Summer With NJ Audubon’s Young Birders Club

Photo: (Left to Right) Silas Hernandez, Andrew Marden, Etan Zeller, and Victoria Sindlinger by Barbara Bassett

The New Jersey Young Birders Club had four field trips this summer including Old Mine Rd in the Delaware Water Gap, an “unofficial pelagic,” Forsythe NWR, and DeKorte Environment Center in the NJ Meadowlands. One of our young birders offered his perspective on the two-day “Super Pelagic” that plied submarine canyons and waters beyond the continental shelf off the jersey coast, and another wrote up her thoughts on a four-hour exploration of a vital urban oasis of wetlands and tidal impoundments in the NJ Meadowlands.

NJ Audubon and See Life Paulagics are currently working on a “young birders” 8-hour pelagic from Point Pleasant this January for interesting gulls, alcids, and other birds. Stay tuned!

More information about the NJYBC including our schedule of upcoming events on the NJ Audubon’s Young Birders Club page.

By Scott Barnes

White-faced Storm Petrel - Linda Mack
Loggerhead Sea Turtle by Linda Mack

Mega-Pelagic from Point Pleasant Beach August 17-18, 2019

I’ve been birding up and down New Jersey for some time now, but it had all been on solid ground, so when the opportunity arose to be piled onto a boat with See Life Paulagics and sent a hundred miles offshore for 32 hours, how could I say no? I had only heard stories of White-faced Storm-petrels and Long-tailed Jaegers, but now I had the opportunity to see birds exclusive to the open ocean.

After finding our bunks and settling ourselves on the boat, we set sail, losing sight of shore within an hour. While the bird life didn’t pick up right away, we were greeted by inshore bottlenose dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles, and a mola mola (ocean sunfish), which Paul described as “a fish that is only a head.” Shortly after, we spotted Great, Cory’s, and Audubon’s shearwaters, as well as swaths of Wilson’s Storm-petrels. The trip had officially begun.

Throughout the morning there had been mentions of the record 13 White-Faced Storm-petrels seen on the Cape May pelagic, but many refused to call the bird by name, worried that a jinx would hinder our chances of seeing one. But soon enough, “White-faced, two o’clock,” was heard and I could feel the boat tilt as everyone ran to the starboard side. Sure enough, the bird was hopping on the water, just as it had been described to me so many times before. It almost didn’t seem real that a bird of that size had hopped all the way from Africa to feed off the coast of New Jersey. We followed the nicknamed “sea kangaroo” for 15 minutes before it cut back and flew off, followed shortly by high fives and Paul standing at the bow of the boat, yelling in gladiator-like fashion, “are you not entertained!?”

Our trip was followed by several other species, including Black-capped Petrel and three other White-faced Storm-petrels, as well as looks at flying fish, fin whales, and striped dolphins. While we all came to see birds, there is something special about being on a boat with 44 other people who all love birds as much as I do. Coming from a school where I am the one birder out of 2,000, hearing stories about rarities is something I don’t get everyday. I hope to be on another pelagic soon, but I doubt it will be as good as this one!

Paul Guris, pelagic trip organizer responded: “All I can say is, ‘Challenge accepted!’ 😊”

By Etan Zeller

Victoria & Paul discussing storm-petrel ID by Scott Barnes

NJYBC Field Trip Report: Richard DeKorte Park September 8, 2019

On September 8th I went on an awesome NJ Young Birders Club trip to Richard Dekorte Park in Bergen County, NJ. Right when I got out of the car I could hear American Goldfinches calling everywhere! We started at the Saw Mill Creek mudflats area in hopes of finding the American White Pelican that’s been seen on and off since July. Sure enough, when we picked up our bins and looked far out, we could see it sitting with some Double-crested Cormorants! After watching the distant pelican, we moved on. We shortly came up to some cedars where we found a Common Yellowthroat and a Pine Warbler. Suddenly, we saw a bird that looked different. At first, I thought it was a Warbling Vireo, but it wasn’t! It was brighter yellow with a darker eye line and cap which meant it was a Philadelphia Vireo! A new lifer for me! We spent some time following the vireo and then went back to the parking lot for scopes. We were just about to do some more birding when we spotted a Least Bittern sitting right out in the open! Almost as soon as we all got a look at it, it crawled back into the reeds. It was still really exciting! Next, we went down the boardwalks. It didn’t take long to find another exciting bird: a Common Gallinule! We also wound up seeing the American White Pelican again, a few shorebirds, a flock of Bobolinks fly over, and to end the trip, a nice juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron! This was an awesome trip to kick off the 2019 NJ Young Birders Club Fall birding season!

Thanks for reading!

By Emma Price

Special Thanks to Young Birders Club Sponsors

Carl Zeiss SBE, LLC., Inc.

The Stone Foundation
New Jersey