Ashton Tract (unit of Augustine Wildlife Area, New Castle, DE); Bombay Hook (NWR, Kent, DE); Braddock Bay (WMA and bird observatory, Monroe, NY); Breezy Point (western tip, LI); Brigantine (Brigantine Unit, Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, Atlantic, NJ); Cupsogue (county park east of Moriches Inlet, Suffolk, NY); DNREC (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control); Fort Drum (U. S. Army Military Reservation, Jefferson, NY); Great Gull (island off east LI); LI (Long Island); Hamlin Beach (State Park, Monroe, NY); Howland Island (WMA near Savannah, Cayuga, NY); Jamaica Bay (Wildlife Refuge, New York City); Lakehurst (Naval Air Engineering Station, Ocean, NJ); Little Galloo (Island, east Lake Ontario, off Jefferson, NY); Montezuma (NWR, Seneca/Wayne/Cayuga, NY); Nickerson Beach (County Park, Lido Beach, Nassau, NY); NJDFW (New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife); NYDEC (New York Department of Environmental Conservation); Pea Patch (Island, Delaware River, New Castle, DE); Perch River (WMA, Watertown, Jefferson, NY); Prime Hook (NWR, Sussex, DE); Robert Moses (State Park, Suffolk, NY); Shawangunk (Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, Ulster, NY; Ted Harvey (Wildlife Area, Kitt’s Hummock, Kent, DE); Walkill (NWR, Sussex NJ and Orange, NY).
WATERFOWL THROUGH CRANES
The upstate New York Trumpeter Swan population, probably stemming from escapes rather than from the Ontario reintroduction, expands steadily. A pair with three young at Iroquois NWR, Genesee/Orleans, 15–26 Jun (Debbie Sharon, James & Ann Sawusch) appears to constitute the first modern reproduction so far west in New York. The maximum was nine in Northern Montezuma WMA, Cayuga/Wayne/Seneca, NY 10 July (MT, DS). Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, increasing wanderers since 2000, visited all three states: a pair at Nissequogue River SP Suffolk, NY, 23+ Jun, male only 30 Jun–14 July (Jim Lafferty, DF, m. obs.); in New Jersey, a peripatetic dozen that circulated among Mercer, Monmouth and Middlesex 4 Jun–7 July (James Parris, m. obs., ph. Claus Holzapfel), and another 12, possibly the same, at South Cape May Meadows 24 Jun (Patrick Belardo); in Delaware “several” on private property near Kenton, Kent, 7 Jun (fide APE).
A drake Eurasian Wigeon, nearly annual, remained at Jamaica Bay through 3 Jun (Patrick Horan, Eric Zawatski). Redhead bred for a second year at Montezuma (MT, Joanna Tetlow), site of a 1950s stocking experiment. A male King Eider, soon joined by an immature male, accompanied about 20 more usual Common Eiders 23+ Jun at Shinnecock Inlet, Suffolk, NY (Gail Benson, TWB, Ryan Zucker, ph. Charlie Plimpton). A Common Merganser with six ducklings on the Ramapo River, near Darlington, Bergen, NJ (MC) was east of known Delaware River breeding areas.
Spruce Grouse families were at Madawaska 14 July (Tim Dunn) and Keese Mill Road 19 July (Dennis and Pedro Miranda), both Franklin, NY.
A Red-necked Grebe at Upper and Lower Lakes WMA, St. Lawrence, NY 19–20 Jun (JBo, Eileen Wheeler) was the second June record for the St. Lawrence River Valley.
A Eurasian Collared-Dove was unexpected at Henrietta, near Rochester, NY 8 July (Stephen Taylor), and another visited Cape May Pt. 23 Jun (Michael Pasquarello). This species has not expanded as aggressively here as in the western United States.
A White-winged Dove was described at Schuylerville, Saratoga, NY18 Jun (Scott Varney).
