Scouting continued last weekend as we (Bill and Brian) took a trip up to Sussex county to run through the early morning part of our route. We started the day at Cat Swamp in High Point State Park. Lots of woodpecker activity, including some very active Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers and a Hairy Woodpecker (which we inexplicably missed last year). Brian also had a Purple Finch flyover. A juvenile Bald Eagle and a handful of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets were also seen and heard near the road.

At Thunder Mountain Road we found 6-8 Hooded Mergansers along with a trio of male Wood Ducks trying to "woo" a female. We also spotted (and eventually heard) a Red-Shouldered Hawk soaring above the water.

Both species of nuthatches were joined by a singing Yellow-Throated Warbler at the Blewett Tract. We also had Golden-Crowned Kinglet and a Belted Kingfisher there. This was the location last year where we had a singing Swainson's Thrush, along with a Golden-Winged Warbler we decided not to count due to the overlap in songs between Golden- and Blue-Winged species.

As migration continues, more and more residents will start to settle in, and we'll be able to pin down our exact route. Our current plan is to be out of the north around 10am and heading to Heislerville, a bayshore location we didn't work into our route last year.

T-Minus 38 Days

Can you believe it's been a year already?

The 2010 World Series of Birding is just around the corner, and the Scarlet Knight-Herons are back for another go. This year we've added a 5th team member, Derek Lovitch of He'll join Bill, Brian, Charlie, and David as they try to top last year's total of 178 species.

Early spring scouting has begun. Brian has been in northern NJ searching for raptor nests, and Bill will join him this weekend to start looking and listening for breeding songbirds. While many of the breeding bird locations have been pinned down over the years, there are always a few that give WSB teams trouble, and now is the time to scout possible alternatives to the "tried and true" route.

Lots of questions still remain for our team - where will we start this year? The usual starting point, Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, will be open only to foot traffic this year. That could cost teams valuable time. It may become a necessity, though, if the night birds found there aren't breeding or calling in other convenient locations. Our timing will need to be tweaked this year as well, as we ended up in Belleplain mid-day last WSB, with very few birds moving about or vocalizing. The next few weeks are when the event is won or lost - and we've got lots of logistics and scouting to keep us busy until May 15th.

Please help us out by donating - you can use the PayPal link to the right of this page or contact any member of the team directly. All donations will go to conservation efforts. Last year we were able to raise $1000 for the Ecology & Evolution Graduate Student Association of Rutgers University. Pretty exciting!

Thanks for reading, everyone! Stay tuned for more updates!