This morning, the Lehigh Gap Naturalists Club went on a field trip to Bake Oven Knob. At the first stop, which was at a farm field, a few members of the group heard singing Eastern Meadowlarks and Horned Larks. We also saw Turkey Vultures, Northern Mockingbird, House Finch, and Rock Pigeon. The second stop was at a spot with grass fields on both sides of the road. Here, the we got great looks at several Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlark. One meadowlark was even carrying food, a behavior that breeding bird atlassers know means confirmed breeding. The third and final stop in the agricultural area was to look at Vesper Sparrow sitting on the wire. The bird flew as soon as the car stopped, but another continued to sing from the vicinity.
The main goal of the field trip was to look for Cerulean Warblers. Ceruleans are small light blue and white wood-warblers that spend most of their time in the tree tops. Bake Oven Road is one of the few remaining places in the Lehigh Valley area that these amazingly beautiful birds can still be found. As the group drove up Bake Oven Road, several American Redstarts were singing, as well as the occasional Indigo Bunting. At the pull-off where the Ceruleans often hang out, a Worm-eating Warbler let out a single dry trill. Using the road as the vantage point, we were able to hear two Ceruleans, but unfortunately we could not see them. We also heard Scarlet Tanager and Red-eyed Vireo at this location.
Bake Oven Knob is known by local birders as a great fall hawkwatching site. Although hawks are not flying this time of year, we decided to go out to the lookout to look for breeding birds and anything else we could find. The walk up to the lookout was quiet, we only heard a few Red-eyed Vireos. From the lookout itself, we could hear birds down below as well as some at the same level as us. Here we heard Black-and-white Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, Ovenbird, Cerulean Warbler, and Eastern Wood-Pewee. From the lookout, we saw a single Black Vulture and I saw a Common Raven in the distance.
The birding was good, but the lookout also had its share of insects. Several Eastern Tiger Swallowtails flew by, as well as two Sleepy Duskywings, a Gray Comma, a Spicebush Swallowtail, a Red-spotted Admiral, and two Mourning Cloaks. The Mourning Cloaks were in fresh condition, as they were part of a recent emergence. Recently, the new Mourning Cloaks are mixing in with the batch that hatched in March and April. This time of year, the early emerging Mourning Cloaks are very tattered and dull. On the way out of the lookout, we found a Wood Frog hopping around the boulders.
The trip was a great success! Although we did not see Cerulean Warblers, we got to hear them and got great looks at some grassland birds. Here is the wildlife list from the day:
Great Crested Flycatcher
Wild Indigo Duskywing
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail