Wednesday, June 3, 2009

May in Salem County

The May meeting of the Salem County Nature was a rousing success. Pat Sutton did a wonderful presentation on "How to build a Butterfly and Hummingbird Garden".

We changed our May walks to Finn's Point Cemetery next to Fort Mott. There were four of us on the Wednesday walk. We walked the Finn's Point nature trail. This trail takes you from meadow to woodland. We saw a number of different warblers including Yellow and Common Yellow-Throat, we also saw a Baltimore Oriole, Blue Gray Gnat Catcher, Towhees, Flicker, Cardinals, Catbirds, Indigo Buntings, Downy Woodpecker, Flicker, and Red Bellied Woodpecker.

The highlight of our walk was when Stephanie Gardner (a new birder) was trying to locate the fast moving Gnat Catcher and instead found a hummingbirds nest! That is some binocular work when you can see a nest that tiny! The babies had fledged but I suspect it will be used again as it looks like it has been rebuilt in the past. Hummingbirds often re-use the last year's nest.

There were six walkers on the Saturday walk. Some of them saw Scarlet Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, Blue Gray Gnat-catchers, Yellow and Common Yellow-throat warblers, little Blue Heron, Baltimore and Orchard Oriole males and females, Indigo Buntings, Towhees, Catbirds and a host of other birds. I got there early and saw two short eared owls as well a two Opossum. The opossum spotted me and one went on one side of the stone fence and another went on the other side of the fence. That is why in the picture he is standing up trying to get her scent. I also saw the Common Red Start in the pictures.

Judy Oshipp and I went to Supawna and found the Yellow-breasted Chat singing its heart out. One of their calls sounds like a duck quacking. The deer and wild rose are pictures I took on another trip to Supawna.

The photos of the shore birds are only a tiny snapshot of the number of migrants that used Fortescue as a resting and refueling stop. I was glad to see some Red Knots among their numbers. I watched as a female horseshoe crab tried to come ashore to lay her eggs but was stalked by about a hundred shore birds as she cruised along.

May is the month that all nature lovers wait for. Lots of birds are migrating through and those that just arrived are setting up their territories by singing their hearts out. Those of us trying to learn their songs are driving ourselves crazy sorting through the amazing symphony of bird song. The songfest will end in early June but then the birds will be nesting and feeding their young providing us with lots of opportunities to watch and photograph them.

You will notice the photo of the female Pileated Woodpecker. I found her on the Natural Lands Trust property behind my house. There was one Pileated reported on the Salem County Christmas Bird Count this year. They are normally not seen in Cumberland or Salem Counties. Judy Oshipp identified the call of one at Finn's Point Cemetary and also at Supawna just before I found the female here. I have since heard that one is visiting a suet feeder in Pennsville. Welcome to Salem County Pileated Woodpeckers. We hope you will make your home here.

Our members have been busy this month. Judy Oshipp, Ava Harvey and I participated in the filming of a commercial for Salem County. You will see us pointing and asking the ranger for advice on the birds we supposedly see. The County is promoting birding to encourage tourism and asked the nature club to help. They contacted me to have Salem County Nature Club members participate. I gave them a long list of names but many of you had other plans or were crafty enough to get out of it. I can't say it was fun but we roasted in the sun for a good cause.

Ava Harvey and I put in a Butterfly Garden on the side of the Salem Library. Alloway Township has approved our putting in a Butterfly Garden in front of the building where we meet. We will start work on that next week and are looking for volunteers to help us.

Steve Eisenhauer will be speaking at next week's meeting about The Burden Hill Forest. This unique woods is right here in Salem County. I hope to see you there.

Marilyn Patterson