Common Nighthawks were dishearteningly scarce. Urban nesting, once widespread, continues only rarely, e.g. Buffalo, NY (two reports only) and the port of Bayonne, NJ (MB). At Fort Drum, 2–5 per day were observed, but one at Perch River 24 Jun was the only other St. Lawrence River Valley report (JBo). Further south in NY, one was at Wappinger’s Falls, Dutchess, 8 July (Debbie Van Zyl). In New Jersey, they probably breed in the Meadowlands, in Wharton State Forest (Burlington/Atlantic), and at Lakehurst. Cape Henlopen seems to be their only certain breeding locality in Delaware. A Chuck-will’s-widow called for the third summer at its odd northern outpost at West Mountain, Warren, NY, 22 Jun (Cathy Graichen, Gregg Recer) to 7 July (MM).
Sandhill Cranes, whose first modern regional breeding occurred at Savannah, Wayne, NY, in 2003, nested there again (William Gillette), and also at Pharsalia Woods State Forest, Chenango (Michael DeWispelaere), at Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks, Franklin, (GB, Alison Rea), and perhaps elsewhere in upstate New York.
Upland Sandpipers maintained isolated southern outposts at Lakehurst (8 on 21 Jun, ADF, Sarah Freeze et al.), and at Shawangunk (one pair, 3+ Jun, AS, m. obs.) In upstate New York, Upland Sandpipers struggled. Tillman WMA, Clarence, Erie was their only remaining nesting site around Buffalo, and the Deerfield Grasslands south of Poland, Oneida/Herkimer, NY was the only site in the Oneida Lake Basin (MP, DW). In the St. Lawrence River Valley, only one was seen away from Fort Drum, which had 5-6 pairs (JBo).
A remarkable 111 Whimbrels paused on Lake Ontario at Sodus Point, Wayne, NY 26 July (Lynn Bergmeyer, Robert Buckert). A maximum of 34,500 Red Knots and 21,000 Ruddy Turnstones in the Delaware Bay at the end of spring migration showed some improvement, aided by good horseshoe crab egg production (Larry Niles). Southbound Sanderlings were in “great numbers” on Lake Ontario, peaking at 350 at Sandy Point, Cayuga, NY 25 July (Matthew Brown, fide MP, DW). New Jersey’s third Red-necked Stint was photographed at Brigantine 23 July (JA).
Delaware had “the summer of the Ruff.” Bombay Hook hosted some six different individuals (fide FR), while other males visited Ted Harvey 10 July (LB et al.) and Big Stone Beach 12–16 July (CB et al.), both Kent. New Jersey, however, had none, and New York had only one Reeve, at Heckscher SP, Suffolk, 22 July (Lisa Nasta).
Notable interseasonal shorebirds of uncertain migratory status included a Marbled Godwit at Bombay Hook 26–29 Jun (Tabitha Olsen, Laura Wolf, AK, SG); a White-rumped Sandpiper 21 Jun at Sandy Pond, Oswego, NY (MP, DW), and two at Bombay Hook 28 Jun (AK, SG); and a Dunlin at Wilson, Niagara, NY 24 Jun (AG). Forty-three Short-billed Dowitchers at Big Stone Beach, Kent, DE 30 Jun (Jerald Reb) were probably early fall migrants; southbound Short-billed Dowitchers swelled by 13 July to 579 at Jamaica Bay (AB). Oddly, first arrivals were later on Lake Ontario (13 on 17 July, Fair Haven, Cayuga (GD). A remarkable 27 American Avocets on Lake Ontario at Westfield, Chautauqua, NY 15 July (Gale VerHague) were headed for their post-breeding assemblage in Delaware. Willets, presumably post-breeding Westerns, were also above average on Lake Ontario, e.g. six at Sandy Pond, Oswego, NY 9 July (Chris & Sally Holt). Four Wilson’s Phalaropes were about average in New York, two coastal and two at Montezuma. Delaware had three: one at Broadkill Beach 9–12 Jun (Michael Bowen, Anne Cianni), and two at Bombay Hook 25–26 Jun (Jessica Howland et al.) and 14–16 July (Ed Huestis); but New Jersey only one, at Brigantine 26–30 July (Milton Collins, Linda Mack). The only definite Red-necked Phalarope paused at Cape Henlopen, DE 29–31 July (Joe Sebastiani et al.)
