Saturday, May 29, 2010


As this World Series of Birding event ends, the Nikon/DVOC Lagerhead Shrikes would like to extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks to:

- All DVOC members who we are honored to represent.

- Nikon Sport Optics whose continual sponsorship is greatly appreciated.

- Our family members who allow us to enjoy this event.

- Anita Guris and Jeanne Fritz for their logistical support.

- The DVOC members who we called upon for scouting help as the event drew close (Jeff, Bob, Charles, Connie, Karl, etc.)

- The Cornell eBird team who helped refine the gathering and sharing of scouting information.

- The staff of CMBO and NJ Audubon for their work in making this event happen

- All fellow World Series of Birding competitors.

- All people who supported, or will support, the 2010 DVOC Conservation Cause.



And now it is time to put 2010 behind us and start getting ready for 2011!


Paul Guris (Captain), Zack Baer, Bert Filemyr and Mike Fritz - the 2010 Nikon DVOC Lagerhead Shrikes

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Scouting Strategy: Know EXACTLY Where the Birds Are

For some of the tougher birds, it pays to stake them out during scout week as specifically as possible. This year, one of my worries was that the Canada Warblers would stop singing. I went into the Black Spruce Bog of High Point and slowly worked my way along the edge. I only heard the birds sing twice, but I found the edge where it appeared that two territories met. By studying the birds for 15-20 minutes, I found that they could be easily found by their chips, and responded well to imitations.

Here's a snap I took of one of the birds coming in to investigate the other pair of Canadas.

Northern Goshawk on Sat, May 22

Yesterday, several of us went north again to enjoy the Delaware Water Gap, Stokes, and High Point. On the way back south, we had an adult Northern Goshawk fly across the road right in front of the car. What a beauty!

And if you're wondering, it was roughly 1/2 way between Watergate and Van Campen Glen.

Looking back

As I write this it was only 8 days ago that we were identifying species for the 2010 World Series of Birding. In many ways it seems so long ago but in other ways it seems so very fresh and recent. After months of planning and thought "scout week" and the event come and go so fast. There is no time to stop and reflect as the event unfolds. But the quickly occurring events of the day become memories that will last forever.

Here are twenty memories that I cherish:

1. Explaining to a sales girl in a Starbucks exactly why we needed all that coffee

2. Getting instructions to the High Point/Stokes area from a local police officer.

3. Being up on Vesper Hill without the sounds of distant generators, put having wind instead.

4. Coming upon a singing Lincoln's Sparrow during a dash in the woods for a Golden-winged Warbler

5. Crossing I80 heading south at 10:27 in the morning with 150 species

6. A quick, very quick stop at a Wawa in Millville for fuel and starting on our "southern route"

7. Mike have so many spots for the "southern breeders"

8. Having the Bobwhite finally respond.

9. Getting all the expected species at Heislerville but nothing out of the ordinary.

10. The seemingly endless wait (about 8 minutes) at the campground for the Red-headed Woodpecker to appear.

11. The quick, efficient tour of Cape May (south of the canal)

12. Missing Cattle Egret in all four of our potential locations

13. Heading toward Brigantine knowing we were on time and the plan for the southern route had worked

14. Having the Whip-poor-will circle around us as dusk fell at Brig

15. The quick three hours of night birding in the south.

16. One last futile attempt for the Snow Goose at Fort Apache.

17. The enjoyment of getting to the finish line after a successful day

18. Trying to find my car keys at 12:30 am. (They were in a coffee travel mug in my pack. Right where I put them.)

19. Being so lucky to be able to work with Zack, Mike and Paul to be part of a team that is good at this silly event.

20. Having so much fun it is almost sinful.

So another year ends but another year begins. On Tuesday, two days after the event, I was back doing some casual birding at Brigantine. A Snow Goose, a species we missed on the World Series Day, flew in front of my van and landed nearby in the impoundment. You could convince me that he turned, looked at me, and smiled.

Bert Filemyr

The Cumulative List And Comments

The cumulative list for the DVOC teams from 1984 to 2010 has been posted at:


Here are a few comments……….

The DVOC has participated in 26 of the 27 World Series of Birding. We did not enter a team in 1986. For four years (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991) there were two DVOC teams entered, the "normal" team and a "B team". This brief look covers the 26 years of the DVOC participation but does not include the results of the four years of the "B Team".


In the 26 years of participation our cumulative total is 278 species.

There are 104 species we have identified every year

There are 149 species we have identified 25 out of the 26 years

There are 175 species we have identified at least 21 out of the 26 years


Since we identified 228 species this year it can be argued that we "missed" 50 species (278 minus 228). Of the 50 we missed, 46 species have been seen by our team on less that 40% of the World Series. In fact there are 26 species we have seen 5 or less years.

Looking at our 6 top misses this year we have

Upland Sandpiper (now seen 11 out of 26 years)

Bonaparte's Gull (now seen 11 out of 26 years)

Golden-crowned Kinglet (now seen 12 out of 26 years)

Green-winged Teal (now seen 19 out of 26 years)

Snow Goose (now seen 23 out of 26 years)

Cattle Egret (now seen 25 out of 26 years)

Upland Sandpiper habitat is no longer on our route. We have not seen it for 11 years. Bonaparte's Gulls were around in very small numbers, usually along the Delaware Bayshore. Our route did not allow viewing time there. Golden-crowned Kinglets are winter residents that were pretty much gone this year. That leaves our big misses as Green-winged Teal, Snow Goose, and Cattle Egret. There were a couple of Green-winged Teal reported at Brigantine NWR in the days before the event but in our hour there we failed to locate them. Having the World Series on this last date made ducks very difficult. The traditional Snow Goose at Cape May County Zoo has not been seen since this winter. That was a reliable bird. There was one Snow Goose at Brig up until about Tuesday when the Cornell team watched a Bald Eagle eat it. A single Snow Goose made a 24 hour cameo appearance with some Canada Geese on Fulling Mill Road in Cape May County from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday afternoon. It was never relocated. Cattle Egrets are rapidly declining in New Jersey. We knew the four spots they had been seen in the Cape May area during the week before the event. On the big day we managed to route all four of those spots in. We missed Cattle Egret at all four spots. This was the first year we missed Cattle Egret.


There are 8 species we identified this year that we do not commonly identify.

Common Eider (our 2nd record in 26 years)

Brown Pelican (our 3nd record in 26 years)

Hooded Merganser (our 4th record in 26 years)

Northern Goshawk (our 4th record in 26 years)

Dark-eyed Junco (our 4th record in 26 years)

American Wigeon (our 4th record in 26 years)

Marbled Godwit (our 4th record in 26 years)

Long-eared Owl (our 4th record in 26 years)

The Common Eider had been in Townsend's Inlet for several days so finding it was not a surprise. The Brown Pelican, which we saw scanning the ocean from Cape May was a surprise. Hooded Mergansers appear to breeding at a pond in northern New Jersey so we expected to see that bird. Goshawks nest in northern New Jersey so they are around but their nests are deep into the forest. Mike picked out an adult bird soaring along a ridge near Culver's Lake, a great spot. The Wigeon and the Marbled Godwit were at Brigantine and we heard a Long-eared Owl up north.


It is always interesting to look at the species list from a statistical standpoint. There are lessons to be learned.







Friday, May 21, 2010


There is a section on the DVOC website ( that relates to the World Series of Birding.
The master page for the Lagerhead Shrikes is
For the past several years we have created a section for each year. The section for 2010 is at
Here you will find links to our species list, pictures from the event, and an abridged version of the report given to the club at the May 21st meeting.
In a few days the cumulative list will be updated to reflect this year's event and will be posted.



Thursday, May 20, 2010

5 hardest birds in Northern Jersey (Part II better late then never)

Excuse me for my tardiness in revealing the final 3 species that made my "5 hardest bird species to find in Northern Jersey." Just to remind the readers each species must regualarly breed in NJ and be considered a North Jersey specialty. Additionally, Ruffed Grouse and Winter Wren were chosen as number 5 and 4 respectivally. Now on to the top 3!

[ photo provided by Bill Hubick]

At #3 I have chosen Golden-winged Warbler. This species has drastically declined in numbers over the past 10 years, primarly due to loss of habitat and competition from Blue-winged Warblers. To my knowledge there are less than 5 breeding pairs of Golden-winged Warblers left in the state of New Jersey. Soon enough this species will no longer make the Lagerhead Shrike's checklist.

Coming in at #2 is a species common to most people's feeders throughout the winter but rarely seen past early May, Dark-eyed Junco. This species certainly nests along the high ridges of Northern Jersey but is always elusive around the World Series of Birding. The Lagerhead Shrikes have yet to nail down a nesting bird and can only rely on lingering feeder birds. Pounds of bird seed have been used to keep a single Junco around for an extra day or two during the middle of May.

[Photo provided by Bill Hubick]

Finally, the #1 hardest species to find in Northern Jersey is the almost mythical Northern Goshawk. This species is sighted every year during scout week in various locations of Northern Sussex County. If you were to ask most teams where Goshawk nested in Northern Jersey they could provide a 10 square mile territory to look. Sadly the Lagerhead Shrikes don't have the resources to send a search party out for this species and it is probably better off that way. Just knowing that the species is sucessfully breeding in the state is enough excitement for me.

And if you were wondering how the Lagerhead Shrikes did this year with seeing any of the what I have claimed to be the "5 hardest birds in Northern Jersey" on the Big Day; you will be pleased to hear it was a clean sweep!!!

Zach Baer

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Highlights and Lowlights 2010

Here are some of our teams highlights and lowlights for 2010 in no particular order. I'm sure my teammates can think of some more, I tried to limit them to 10.


1) Getting 32 species of warblers in a day always has to be a highlight, but getting 30 species by 10am has to be some kind of a record!

2) Having an adult Goshawk soaring over the ridge above Culver's Lake while we searched for migrant warbler flocks there.

3) Having Ravens calling while we made an unplanned bathroom break at High Point park headquarters. The bathrooms were locked though.

4) Zach's list of the hardest birds in the North is still unfinished, but he picked Grouse and Winter Wren so far. We got them both this year and from the same spot no less!

