been the
GRAY KINGBIRD. An adult and a juvenile were seen on Tybee Island on
August 9. Two adults were seen there on August 7.
This is the time of year when PURPLE MARTINS gather into groups, as they
are about to fly south to where they "winter" in Brazil.
In Richmond, Virginia, recently, there has been a
PURPLE MARTIN congregation of an estimated 16,000 birds swirling in the
air, and diving at high speeds into pear trees near a farmer's
market. Another estimate, on Aug 7, was of 19,500 birds.
A good area for congregating PURPLE MARTINS in southern New
Jersey has been in Cumberland County, in and near Mauricetown.
And now some recent bird news from outside North America:
This Birdline began by noting an Atlantic bird in the Pacific, a
NORTHERN GANNET. Conversely, in the Madeira Islands
in the North Atlantic Ocean, there was a PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER from
July 1 to 3. It was the 2nd record for that species on those islands.
In Denmark, the first GRIFFON VULTURE noted in that
country in 26 years was seen in flight near the German
border on July 14. It's not that such a bird could easily escape
detection for a quarter of a century. It has a wingspan of 9 feet, 2
In Iceland, on the offshore island of Grimsey, a
BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER appeared on July 24.
In South America, you may or may not know that a
newly-discovered bird species has been described. A new bird in the 21st
Century. There are not too many species in that category. The new bird
is the SIRA BARBET in Peru, discovered during a
expedition of Cornell University undergraduates.
And a couple non-bird items:
A new butterfly for the state of Maryland has
been found there, the DAINTY SULPHUR. It was photographed in Montgomery
County MD on August 3, after having been first noticed in the
area on July 29. On August 3, six were seen.
The DAINTY SULPHUR occurs normally in the central and western US. It is
believed to have colonized Florida, where it is now common, during the
early 1900s from the Caribbean.
A sighting on Long Island, New York, in October 2000 was thought to be a
straggler from further west in North America.
In southern New Jersey, a butterfly known as the
CHECKERED WHITE has been observed in Salem County, with the first
reported sightings in that state in 5 years, since 2008.
On August 3, about 120 CHECKERED WHITES were found at 5 different
The CHECKERED WHITE ranges in the southern United States and northern
Mexico. But it has been known on occasion to colonize and establish
temporary populations further north in the US and as far north as
extreme southern Canada.
If you haven't visited the FONT (Focus On Nature Tours) website
you may wish to see the various
lists & photo galleries of birds, butterflies, and other nature.
A number of updates have recently been made, and continue to be.
And you may wish to see about recent and upcoming FONT
birding & nature tours at various interesting places throughout
the Americas, and elsewhere.
If you're interested in going to Brazil, where
HARPY EAGLES have been at a nest, and where recent JAGUAR sightings
have been frequent, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
We'll also go to the
spectacular Iguazu Falls where the birding is
outstanding and butterflying about the best anywhere.
The Birdline (and the Natureline) are
affiliates of Focus On Nature tours.
Armas Hill has presented the Birdline, originally from Philadelphia, on
the phone and internet for decades (3), and on the radio in Delaware for
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