SKUAS THROUGH SKIMMERS
The Stony Brook team watched a South Polar Skua drown and consume a Cory’s Shearwater 60 miles off LI 20 July (MF, RH).
Only one Laughing Gull reached the Great Lakes, at Hamlin Beach 6 Jun (AG). The Laughing Gull colony on Sexton Island, Islip, Suffolk, NY, first reported in 2016, still flourishes, confirming this species’ decisive advance eastward on LI beyond its long-time limit at JFK airport (SM). Ring-billed Gull nests went uncounted on Little Galloo, but the Murphy Islands in the St. Lawrence River contained 1662 nests (JBo). Herring Gulls had 1156 nests on Little Galloo, and, for the first time in many years, produced young in the Adirondacks on Fourth Lake, Herkimer/Hamilton, NY (Gary Lee). About thirteen Lesser Black-backed Gulls appeared at four locations in Jun around Rochester (fide RGS), and singles were at Little Sodus Bay, Cayuga, on 21 July (JMcG, LSa) and Myers Point, on Cayuga Lake, 9 July (JMcG). The LI maximum was 36 at Smith’s Point, Suffolk, 3 Jun (fide TWB).
Eight tern species inhabited Nickerson Beach on 20 Jun: Sandwich, Arctic, Gull-billed, Forster’s, Least, Roseate, Common, and Royal (MZ, DF, K&SF). Two pairs of Gull-billed Terns in Hempstead Twp., Nassau, NY (JZ) marked this species’ continuing northeastern breeding limit. Caspian Tern nests reached a record-high 2700 at Little Galloo, 8% above last year (IM). In Buffalo Harbor, now an additional breeding site, 230 were present 2 Jun (GDu). More stray Sandwich Terns than usual appeared on LI, at Nickerson Beach, Breezy Point, Cupsogue, Robert Moses, and Dune Road just east of Triton Lane, Suffolk, 9–30 Jun (AC, AB, DF, SM, MMcB). One was in New Jersey at Great Sedge Island, Island Beach S. P., Ocean, 13 July (ADF). They are not known to breed north of Virginia.
Common Terns on the St. Lawrence River islands (1048 nests) were about as numerous as last year, but fewer than in 2014–2016 (JBo). Since first-year Common Terns rarely return to their birthplaces, a total of about 20 at Nickerson Beach 10 Jun (SM, PJL) was surprising. Arctic Terns have come ashore on LI most summers of the past decade, mostly at Cupsogue. This summer a few also visited Nickerson Beach and Breezy Point. The peak count was four (two first-summer, two second-summer) at Breezy Point 24 Jun (AB). Repeats make total numbers elusive, but they fell short of the totals of 2006, 2008, and especially 2013 (SM). About 415 Forster’s Terns bred in Hempstead Twp., Nassau, NY (JZ), their northeastern limit.
A second-summer Least Tern ventured to Lake Ontario at Braddock Bay 8 July (Jim Miles, Laurie Mattle), only the fourth Rochester area record. Although Least Terns nest on interior rivers, they do not breed on the Great Lakes. Coastal New York had about 3403 pairs at 61 sites. Biggest were the Fire Island Wilderness Area (444 pairs) and Mattituck Inlet, Southold (210 pairs), both Suffolk (KAJ). In New Jersey, 1143 adults were present at 17 sites, the largest being Stone Harbor Pt., Cape May, with 300+, followed by Holgate-North, Ocean, with 260 adults (CD, EH). In Delaware, Least Terns did not nest at Cape Henlopen for the first time since monitoring began (ADeR-W).