5) Very few teams were in the Great Swamp this year because most of it was walk in only. This made for some fantastic listening conditions and we got what we needed there in pretty good time and also picked up a bonus of a calling White-throated Sparrow which was very tough this year.

6) After scouring the South unsuccessfully for Bobwhite ( We think the snowy winter did them in) we managed to whistle in the only reliable one I could find in only 10 minutes while we hunkered behind a hedgerow even while the wind was blowing 30mph!

7) Getting all the Southern Breeders in only about 20 minutes even though the afternoon was warm and windy.

8) For the second year in a row we had a Harrier at our Barn Owl spot saving us lots of time scanning marshes for that tough to nail down bird.

9) Doing our seawatching, but not finding the usual tern flock there. This meant we missed Jaeger, Black Tern, Bonapart's Gull and Roseate Tern again, but we still got Red-breasted Merganser (4), Brown Pelican (2), and Royal Tern (2) while we "wasted" some time there.

10) Having a second perfect night for listening on Saturday and actually having too many rails calling (clappers) to have any chance at Black Rail at Turkey Point. At around 10:40 the marsh suddenly got quiet and a single Black Rail started to call from not too far away to end our day.


1) After sweating Cattle Egret all week, we had 4 spots lined up where they were hanging out, only we dipped at all 4 spots and mised it for the first time in many years.

2) Getting pulled over by a cop while driving North from Great Swamp. We were lucky we had our "old guy" driving and he did his best confused senior citizen imitation and got off with a warning. We even got directions from the cop because we told him we were lost (we lied).

3) Backing hard into a telephone pole we couldn't see, but somehow we didn't damage the minivan. Only our pride was damaged and we didn't find anything new at that spot either.

4) Missing the Harlequin Duck we had found scouting , but our youth team got it right where we looked for it just before us!?

5) Getting most of our target species from the Gull Tower at Brigantine just as the killer swarm of no-see-ums and mosquitos decended upon us. It was so bad we couldn't see or breathe and we couldn't get the bug dope on fast enough. I'm still scratching bites...

6) Scouting Heislerville impoundments all week and it was fabulous for birds (see my pics on blog) only to arrive there on WSB to find it desolate and empty? We pretty much wasted a good half an hour there for nothing of value, but that happens sometimes.

7) Missing both species of Kinglets. No Golden-crowned along our route this year for the first time and we seem to miss Ruby-crowned almost every year for some reason.

8) Zach had to tramp around the marsh for almost 10 minutes (in my boots that barely fit him) before we finally managed to flush (barely) a Saltmarsh Sparrow that was so ratty looking that I actualy felt guilty counting him (I'm over it now).

9) Our minivan just plain sucked this year. The doors rattled, the brakes squeeked, and you had to jam the accelerator through the floor (I did it a lot!) only to have the car respond seconds later with some moderate acceleration. I lost some high range hearing from those squeeky brakes, but I think it may have attracted some birds (or frightened them away). It did survive my wild driving though including my "Dukes of Hazzard" railroad grade where I launch the vehicle every year to watch the guys in the backseat hit their heads on the ceiling of the van. It's one of the little pleasures of driving the entire last 11 hours of the event.

10) Having a bike race round Culver's Lake while we tried to bird it. We somehow managed to not kill any of them.

Michael Fritz
Seaville, NJ

Sent from my iPad

Reflections on WSB 2010

Now that the dust has settled and I was able to catch up on sleep I have some time to look back on our incredible day. For a year where we had the 3rd warmest April on record it was actually one of the coldest scout weeks I can remember. Both Zach and I predicted we would finish in the low 220's based on what we were and weren't finding, but this current route of ours has proven very consistent. We have had 229, 229, and 228 species for the last 3 years. The warm April meant that most of the lingering ducks took off, but we still managed to get a respectable tally of waterfowl despite missing Green-winged Teal. We even had a chance for Harlequin, and Long-tailed Duck but missed then during the event. In the South portion we even had several birds we didn't have scout week including RT Loon and Pelican. My experience has been that you create your own luck, and we spent some extra time scanning the ocean because we knew our timings.

There are lots of teams with some awesome birders out there, but this year was another example of how time management and good teamwork (along with a little luck) is what wins the event. Zach and Paul ran a flawless North route and we headed South on time (10:30am) with 150 species (a team record) and 30 species of warblers already tallied! We had time to hit all our planned stops in the South and got most, but not all the species we had on the table there. It's always nice to get to try for everything even if they don't always cooperate. We ended our daylight at Brigantine as we did the last several years and tacked another 8 species onto the list at last light. It's always nice to be still racking up birds until the end. I think the team will agree with me that our 2010 run surpassed our expectations and we were pleasantly surprised with the result.

Michael Fritz
Seaville, NJ

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our Species List

A list of the 228 species we saw is at



Final Results of WSB 2010

Just as an FYI, here are all the final results of this year's event...

Monday, May 17, 2010

How the South played out...

After weeks of scouting by Bert and I, Team Lagerhead finally arrived at the Millville Wawa to fuel up and start the southern portion of our WSB run. Our arrival time of just before 1pm was on schedule and even early, so I knew that the part of the run I was responsible for was going to fit in the daylight hours we had left. I had the advantage of doing a similar route as last year, so I was able to gauge our progress by cross checking our time against last year's time at several key spots. This allowed me to remain relatively relaxed and allow a maximum amount of time at each spot and utilize every last minute of daylight for birding. It was now just a matter of getting the birds to cooperate. It was a warm day and winds were gusting 25mph plus as we started our Southern run.

First stop was a Barn Owl nest and we scored a bonus N. Harrier and Horned Lark near there for the second year in a row. We next ran through Bevans WMA and picked up all our Southern Breeders in reasonably quick order considering the wind. We added Carolina Chickadee, White-eyed Vireo, Kentucky Warbler, Prothonotory Warbler, Blue Grosbeak, and Orchard Oriole to our growing list and were now ready to work on shorebirds, etc. We stopped at the only spot I had Bobwhite all week and after 10 minutes of whistling we got an answer and were off to Heislerville. Here we hoped to clean up on shorebirds, but things were pretty sparse for some reason. We did get White-rumpled Sandpiper and some common shorebirds, but missed Black Skimmer and Yellow-crowned Night Heron and the hoped for Curlew Sandpiper. We had hoped for more! We then headed straight to the campground where we got our Red-headed Woodpecker after a bit more searching than we had hoped to do.

We now headed straight to West Cape May still on schedule where 3-4 spots for Cattle Egret failed to produce and a quick sky watch for Mississiippi Kite or Merlin was unsuccessful. We went to our sea watch spot at the point and were starting to get frustrated when we saw no tern flock as expected. We were quickly cheered however by the sightings of Brown pelican, Gannets, Royal Tern and Red-breasted Merganser. All of those are tough to get birds. We went to the State Park to look at our Piping Plover Nest and also added Gadwall there, then off to Cove Pool where we added Pectoral Sandpiper and Blue-winged Teal, but missed Snipe and Green-winged Teal there. Our next stop was Cape May Harbor where a Bufflehead was right in front of the parking area, but the Ruddy Duck was a no show. We located the Ruddy Duck all the way across the harbor by the Canyon Club Marina then we were off to Ocean Drive where we found a single Saltmarsh Sparrow which reluctantly allowed us to view him after a bit of marsh tramping by Zach.

At this point we started heading back North working our way up to end our day at Brig. We next stopped along Stone Harbor causeway where we found both Little Blue and Tricolored Heron in just 1-2 minutes as well as Whimbrel and Peregrine Falcon! We stopped at Nummy Island where we got nothing new, then went to 113th street where we got Purple Sandpiper and a bonus of Red-throated Loon offshore. That's a bird we didn't have even once all week while scouting, and we were only able to spot it because the wind had died completely and the ocean was as flat as glass. We then headed up to Townsend's Inlet getting Yellow-crowned Night Heron at a roost along the way. At the inlet we found the Common Eider, but couldn't find the Harlequin Duck (our youth team had it there before us) or the Long-tailed Duck. A scan of the ocean produced nothing new, but we did get a roosting adult Lesser Black-backed Gull though. Our last stop before heading to Brig. was the overlook at JFK Bvd in Sea Isle City where we found the Surf and Black Scoters that had been there all week. We even put a quarter in the parking meter while we scanned there!

We arrived at Brig. at 7:20pm a bit ahead of schedule and went right to the gull tower to scan. We had some good luck from there even though it was crowded because of a team doing a "big sit" up there. We quickly located our missing Black Skimmers as well as Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, and a Shoveler and had a Nighthawk flying around us eating the hordes of insects that were eating us. We had a bonus of a Marbled Godwit, but never did find the Bar-tailed Godwit that was hanging out there for 3 days. Heading around the dike produced nothing new except for an Am. Wigeon from the North Dike. At dusk we had our usual Chucks and Whips from the exit road as well a Nighthawk (3 species of nightjars at one time!) before dashing South to our first night spot at Tyler rd. We needed King Rail and conditions were perfect, but the marsh was silent. After almost 40 minutes and lots of clapping we finally got our bird and went to our last spot for the day at Turkey Point. The Marsh here was so loud with calling clapper rails it was hard to hear anything else. We waited as long as we could wait and still make it to the finish on time in the hopes of hearing a Black Rail. While Bert and Paul finished our list in the van, Zach and I waited and waited. Finally around 10:45the marsh grew silent and we heard a Black Rail vocalize about 4-5 times not to far away! We used up our last few minutes hoping for a Nelson's Sparrow with no luck and headed for the finish line (an hour away from here) to see how would make out in the totals. We knew we had had a great day, but would it be good enough???


Sent from my iPad

Recovering from Sleep Deprivation

Some of the Lagerhead Shrikes had slept a mere 4-6 hours between Friday morning and Sunday afternoon. Sleep is secondary to scouting last minute spots throughout Friday, running the Big Day on Saturday, and enjoying several cold ones well into the morning on Sunday. To overcome this I have just come out of a 16 hour coma feeling refreshed and ready for another Big Day!

Zach Baer (finally back in the realm of the living)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Brief Description of the First Night

We had a great night run up north. Here's a quick review of how it played out.

