Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bohemian Waxwing - Check

This is a Bohemian Waxwing. A bird not usually found in our part of the world. And one I'd not seen before today, and not for lack of trying.

This is a Cedar Waxwing.

A not uncommon bird around these parts. Note the plumage differences* (you may need to bigafy the images to do so). In winter waxwings travel in flocks. Sometimes rather large flocks. And two years ago in a very large flock, several hundred birds on the Sandy Hook unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

* Some of the differences are:
- The bohemian has a grey belly while the cedar's is yellow.
- The under tail color of the bohemian is rufus while the cedar is white.
- The cedar has a white line on the forehead which is absent on the bohemian.
- The bohemian has a larger black "beard".

And in that very large flock was a Bohemian Waxwing. Or so I'm told. Despite looking at bird after bird I never found the visitor from the north.

Today was different (as the photos attest).

We left the house at around 7:00 AM, and arrived at the Hook around 8:30. The NJ Audubon Society had a field trip on the hook and we ran into them at Lot B, which has a heated (barely) restroom, and is thus a common meeting spot. We learned from them that the place to be was the Boy Scout Camp. So off we went.

Surprisingly, there were still parking spots at the small campground lot. Not surprisingly there were waxwings in the trees around the lot. All cedar (birds not trees). But then we noticed a group of birders down the trail waving us to come on down. They had the bird. And soon so did we.

The bird was sitting in the tree, enjoying the berries (if you look closely, again bigafying, you see several  berries in the branch directly in front of the bird disappear between the first and last images - yummy!).


After the Bohemian had flown off, spooked no doubt by a couple of photographers tramping through the woods (giving us all a bad name) we chatted with the small crowd of birders. And we learned of this bird. A Vesper Sparrow.

Another "nemesis bird" of mine. I had heard one once. But had been unable to locate it. And a friend and I went to the Burlington County Fairgrounds a few years ago to follow up on a report one there. The area is closed to the general population and we needed special permission to be there. No luck that day either (we did have nine dickcissel, a very nice consolation prize).

But today my luck changed. Two in one morning. Not bad. Not bad at all.

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