There are people who would scarcely believe it, but there are times it takes a bit of effort to get me in the field birding. May 1st was one of those days. I might have gotten up that morning to bird except the forecast said rain until mid-afternoon. Forecast was wrong: rain had passed, skies were clearing in the morning, but it wasn’t until late afternoon I got around to birding. I was hoping with the rains of the last several days that there would be fallout (not nuclear).
Ultimately, it was the memory of the stellar birding from May 1st, that got me out the door and headed down the road to the NJ Meadowlands. I arrived late afternoon and headed along the small ridge to see who had recently arrived.
There were Yellow-rumped Warblers in the trees; slightly difficult to locate due to the angle of the setting sun. Walking the trail in reverse might have helped. Had there been more birds in evidence would also have helped.
Not that there’s clear evidence it’s a Yellow-rumped Warbler from the photo, but it was. Not much on the hillside, so I decided to walk the loops around the ponds.
The ponds seemed really empty until I got halfway out. On a mudflat I located a few shorebirds picking morosely at the offerings. Or delightedly, it’s hard to read the expression on the face of a Charadriiformes.
Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows buzzed by, two Forester Terns coasted the gusty breeze. That breeze was the only thing saving all of us from death by insect consumption. Insects were a menace! I couldn’t help but kill them as I readjusted equipment they were so plentiful!
I walked all the way to the highway. And by highway, I mean the New Jersey Turnpike. Whenever I bird here, I feel obligated to walk all the way out and walk the stretch along the turnpike. I feel as though if there’s going to be a hidden gem, chances are it’ll be here.
And I was in luck. As I made my way to the trail end, I spooked a Black-crowned Night-Heron.
While the sighting lifted my spirits a bit, I was feeling lethargic, and was considering calling it a day. I decided to take a quick peak along the other pathway, just to verify I wasn’t missing out on much. I picked up Killdeer and American Goldfinch.
But then I saw this fellow:
While, not a lifer, definitely my best looks yet! I caught sight of the yellow and initially second guessed myself from “something really cool” to “yet another White-throated Sparrow who just won’t leave”. But the way it moved was wrong. This bird had graceful darts from cover to cover, not the hop up and down to flip leaves. Fortunately, I stayed on it and got a photo before a runner ran past spooking the bird into the ether.
Recharged, I decided to do the longer path to discover whatever else there might be, but in the last light, my luck failed me. It was bird empty. Hurrying back before losing the light entirely, I checked the last loop and found all the birds. There many more Greater Yellowlegs and Least Sandpipers, Egrets Great and Snowy, but in the fading light, all the photos were grainy, so we’ll close with a landscape.
Not such a bad start to May!