The Stony Brook team found a Bridled Tern on debris in Hudson Canyon, about 100 miles off Long Island, 19 July (MF, RH). Observations unrelated to hurricanes are rare. It was not a census year for Black Tern. Black Skimmers are reduced to two colonies in New York: Nickerson Beach, with about 552 individuals (JZ), and Arverne, Queens, with 100 on 4 and 28 July (Corey Finger). A total of 2330 adult Skimmers were counted at five New Jersey locations. As has been the case since 2010, 80% were at Seaview Harbor Marina, Longport, Atlantic, with about 2123 adults and 772 chicks (EH, CD). Although skimmers loaf in Delaware (e.g. 58, Bombay Hook, 11 Jun, LB), none seem to breed there.
LOONS THROUGH PELICANS
An unprecedented Pacific Loon summered around Nummy Island, Cape May, NJ 18+ July (Josh Nemetz, Travis Davis, ph. SG). The eighteenth New York Loon Census found 607 Common Loons on 153 lakes out of 199 censused, mostly in the Adirondacks. The age breakdown was typical: 519 adults, 79 chicks, and 9 immatures (Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation).
Shearwaters streamed off LI, often on strong southeast winds. Historic numbers passed Robert Moses in thirty minutes early 23 Jun: 750 Cory’s, 500 Sooty, and 75 Greater shearwaters (SM, K&SF, DF, MZ). A research team from the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences found two White-faced Storm-Petrels: one south of Hudson Canyon, 5–10 miles east of the continental shelf 17 July, and another at the canyon’s east edge 19 July (MF, RH). This team also found a Brown Booby on 30 July 15.9 miles off Fire Island Inlet (MF et al.), but none were reported ashore.
A hatching-year Anhinga arrived 23 July in rainy south winds at Morningside Park, Fallsburg, NY (ph. John Haas) and was seen again 29 July (RG)—New York’s fourth and Sullivan’s first.
An American White Pelican, annual since the 1990s, summered around the Augustine Wildlife Area, New Castle, DE 2 Jun–29 July (Andy McGann, m. obs.). The largest group of northerly exploring Brown Pelicans was 8 off Breezy Point 16 July (Peter Paul).
HERONS THROUGH SPOONBILLS
New York City Audubon’s 34th harbor heron survey counted 1596 nests of eight species on eight islands and several mainland sites, a slight increase. Continuing recent trends, Black-crowned Night Herons (605), Great Egrets (444) and Snowy Egrets (128) dominated, while Little Blue Herons (7) and Tricolored Herons (1) barely persisted. Cattle Egrets missed again (TWn); indeed, they seem no longer to breed north of Delaware, a notable contraction. A helicopter census of coastal New Jersey in late May recorded 2122 individual Great Egrets in 25 colonies, 744/21 Snowy Egrets, 107/6 Little Blue Herons, 102/13 Tricolored Herons, 930/14 Glossy Ibis, 505/15 Black-crowned Night-Herons, and 71/8 Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. A caveat to this snapshot view notes that dark birds are less detectable than light ones, and that both night-herons also nest outside the area surveyed (CD).
At Pea Patch, an evening census of birds flying in and out on 27 Jun showed increased Little Blue Herons (364 in, 34 out) and Cattle Egrets (355 in, 35 out), while Glossy Ibis (235 in, 15 out) were somewhat down, Snowy Egrets (22 in, 6 out) considerably down and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons absent. The overall heron count there was 1377 flying in and 350 flying out, slightly low (CB), and far below the 12,000 of 1993.
Wandering southern herons included individual Snowy Egrets at Montezuma 8 Jun (MT, DS) and at Buffalo 19 Jun (Dick Collins) and again 11 July (Kevin Rybczysnki); a Little Blue Heron at Lock 2 on the Champlain Canal, Saratoga, NY 28+ July (Lindsay Duval et al.); a Cattle Egret at Montezuma 12–13 Jun (Dave Kennedy et al.); and a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at Montezuma 25–26 July (Tim Lenz, JMcG, LSa, Ann Mitchell).
Only three White Ibis ventured north as far as New Jersey: Supawna Meadows, Salem, 3–11 Jun (Jeff Kiger et al.), Tuckerton, Ocean, 29 Jun (JA) and Ocean City, Cape May, 4–13 July (Chad Hutchinson, Erica Heusser, et al.). The northernmost White-faced Ibis visited Captree Marsh, Suffolk, NY 14 July (PJL, SM).
