Saturday evening(10/1/2016) I had the opportunity to do some local birding. I explored the the small overgrown grassland adjacent to Downstown/Vineland Airport, which is the border of Gloucester and Atlantic County. I watched 4 American Kestrels hover-hunting the airfield and chasing each other around. I believe this is the most reliable spot in the county to find Kestrels, more times than not, there are multiple Kestrels here from October through March.
The breeding Red-tailed Hawks that nest in the adjoining woodland seemed to have successfully bred this year, an immature bird came from that area and looped around the fields before returning.
The grassland hosted about 20 Field Sparrows, 6 Savannah and a handful of Song Sparrows. The highlight came in the form of a Bobolink that perched on a goldenrod and allowed extended scope views.
The grassland here is very visitor friendly and supports sometimes hundreds of sparrows in October. I don’t think it’s on anyone’s radar though. It is on the east side of the airport with a freshly paved, drivable loop accessible directly from rt.40. There were half a dozen White-crowned Sparrows last November, it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area. I record Horned Larks there on most visits.
Piney Hollow Natural Area is only about 5 minutes away so I wandered around the trails for a little while and came across 2 migrant flock. Lighting was terrible and the birds were moving quickly so I had trouble identifying most of the birds but I did manage to pick out Black-throated Blue, Magnolias, Bay-breasted and a Pine Warbler in the flocks. Also a handful of Ruby-crowned Kinglets and a Scarlet Tanager. Another highlight of the trip was a Peregrine Falcon, a difficult bird to find in the area. The trails here are abnormally dry and I recently resupplied trail maps to the box at the parking area on Piney Hollow Rd. This area is also gets very little coverage and can host birds not often seen in the county.
For more information about these locations, feel free to email me.
Yard birding has been slow. We had Connecticut Warbler the last 2 years but haven’t been able to spot one this year. We did tally close to 20 nighthawks in the first 2 weeks of September. Sparrow season is usually an exciting time here so hopefully this dreadful weather pattern changes soon.
(All photos obtained from Google image search)