We started in Great Swamp. They no longer allow the teams to drive in, so we had to park outside the gate and walk in. When we initially heard this, we thought it was going to make life difficult. After a bit of checking with Google maps, we realized it required to walks, each of a half mile in and a half mile out. Fortunately, one of the 1/2 mile legs would be done before midnight.

So how bad was the automobile restriction for us? In a word, it was AWESOME! For the first time in about two decades of using this location for WSB, the swamp was truly quiet. No engine noise, no crunching gravel, and significantly fewer teams, We could hear at amazing distances. And on top of all that, the birds cooperated with most of the targets putting in an appearance plus a nice migrant flight. We hit two locations in the refuge and headed on out towards Sussex County.

Next stop was Lewisburg Marsh, which also cooperated. This tucked away location was a must use stop for a number of teams this year. The Sora there, unlike the one at Great Swamp (and by that I mean the only one we heard) was calling its head off. The necessary ticks were heard, and we ran off for some owls.

The standard Saw-whet cooperated after just a little tooting. The Long-eared stop paid off both with the main target bird and Common Nighthawk. After that, it was off to the grasslands. Grasshopper Sparrow sang very early for us, and we were off to start our diurnal birding.

The winds at Great Swamp were calm, and the temperatures reasonable. The winds had picked up in Sussex Country, but remained manageable. All in all, we had a very pleasant night, one of the nicest we've had for a number of years.

The Urner Stone Cup

At the brunch

Sunday Brunch

The Morning After

After getting a few hours sleep we are getting ready for the awards brunch. Already yesterday seems distant.


Preliminary results show our team tied for first place

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Our total



We are out beside the marshes trying to add another one or two species to our total.


Sunset at Brig


We are on the Parkway heading to Brig. This will be our last daylight stop. We have not totaled the list but we know we are doing well.

Scanning Townsend's Inlet


Crossing canal heading south


We have left Heislerville and heading for the red-headed woodpecker spot

In the south!

We arrived in Millville on schedule.
Phase 2 begins

As few minutes of well deserved rest as we head south

Getting out of the North

We are leaving the north on schedule. Our species list is looking very good

At Culver's Lake

Moving along

In High Point

Vesper Hill

On Vesper Hill waiting for sunrise.

Friday, May 14, 2010

At the Great Swamp NWR

Getting coffee!

2010 Lagerhead Shrikes

A Word About Our Sponsor

The Lagerhead Shrikes and all members of DVOC thank Nikon Sport Optics for their continued support of the team. Nikon covers the entrance fee, the rental vehicle and various incidental expenses. We appreciate Nikon Sport Optics and we hope everyone will consider Nikon products when purchasing optics and cameras.


By Nikon sponsoring us, 100% of money pledged or donated to our Conservation Fund is distributed to our conservation cause.


The Lagerhead Shrikes

A Needle in a Haystack

In almost exactly 24 hours from now our team will be at the Heislerville impoundments in Cumberland county looking at HUGE flocks of sandpipers.  Most will be common species, but somewhere in there will be rare birds be need to find.  It's problematic to pull these rare birds out of so many birds and the tendency is to stay too long.  Our team is pretty good at knowing when to say "Go!" whether we get the bird or not.  These pics were taken there a few hours ago, the one shows a flock of several THOUSAND shorebirds (the haystack)  and the other is a Curlew Sandpiper I found among them (the needle).  Amazing sight!  I'm going to take a nap now before the event.  I think we're as prepared as we can be and time will tell if we have what it takes to win this year.  I know we will be doing our best.



Mowing the Grass....hopper Sparrows!!!

When teammate Zach called me last minute and said they were a bit shakey in the North on Grasshopper Sparrows I figured no problem I have a field right along the route with over a dozen males on territory.  I went there this morning to check it out and while watching the sparrows a tractor pulled up and started to mow the field!!  How unlucky can you get?  I watched the sparrows flying away from the mower (how sad) and went to look for a new field of these hard to find birds.  I did find another nearby though, so hopefully it isn't mowed this afternoon...


The Day Before.......

                This is a day of final scouting and then dealing with logistics. Right now Zack and Paul are up in north Jersey nailing down the northern route. Bert and Mike are in the south doing the same. Sometime around noon Paul (and Anita) and Zack will drive back to Paul's house in Montgomery County PA, scout along the way, leave the vehicles used during scouting at the Guris's  and pick up the rental van. Mike and Bert will do last minute scouting in the south including checking information from last night's swap meet. Late afternoon Bert will get up to Mike's house for what has become a tradition. Pizza, one beer and lots of looking at the Delorme Atlas of New Jersey.

                Early evening Paul and Zack will bring the rental van to a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway. Mike's wife Jeanne will drive Mike, Bert and the food and beverages up to the same rest stop. We should meet about 8-9 pm. This will be the first time the team has been together since last year's event!

                "Stuff" will be moved from vehicle to vehicle. If all goes well, about 9 pm the team will be in the van heading up to Great Swamp. Scouting stories will be swapped, friendly insults will be exchanged, and a stop at Starbucks will be made.

                Midnight will find the team standing at the edge of a marsh in Great Swamp NWR. The event begins!



