Rusty Bird, Rusty Birder

On the following Sunday, I joined the Boonton Christmas Bird Count.  I did it last year as well and it’s a very  different experience from the LSP bird count in that we survey multiple localities throughout the day.

We began at Troy Meadows in an obscure fog. (Not just from  the early hour!)  The marsh could have been filled with silent, stalking birds and we never would have known.  The fog insinuated itself between the reeds and wrapped itself around every tree and high tension structure on the meadow.  With the silence, it was not the most promising of mornings,  but at least it was warm!

We did pick up  a few ducks (mostly Mallards, with two  American Black  Ducks) as the morning wore on along with Canada Geese,  Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles in flight.

From the boardwalk in Troy Meadows we made our way to  an abandoned airstrip where we were able to begin picking up some song birds. We got Song Sparrow, and Fox Sparrow, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird. Things were beginning to look up  even if we had yet to see the sun.

The place, like most abandoned places, seemed deserted — save for the flock of black birds at the far end of the strip. We made our way back there as the flock kept fluttering out of view.  It was here we picked up 100’s of Common Grackles (to supplement the ones we worked so hard for earlier!) and interspersed in the flocks of grackles were clumps of Rusty Blackbirds.  We probably had a conservative 60-70 Rusty Blackbirds there.

After Troy  Meadows, we tried our luck in Montville and Lake Valhalla which was surprisingly devoid of waterfowl despite the open water.  It seems as though all the water fowl decided to stay north this winter.   We did pick up Red-headed Woodpecker mid-day though, that was a nice find!

It was a pleasant day, albeit a bit quiet and slow. It wasn’t horribly cold or sunny or windy.  It was a good way to ease back into birding and brush up on the birds.  It was also nice to get to chat a bit with other birders and learn about what birding everyone else does in between Christmas Bird Counts.


Fox Sparrow surveying the abandoned landscape. Boonton Christmas Bird Count. Photo taken December 27, 2015.


Song Sparrow clinging to the reed. Boonton Christmas Bird Count. Photo taken December 27, 2015.


Common Grackle attempting to consume an acorn. Boonton Christmas Bird Count.  Photo taken December 27, 2015.

We contributed 46 species across our sites. We got nearly all the woodpeckers in the state.  We only missed Pileated. (We got Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Red-headed and Sapsucker!)


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