River Horse Brewery Sponsors the Knight Herons!

In what many have deemed a “match made in heaven” the Scarlet Knight Herons have fired up a sponsorship with River Horse Brewery. Located along the banks of the Delaware River in Lambertville, NJ, River Horse has been brewing fine craft ales and lagers since 1996. River Horse also participates in a number of environmentally friendly programs such as recycling waste grains for use as livestock feed and offsetting energy consumption with carbon credits.

While other teams are sponsored by lame optics companies, the Knight Herons have opted to pursue the adult-beverage industry to help with their quest to identify multitudes of rare birds throughout New Jersey. What better way to do that than with a pair of binoculars in one hand and an ice-cold River Horse in the other (or just use a beer helmet if you have trouble holding binoculars with one hand – come on man, do I have to think of everything?). Obviously the more beer we drink, the easier it will be to get into “the zone” when trying to track down extremely elusive birds such as dickcissels and bushtits. Being that we already drink River Horse at our graduate student association meetings on Fridays (as well as every other day in between those meetings) it seemed logical to team up for the World Series of Birding.

Through dynamic sponsorships such as this, we hope to usher in a new era of conservation awareness combined with beer appreciation. With the support of New Jersey’s finest brewery, the Scarlet Knight Herons are now poised to endure 24 straight hours of frenetic birding on May 9th. Many thanks go out to River Horse Brewery not only for their sponsorship but more importantly for brewing such great-tasting beer!  Please check out the River Horse website by clicking the link or the photo on the right-hand side of our blog.

-Charlie Kontos

Scouting, 4/18-19

Back up north again. Spring has seemed slow to start in New Jersey, but this past weekend was much more seasonal. Warm weather and calm conditions made for a couple great days to be out in the woods! I took full advantage, and was rewarded with some good "intelligence".

There was still an abundance of early migrants to be found. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were everywhere; I heard their short "chi-ditt!" calls almost everywhere I went. Juncoes were singing in several locations, as were Palm Warblers. A striking number of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been present on Crigger road in Stokes, and the Spruce grove near Ocquitunk campground were thick with Golden-crowned Kinglets. While most of these will be long gone come May 9th, its always good to know where such migrants are hanging out...it might just be the spot you find that lingering bird on the big day.

New breeding birds were in as well. The pair of Yellow-throated Warblers that have nested in the Blewett Tract (just outside of Bevans) has returned again. This species is common in southern New Jersey, but it doesn't hurt to get it out of the way. Red-breasted Nuthatches were also there, and I observed a pair of Common Mergansers loafing on the Flatbrook. The perrenial Cliff Swallows were down the valley a bit at the DOT Barn. They had already refurbished their nest and one of them was sitting inside with its head poking out. Heading up Struble rd I heard several Blue-headed Vireos and numerous Brown Creepers.

Our northern route seems to be working itself out nicely, but we need to see how the next few weeks go. There are a few holes in our plan, and I'll be trying to patch them up. Of course everyone is wondering what the status on Golden-winged Warblers in Sussex County will turn out to be. Last year they seemed to have disappeared entirely from traditional WSB spots, but I have a few new locations we're going to check out. This is a disturbing development in the ongoing plight of an endangered species.

I'll probably be taking a weekend off from scouting to actually do some school work. Stay tuned though, more to come!


Knight Herons featured on Wild NJ

Hey everyone,

Wild New Jersey has posted a short article about our World Series of Birding team and our fund-raising efforts.  You can check out the article by visiting the site here: Wild New Jersey

Keep helping us raise awareness for our cause!  The big day is less than a month away!

Thanks for reading,

Sunday in Sussex

On Sunday morning I did a few hours of scouting in High Point and Stokes State Park, and man was it cold!

Beyond the frigid temperature, though, it was really nice to finally get out and check a few locations along our WSOB route (and yes, it did eventually warm up). I forget how beautiful it is in the northwest corner of the state, and right now at the end of winter, it's alive with the new sights and sounds of spring. Doing a little recon on my own I trekked around the Cat Swamp area looking for any signs of nesting raptors. I found none, but I did get to watch Tree Swallows foraging over fields of tussocks, and pairs of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers courting and chasing each other to and from various dead hemlocks. The sapsuckers would become the common theme through the morning, with their loud "waa" call and drumming being heard at almost every stop. It's great to see them in such high numbers during migration, but by the time the WSOB rolls around, we better have a pair staked out as they rarely breed in the state.

The strangest encounter of the day was definitely a dead porcupine at the base of a hemlock tree in Cat Swamp. Being from Florida, these creatures are totally "outside of my reality" (a phrase commonly used by the late and great Ted Stiles), and therefore I never expect to run into them. Once I saw it, thought, I immediately thought of our teammate Charlie Kontos, who studies carnivorous mammals in New Jersey. This carcas was pretty hefty, I'd say at least 15 lbs, and yet Charlie tells me that they're a delicacy for Fishers, his current research focus. I don't think this particular dead porcupine had anything to do with a Fisher, but man what a confrontation that would be!

Later in the morning I met up with fellow teamate Brian Clough and his better-half, Amy Manning, to do some more sleuthing for signs of spring fever in raptors. We encountered more Wood Ducks, both Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, and several pockets of mixed passerines such as Golden-crowned (very common) and Ruby-crowned (less common) Kinglets, and some downright specky breeding plumaged Palm Warblers. At several stops we heard the distant high stacatto song of recently returned Pine Warblers. These encounters remind me that It won't be long now before the dawn chorus expands to include dozens of breeding birds. By the end of the day we found a single nest that looked promising but we could not confirm whether it was currently occupied. During the next week one of us will have to go back with a spotting scope... and maybe a camp chair and a thermos of coffee (it's a rough life, I know).

The Knight Herons have been 'toonized!

A fellow graduate student, Dom D'Amore, has been gracious enough to lend his artistic hand to the Scarlet Knight Herons.  Along with creating a few logos for our use, he also drew and colored this cartoon version of the team:

There's only a little over four weeks left until the big event!  We've all been swamped with work and school, but the scouting efforts should increase a little in the coming week or two.  Stay tuned, everyone, and help us spread the word about our fund-raising efforts.  Thanks!