Flipflop at Brig...Bar-tailed Godwit!

Thursday I went to scout Brigantine in the morning to convince myself it wasn't worth going there this year since reports were so dismal.  Well,  I ended up doing just the opposite.  In short order I found both Bitterns, 2 Ring-necked Ducks, BW Teal, Caspian and Gull-billed Tern, and both Harrier and Peregrine and that was BEFORE the good stuff.  As I started down the South Dike I had 2 adult White-faced Ibis right along the road (see pic) and a bit further along I found a large flock of shore birds with 5 White-rumps and a real prize of a Western Sandpiper.  They are very rare in Spring here and this bird was mostly in alternate plumage.  Between the Peregrine Tower and the end of the South Dike a spotted what I assumed was gonna be a Marbled Godwit, but it didn't seem right.  It seemed short and had an all dark bill, and no streaks on the flanks and breast.  The breast was a uniform rich chestnut and I jumped out of the car for my scope.  I had a life bird!  I figured it was a Bar-tailed Godwit, so I called my friend Michael O'brien (who wrote The Shorebird Book) to go over the ID details.  While talking to Michael the bird took off and I could see the white tail and the white extended up the back in a wedge.  It also had white under wings, ID confirmed!!  Suddenly Brig wasn't so bad after all....  Picture (so-so) attached of the Godwit.

Oh yeah,  I also found a Wigeon and 2 Willow Flycatchers on my way out.  


Near Death Experience

Late last night while doing night scouting and having been out birding for 18 straight hours I almost met my maker.  I was running the usual "Cumberland Count Wildlife Gauntlet" which last night was 6 Opossum, 18 deer, and a Skunk in the road, when I rounded a sharp bend at an undisclosed high rate of speed and saw this tree had falen across the entire road!  I managed to stop just in time and the front bumper was actualy touching he tree.  I took this photo when my heart started back up and moved enough of the tree out of the way to get to Turkey Point where I heard almost nothing worth while and no black rails.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sharing Information

It is traditional that on Thursday evening before the World Series teams meet at CMBO in Goshen to share information. This helps level the playing field for teams that cannot devote lots of time to scouting.

The scouting gets serious..

A roseate tern showed up and then the birders showed up.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where are they?

For several years Cattle Egrets were quite common in New Jersey. They have declined dramatically in the past several years.
This year there has been one seen up in Salem County. Down here in Cape May there are about 5 or 6 of them. They appear in a field for an hour or so and then are gone. There is no pattern to the time of day but there are only a couple of fields they favor.

We will have to be very, very lucky to see on Saturday. We could miss Cattle Egret this year.



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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Getting Hot!

After a slow, cold, depressing morning trying to find good birds I stopped for a coffee.  With the vulture of death (see pic) looking over our route I decided to spend the afternoon along the beachfront where i know the spots pretty well and hoped to find some positives.  The bad weather and rain made for good seabirding and I quickly hit the jackpot and had in quick succession all 3 Scoter,  dozens of Gannets, C. Loon, Purple Sandpiper, 3 RB Mergansers, C. Eider, Long-tailed Duck, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Great Cormorants, a N. Harrier, Red Knots, Tri-colored Herons, Little Blue Herons, Peregrine, and several other needed birds!  Wow.  It got better fast and I was now confident again that we had what we needed to win, so I met Bert at Lucky Bones for a beer and some strategy talk for Wednesday.  Such is the ups and downs of scouting...


p.s. The young Eagle in the first pic (taken through my sun roof) tried to eat a Swan chick at Heislerville.  Big mistake as the adult Swan's beat the living daylights out of him!  It was fun to watch, but I was routing for the Eagle this time... 

Cold then Hot day of scouting

Too much scouting by teams involves going to established spots to reconfirm what's already been reported.  "Real" scouting involves endless stops at little visited spots to try and discover new things.  Unfortunately that takes a lot of time and can be very depressing when you repeatedly find nothing interesting at each stop.  I spent the first half of today doing " real" scouting and it was really depressing.  I felt I had nothing to show for it, but actually I found some really nice areas for the future and had some good finds to go with it.  It didn't help that it was unseasonably cold and birds were pretty quiet.  See my pics of how cold and some Purple Martins too cold to even open their eyes let alone fly!


Bert's C. Eider gets around

Today I was at JFK Bvd. in Sea Isle and I was able to see the Common Eider at least a mile to the South toward Avalon.  It goes to show how far these birds range from day to day or hour to hour and how we miss even well "staked out" birds.  A half hour later I was at the Townsend's Inlet Bridge and I saw the same Eider floating with the incoming tide, went under the bridge inside the bay and sat up on a sod bank and fell asleep.  See pic of him about to go under the bridge and go to sleep.

Dots and Connections

The first few days of serious scouting are concerned with finding locations for species. These are "dots". The second part of scouting is finding a route that makes it feasible for us to get to as many places as possible. These are the  "connections".


The dot phase is winding down and now we are trying to connect the dots. Here in the south Mike Fritz in the master of time and distance. First comes up with a plan. Then he announces that we cannot possibly make that plan work. Then he announces that we are going to try it anyway. And then on the big day he manages to make the plan work. We never have the time to do a "dry run" of the route so we count on Mike's sense of time and distance.