VULTURES THROUGH EAGLES
Black Vultures, having reached New Jersey as breeders only in 1981, are now regular on the Niagara River at Lewiston, Niagara, NY and “expected” in the Champlain Valley in Essex, NY (Gary Chapin et al.).
New Jersey Ospreys had their most productive summer ever: 583 active nests fledged 932 young, a rate of 1.83 young/active nest (KC). In Delaware, volunteers found 128 nestlings in 77 active nests, a rate of 2.03 (ADeR-W). Mississippi Kites bred in Waretown, Ocean, NJ, for the third consecutive summer (Lisa Carol Wolf, MC).
New Jersey, with one lone pair of breeding Bald Eagles in 1973, the year after DDT was banned, now boasts 185 active nests plus nineteen territorial pairs. About a third of these failed in a cold wet spring, though 121 nests produced 172 young (KC). Delaware had 98 Bald Eagle chicks at 76 nests (ADeR-W). Cooper’s Hawks (unlike Sharp-shins) adapt to suburbia: Buffalo had one nest and Amherst, Erie, NY two (fide DS).
OWLS THROUGH FALCONS
Two Snowy Owls lingered in Lyme Twp., Jefferson, NY through at least 6 Jun, although one was electrocuted by a powerline (CW, m. obs.). One on a Brooklyn rooftop 5 Jun (fide TWB) may have been the same as the young female caught in a Riker’s Island Prison courtyard on 1 July, and rehabilitated by the Wild Bird Fund (N.Y. Times, 3 July 2018).
Short-eared Owls have retreated to the region’s extreme north as breeders since about 1990. We learned of only one pair in Fort Drum and another at Ashland Flats WMA, Jefferson, NY (JBo).
Northwardly expanding Red-bellied Woodpeckers reached central Lake Champlain, where a nest at Ausable Pt. 9 Jun (Stacy Robinson) constituted a Clinton, NY first. Three were in DeKalb twp., Jefferson, NY, in the St. Lawrence River Valley, 9 July (JBo).
New Jersey’s 38 active Peregrine Falcon nests produced 75 young. Although most Peregrines still use man-made structures, they increasingly find abandoned quarries, “a great sign” (KC). In 1972, none at all nested in the eastern United States.
FLYCATCHERS THROUGH WRENS
A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher banded 26 July at Braddock Bay 26 July showed how early passerine migration can begin. A local record high of 3–6 Acadian Flycatchers calling at Bergen Swamp, near Rochester, NY, were at this species’ northern limit. Delaware’s fourth Fork-tailed Flycatcher was at the Ashton Tract 29 Jun (Stephen Grunwald, Brian Henderson, m. obs., ph. James DuHadaway et mult. al.).
Some measure of Warbling Vireo abundance was 43 in a 4.5-mile kayak circumnavigation of Howland Island on 9 Jun (JMcG, LSa); five pairs were in Central Park, NYC, 11 June (DA). A Philadelphia Vireo was outside the Adirondacks for a second year at Fort Drum 4 July (SM, PJL).
American Crows, now well-established urban breeders, nested in Stuyvesant Town, NYC (Ann Lazarus). Fish Crows were present in Buffalo (fide DS) and at Watertown, Jefferson, 21 July (Gerry Smith), but this expanding species has still not been confirmed breeding on the Great Lakes.
A mass of 2425 Bank Swallows, counted from a photo, rested on the ground at Hamlin Beach 8 July (Doug Daniels, DS). Red-breasted Nuthatches began turning up in the lowlands in late June, presaging a fall invasion—e.g. 3 in the Bronx Botanical Garden on 26 Jun (DA) and one at the Glenayre Farm, Burlington, NJ 24 Jun (Thierry Besancon). Sedge Wrens were most evident in the St. Lawrence River Valley, where 33 were reported, including 23 at Fort Drum on 8 July (fide JBo); elsewhere, scattered pairs could be found in appropriate wet grasslands across northern New York in Orleans, Genesee, and Cattaraugus, and in several upper Hudson River localities in Washington.
