2015 Bird Walk
Saturday, April 25 2015 Annual Sping Bird Walk
Starting bright and early at 630 am, the morning was clear, but chilly. There had been frost during the night, which probably accounted for a slightly lower attendance than last year. The walk was led, for the second year in a row, by Steve Sobocinski, a very knowledgeable and affable Burlington County resident who counts Taylor Wildlife Preserve as one of his favorite birding locations.
As is typical now, numerous Wild Turkeys had already been seen as folks drove down the gravel portion of Taylors Lane toward the houses and meeting point. There were also several deer grazing in the grassy area next to the NJ American Water Company pumping station.
The walk started out with 12 hardy participants gathered by the vegetable stand by the Taylors’ house. After checking the activity in the mature trees by the houses, including Blue Grey Gnatcatchers and Goldfinches, we proceeded down along the lane towards Wrights Cove, hoping for a perched Bald Eagle in the huge Tulip Poplar along the river berm. Instead, we saw not one but three immature Bald Eagles, separated by a minute or two from each other, slowly flying downriver over the River House and river bank. Were they siblings? We’ll never know, but it was sure unusual to see such an aerial parade!
Looking from Wrights Cove downriver towards the Philadelphia skyline, we clearly saw the occupied Osprey nest on the nearest navigational buoy, the second year in a row this has been a successful nesting site. Several times during the walk we observed soaring and hunting Osprey over the marsh, and one landed in a close by tree, affording a great view.
As expected, the beaver lodges and related damming work were quite visible from several perspectives around the Abby trail. Walking through the rental garden area revealed quite a bit of construction ingenuity, with sheds, chicken coops, water supply contraptions, and even solar panels evident. We decided to go out the side trail towards Dredge Harbor to check the Great Blue Heron rookery across from Amico Island, and were rewarded with clear views of Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets and Double-Crested Cormorants on their stick nests, as well as flying back and forth across the water.
Probably everyone would agree that the highlight of the trip was to be found in the white pine grove just down the gravel portion of Taylors Lane, below Winks Pond. We’d had sporadic reports of Great Horned Owl there in the past months, so we made a special effort to check it out, and were hugely rewarded for it. Just as we were entering the grove, we saw an adult GH Owl flushing from a tree, and then almost immediately noticed strange movement on the ground 50 yards or so further in. At first we couldn’t figure out what exactly it was, perhaps a large hawk mantling over it’s prey? It soon became clear that it was two more adult GH Owls tussling with each other, with one clearly in a superior position over the other, to the point that we were worried the loser wouldn’t survive. It’s not clear if we disturbed them or it ended naturally, but eventually the one on top flew off, and after a few minutes of looking dazed, so did the other one. As our leader Steve said, this was a first for him in over 35 years of birding. All in all it was a great trip, we heartily thank Steve for leading it again this year, and hope to see everyone next year, if not sooner.
In general order of appearance (observed or heard);
Swamp Sparrow, Starling, Green Heron, House Wren, Turkey, Blue Grey Gnatcatcher, Grackle, Goldfinch, Robin, Mallard, Caroline Wren, Song Sparrow, Red Winged Blackbird, Bald Eagle (3 imm, 1 mature), Canada Goose, Cardinal, Palm Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, White Throated Sparrow, Osprey, Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Carolina Chickadee, Red Tailed Hawk, Titmouse, Towhee, Cowbird, Great Blue Heron, Yellow Warbler, Yellow Throat, Black and White Warbler, House Finch, Chipping Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, Field Sparrow, Mourning Dove, House Sparrow, Junco, Mockingbird, Flicker, Great Horned Owl (3), White Eyed Vireo, Killdeer, Great Egret, Double Crested Cormorant (60+), Tree Swallow, Rough Winged Swallow, Ring-billed Gull, Fish Crow, American Crow, Wood Duck, Laughing Gull, Ruby Crowned Kinglet.