Red-headed Woodpeckers

Some birds are found pretty much over all of New Jersey (Titmice, Mourning Doves, Mallards, etc). They pose little problem for World Series teams. But other species only occur in small pockets. One such species is the Red-headed Woodpecker. There are only a few pockets of them and it is difficult to route any one of the places into a state wide run.


One small colony of these woodpeckers occurs at a campground in southern New Jersey. The managers of the property, each year, allow teams to access the campground and see the birds. The week before the event teams scout the place in preparation for the big day. I made my annual scouting trip today. It was great to see the birds and also great to see the managers again. All teams that take advantage of this place are grateful for their hospitality.


Bert Filemyr

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tools of the Trade

Yes, your optics are certainly important in all your birding, but for World Series, it's tough to overstate the importance of other tools like a laptop...

Or the Weather Channel...
Here's hoping we don't see conditions like these on game day. I've done the event in heat, cold, wind, and/or rain, but never in fire. I guess there's always a first...

Anita is Scouting Topless!

And she looks really happy doing it...

Wantage Grasslands

I spent Monday morning covering the Wantage Grasslands and the surrounding area. Vesper Sparrow was singing before 5am which means I will have to wake-up even earlier tom. Pheasants, White-crowned Sparrow, Raven and Bobolinks were around.

I then spent some time at Lewisburg Marsh which held a Least Bittern and 5 Common Moorhens (I hear that there is also a coot and pied-billed grebe!).

I ended my morning in Stokes State Forest enjoying multiple Blue-headed Vireos, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Cerulean Warblers. Additionally, a Kentucky Warbler continues to sing along Grau Rd. in Stokes.

(Sleep is a limited commodity, so I will try and catch-up posting tom.)

Zach Baer

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Atlantic County

I spent the entire day scouting a possible route change through Atlantic County and since it's an area we don't usually scout it meant I had to check out every little corner of the area.Some things turned out pretty well, and Peaslee WMA had lots of Summer Tanagers, several Prothonotorys, Blue Grosbeaks, and a territorial Coopers Hawk.  I had two nice bonus birds along a powerline cut today that won't be there for WSB but were a nice surprise.  There was an Olive-sided Flycatcher perched atop a dead pine and I had a very late Palm Warbler when I got out of the car to look at the Coopers Hawk.  In the town of Dorothy (what an odd name) I found a Red-headed Woodpecker that came out of it's nest hole and quickly went back in because it was only 39 degrees out.  I saw 2 others flying by in the area, so there are lots around there.  

I tried to scout the Atlantic City Airport at Pomona for Upland Sandpiper that I know is there, but in this post 9/11 world it isn't even legal to stop along the road there!  I'd imagine they would shoot to kill if I looked through a scope.  I was not happy about it because I know there are at least 2 pairs there and we might be driving right by them.  I have seen them right from the terminal area years ago before all this paranoia... 

Last stop was a quick spin around Brigantine in the still 40mph wind gusts.  Right away I had 12 Gull-billed Terns, 2 Caspians from the Gull tower and 4 Green-wing and 2 Blue-winged Teal.  Great start, but it got real slow after that.  I did see a distant Am. Wigeon and had some Bobolinks (we need a spot for that one) as well as a couple of Blue Grosbeaks.  Overall it was really pretty dreadful there.  Very few shorebirds and those were specks.  The worst part was that the single (injured) Snow Goose hanging on there was eaten the day before by a Bald Eagle, so now we have no Snow Goose.  There are too many Eagles around nowadays when all your linger waterfowl keep getting eaten.  Bert and I ended the day talking strategy (and had a beer) while we waited to see what time "Chuck's" and "Whips" would call.  We had a bonus calling Barred Owl while we waited, nice way to end the day.


Birding at Dusk and an Eider

After scouting separately today, Mike and I met at dusk to nail down a spot for Chuck-will's-widows and Whip-poor-wills. The wind was blowing but we managed to hear "chucks" nearby and distant "whips".  An unexpected bonus was a Woodcock that vocalized once and a Barred Owl that called several times.


The picture above is a Common Eider that was at 8th Avenue Jetty in Avalon today. All his friends have headed north by now. Will he stay around until Saturday? It would be nice if he does but we often say "ducks will break your heart"! They always seem to leave right before the event.



Sunday in the Walpack Valley

The pond on Thunder Mountain Rd. (part of Peter's Valley historic village) use to have lots of flooded brush and vegetation for Pied-billed Grebe. It looks like the Beavers have been too successful for us, and there doesn't seem to be enough cover for this species anymore. There is, however, some nice wet spots that are custom made for this Green Heron, a bird we've highly suspected as a breeder here in the past.

On the way out late today, Anita and I found this little scene from the downstream side of the Old Mine Rd. bridge that crosses the Big Flatbrook. The nearby area where this stream empties into the Delaware River has been a winner for this species for years.