SPARROWS THROUGH DICKCISSELS
Clay-colored Sparrows, rapidly colonizing upstate New York since the 1990s, occupied a dozen sites across the Lake Ontario plain. Multiples included four or five around Lakeside Beach SP, Orleans, 6–7 July (Don Bemont, Doug Daniels), three at Fort Edward, Washington 8 July (Ron Harrower, Nancy Kern, ZS-W, TW, Scott Varney), and 24 in Fort Drum 3 July (JBo). Remnant Henslow’s Sparrows were found at three St. Lawrence River Valley locations: Perch River with a peak of 11; Chaumont Barrens, with three birds (GD), and five males at Fort Drum (JBo). Henslow’s Sparrow also occupied two areas near Rochester, NY: Beatty Point, Greece Twp., Tompkins 5 Jun–2 July (ph. Brad Carlson, m. ob., sound recording by Robert Reynolds) and Nations Road IBA, Livingstone, 21 Jun (Mike Wasilco, ph. Christina Hoh). Two Henslow’s Sparrows sang well south at Shawangunk for the second year (JDiC, sound recording Karen Fung, MB, Robert Reed et al.). Nesting was confirmed (TWB).
A Western Meadowlark sang in Savannah, Wayne, NY 4–9 July (CW, W&MR, ZS-W, Rachel Bonafilla), following a long history of upstate New York records. Declining Rusty Blackbirds were reported from Military Road, Hamilton, 9 Jun (John Hannon) and from three St. Lawrence localities: Lake Ozonia all summer (Anne Moomay), Wanakena 17 Jun (Bernie Carr), and two in Fine twp. 17 Jun (JBo).
The Indian River Lakes region in northeastern Jefferson, NY is “the last hope in northern New York for a healthy Golden-winged Warbler population with minimal Blue-winged Warbler influence” (JBo). But that situation may not last. Expanding Blue-wings have increased there to 5 alongside 23 Golden-wings. Both Lawrence’s and Brewster’s Warblers were correspondingly visible at Fort Drum, with 9 Brewster’s on 3 Jun (JBo). A small southerly population of Golden-winged Warblers hangs on in Sterling Forest SP, Orange, NY (Rick Cech et al.). Once again, an early fall migrant Tennessee Warbler was banded 26 July at Braddock Bay (ph. Robert Ruckert), while another at Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May, NJ 29 July (ph TJ, AD) was a first July county record. Yellow-throated Warbler was believed to have bred for a second year at Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Suffolk, NY (m. obs.); historically, this species avoided LI in summer. The highest Cerulean Warbler count was 31 at Howland Island 9 Jun (JMcG, LSa). One was very early at Higbee Beach 29 July (ph. TJ, AD). A few Prothonotary Warblers enter northwestern New York from the midwestern population (e.g. 8 at Howland Island 9 Jun (JMcG, LS)). A Hooded Warbler was well north at Wellesley Island in the St. Lawrence River, Jefferson, NY (David Ackerman), and another rare at White Clay Creek SP, New Castle, DE 14 Jun (CB). A singing Swainson’s Warbler, less than annual, was recorded at Cape May 28 Jun (Tom Baxter).
A Summer Tanager at Rushford, Allegany (K & M. Trippi) was far north of its usual LI limit.
A female Blue Grosbeak carrying food 24 July at Walkill (Bradley White) marked a new northern breeding outpost.
Dickcissels again tested their historic eastern range. A bird at Walkill 22 July (Larry Scacchetti) could have been an early migrant, or a wanderer like the bird heard overflying Ramapo Mtn., Bergen, NJ 22 Jun (David Bernstein). Probable breeders in New Jersey included singing males at Warner Road loop, Burlington, 20 Jun (Dana Eglinton) and a colony of at least 4–6 birds near Greenwich, Cumberland, 15–18 July (JA-C, Marilyn Henry, Robert Dodelson, Sandra Keller). As usual, Delaware had the most Dickcissels. Repeating sites were occupied at Charles E. Price Park, near Middletown, New Castle, 1 Jun–10 July (CR, Brian Quindlen, Bert Filemyr, Michael Rosengarten) and Prime Hook NWR headquarters, Sussex, 28 Jun–19 July (SG, Doug Kibbe, Mackenzie Goldthwaite, Howard Patterson, m. obs.). New sites were found west of Seaford 1 Jun (David Fees) and near Bridgeville, both Sussex, 5–18 Jun (Colin Fluharty, AK, et al.).
After a judge blocked the NYDEC’s cull of Double-crested Cormorant nests on Lake Ontario, their relentless spread resumed. Little Galloo had the most nests since 2011 (2769), and a record 3491 occupied the Saint Lawrence River Islands (JBo). They have bred in Buffalo Harbor since 1992 (750 on 2 Jun, GDu). New York Harbor hosted 2093 cormorant nests on seven islands (TWn), approximately twice as many as a decade ago.
Roseate Spoonbills exceeded their 2009 incursion. New Jersey, with only one previous record (1992), had four: Knowlton, Warren, from late May to 1 Jun (David Bernstein et al.), with a further observation at the Hackettstown Fish Hatchery 15 Jun (Susan Kadar); Brigantine 24 Jun (JA-C, m. obs.) to at least 27 July (Susan Dillard); and one over the Garden State Parkway at Rio Grande, Cape May, 2 July (Anne Harlan). New Jersey’s final Spoonbill, at Walkill 22+ July (Linda Scrima, et al.), also became New York’s second record (the first was in 1992) by crossing into Orange 29 July (RG, Matthew Zeitler, Rob Stone). In Delaware, a spoonbill was at Big Stone Beach, Kent, 12–13 Jun while another, perhaps the same, was at Ted Harvey 15 Jun (both LB). The only prior Delaware record dates from 2009.
New Jersey’s carefully monitored Piping Plovers declined for a second summer to 96 pairs, down from a peak 144 in 2003 and a long-term average of 117. This despite productivity of 1.51 fledglings per active pair, well above the long-term average of 1.02. Federally managed lands (Gateway, Sandy Hook, and Brigantine), which now house 72% of the state’s Piping Plover population, were the most productive; municipal and state lands suffered “intense recreational disturbance.” The population has also shifted northward as some traditional southern sites (Avalon) are flooded. Predation caused most nest failures (18 of 34 cases), half by mammals, especially Red Fox, followed by American Mink and Opossum. Other significant predators included crows, gulls, and Great Horned Owls. “The future of Piping Plovers in New Jersey is uncertain” (EH, CD). Delaware, once down to a single pair, had sixteen pairs, four at Cape Henlopen and twelve at Fowler Beach, Sussex, that produced 36 fledglings (ADeR-W).
Piping Plovers are reestablishing a breeding population on eastern Lake Ontario. A pair successfully fledged 4 young at Sandy Island Beach SP, Oswego, NY (Alison Kocek), after failed attempts in 2015 and 2016. This follows success at Lakeview WMA, Jefferson, NY in 2015, the first since 1984. The LI population has risen to 390 pairs (KAJ).
Though Roseate Terns thrive on Great Gull, where about 2200 pairs constitute this species’ largest colony in this hemisphere and possibly in the world (JDiC), only one of the former alternative colonies remained, Gardiner’s Island, Suffolk, NY with ten pairs (KAJ). Breezy Point, where 11–15 gathered 23–24 Jun (Isaac Grant, AB), could become another nesting site.
Red-headed Woodpeckers’ spotty distribution defied generalization. Most New York records were from the Lake Ontario plain, with notable downstate pairs at Muscoot Farm, Westchester (AS), and Connetquot River SP, Suffolk (KF, Patrice Domeischel, et al.). They were thinly but widely distributed in about twenty places in lowland New Jersey, with a predilection for the southeastern Pine Barrens. In Delaware, aside from Milford Neck Wildlife Area, Kent, they were limited to four sites in southeastern Sussex.
Report processed by Amy Davis, 9 December 2020.