Wind and Snow in Northern Jersey Today

As Anita mentioned the wind was howling today, which made scouting difficult to say the least. What Anita didn't know is that during most of the morning snow flurries fell on the Lagerhead Shrikes!!! Listening to a Kentucky Warbler sing its head off while having snow fall from the sky was nothing short of amazing.

Zach Baer (trying to stay warm)

High Point & Stokes on Sunday

Cold and windy made for tough conditions, but birds were still found. Veeries were all over the roads in High Point and I had to push them out of the way (gently, of course!) with my car. Here's a pic that I took over the top of the windshield of my Miata.

The black spruce bog on Ridge Rd. in High Point held several singing Canada Warblers, 3-4 singing Northern Waterthrushes, a Black-throated Blue, and a Magnolia.

Hawk nests are always a priority. This Broad-winged Hawk nest is on Grau Rd., at the second road sign / pole #8 south of the Ocquitunk Campground in Stokes. It's viewable from the road without disturbing the bird.


Winds here in Cape May are gusting to 35 MPH. It really limits how productive scouting is.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

From the Central to the South

I scouted my way south today. My first stop was at Riverwinds near Philadelphia and my last stop was at Hidden Valley in Cape May. The wind picked up as the day went on and by mid afternoon it was gusting to 40 mph.

I found spots for Cattle Egret, shorebirds, Harrier, southern breeding warblers, etc. I was able to locate the much reported Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Hidden Valley at the end of the day.
Mike Fritz and I met for dinner, beers, and strategy. We realized members of the Cornell team and the CMBO team were eating at the same restaurant so we all got together for a friendly chat.
I will be staying in Cape May for the next week as we get ready for the big event.


Bert Filemyr

Scouting begins in the North!

Here we are in the Myer Motel Saturday night.  The weather looks like it won't be very cooperative.  Forecast is 38 degrees tonight with a high of 55 tomorrow.  Winds 20-30 mph, with occasional gusts over 40 mph, and we are planning on looking for Grouse in the morning.  
Can you say...FUN?  Zach and Paul are planning strategy while I sit here blogging.  They are busy coming up with tomorrow's plan of attack.  
Anita K. Guris
1604 Woodland Rd
Green Lane, PA 18054

215.234.8557 home
215.234.4517 fax

Looong Day Scouting

Today was a full 12+ hour scouting day for me.  My goal was to "nail down" as many of the Southern breeding land birds as possible today.  My scouting had me in five counties and I only quit at 6pm because the 40mph wind down here made further birding nearly impossible.  All in all it was a very successful day.  I found some of all the species I was looking for, but not nearly enough individuals yet.  I will work on that tomorrow.  For some reason I saw more Summer Tanagers today than I heard.  I took a pic of one of the males that refused to sing.  He needs to get tuned up soon so we can find him next Saturday.  Chats on the other hand were singing seemingly everywhere today.  I actually had one singing close enough and in view, so I took his photo (see pic).  In my experience, they usually sing from inside the tree about 5-10 feet from the top and are tough to even see let alone photograph.  One worry I'm having is lingering waterfowl.  They are gonna be tough this year since all this hot weather sent them North.  Tomorrow is another long day for me so I'm off for beer and some rest.


On my Way from CA

After months of anticipation I am on my way to NJ to begin scouting the North! Over the next couple of days look for lots more posting as the Shrikes begin to put together a strategy and route for May 15th. Any day now the flood gates should open and New Jersey will be overwhelmed by passerines.


Scout Week Begins!

The actual competition is one week away - next Saturday is the big day!  All teams are focusing on finding birds, checking out routes, sharing information and renewing friendships.

All four of the Lagerhead Shrikes will be spending most of the coming week in the field scouting. Paul and Zack will concentrate on the northern part of the state and Mike and Bert will concentrate on the central and southern part of the state. There is no sense duplicating efforts so most scouting will be done individually. Phone calls  and text messages will be used to keep in touch during the day.  Paul and Zack will meet at least once every day as will Mike and Bert. The team will not be together at any time during the week. The first time the team will all be in the same place at the same time will be Friday night, only a few hours before the start.


Bert Filemyr



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Team Stability

The 1997 DVOC WSB team - Mike Fritz, Julian Hough, Adrian Binns, Paul Guris (Capt) - (© A and J Binns)

The DVOC has participated in 25 of the previous 26 World Series of Birding. There was no DVOC team entered in 1986. In the four years from 1988-1991 the club had two teams entered.

Over all the years there have only been 25 individuals on the DVOC teams. This stability, which leads to experience, has been a major factor in the success of our teams over the years.

These club members have been one or more DVOC World Series of Birding teams.
Baer, Zach
Binns, Adrian
Brady, Alan
Brendel, Erica
Brethwaite, Kate
Danzenbaker, Chris
Danzenbaker, Mike
Dooley, Chris
Edwards, Megan
Filemyr, Bert
Fingerhood, Ed
Fritz, Mike
Guris, Paul
Hill, Armas
Hough, Julian
Mellon, Rick
Miller, Johnny
Murphy, Bill
Pilotte, Eric
Ridgely, Bob
Russell, Keith
Sherman, Sandy
Stocku, Bill
Walters, Chris
Windfelder, Frank
A full list of DVOC teams and participants is at

Bert Filemyr