Binge Birding: CBC Bingo Results #1

Final results aren’t in, but this is what I remember after a weekend of binge birding. My recommendation is to fill out the bingo card as you go along, not after!

CBC Bingo Results: Liberty State Park

CBC Bingo Results: Liberty State Park

The official results aren’t in yet. I think we were at 55 species when we tallied around 2:30. We then went off to look for a Robin. (Which we failed at.)

House Finches spend the day at the beach. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

House Finches spend the day at the beach. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

There were no surprising finds at Liberty State Park, which is… surprising.

We're eying you, or sleeping with one eye open. Greater Scaups sleep in the same spot annually. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

We’re eying you, or sleeping with one eye open. Greater Scaups sleep in the same spot annually. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

Toward the afternoon we located the Greater (and Lesser) Scaup.  They seem to always sleep in the same area.  I don’t know if it’s their annual Christmas nap or their annual charity; either way, it works.

Lost civilization in NJ. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

Lost civilization in NJ. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

We had a quick detour to go see a lost civilization.  This castle is actually carved into the rock on site.

Area X at Liberty State Park. Restricted Access. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

Area X at Liberty State Park. Restricted Access. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

The interior of Liberty State Park, “Area X”, is off-limits to most birders, but we have a permit and permission allowing us access.  There have been rumors of owls lurking here for years, but no evidence since I joined this CBC-team. Dipped both years now.

The satellite office of Rutgers Newark Holzapfel Lab. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

The satellite office of Rutgers Newark Holzapfel Lab. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

As a post-industrial forest, there are some unexplainable sights.  Such as this table. Why?

We're really serious in our quest for American Robins. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

We’re really serious in our quest for American Robins. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

We did a tally and realized we were missing some incredibly common birds: Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, White-throated Sparrow, American Robin.  Seriously who goes birding and misses *all* of those species?  It’s like we weren’t even birding or something, but from the photo, we were quite determined to find a robin as evidenced by our use of this climbing contraption.

American Kestrel - one of the final birds of the count. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

American Kestrel – one of the final birds of the count. Christmas Bird Count at Liberty State Park. Photo taken on December 14, 2014.

As we returned to the cars, lo and behold we had a Kestrel in a tree (but not a partridge, and no pears, either), and then a Merlin flew by in the background.

We cut out an hour early (shush) and went down the road 10 minutes to where there were reports of a Snowy Owl.  Turns out there may be as many as three.  We waiting about 45 minutes, and just after the sun set we saw one flying low over the Bayonne Public Golf Course.  So that’s why it’s in a blue circle, not a yellow.  Cause it doesn’t quite count.

Next week, I’ll be heading out to Boonton for round 2, so stay tuned!

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If at first you don’t succeed…

A. Quit.
B. Get reinforcements
C. Blame external conditions
D. Blame the gods
E. All of the above

These are the choices of a birder having a bad day.  How many times have you just decided to call it a day, asked another birder if they’ve had better luck finding the target, or blamed conditions?

Afterwards, you…. (select all that apply.)
A. Check ebird for more specifics on location
B. Verify field markings in a field guide/allaboutbirds
C. Call reinforcements
D. Go back again

The number of answer choices selected in question 2 indicates your level Birder Style.  (By the way, if you selected all of the above, you are an Obsessed Birder).

All of this leads me to my pursuit of George this past September.  (Can you tell what type of birder I am yet?)

So George is not a person, not even a birder.  The truth is George was a RBA celebrity.  George appeared in late July at the Meadowlands.  He was an overnight wonder.  The glossiest white feathers, a much bulkier frame; he put the egrets to shame.   And to every birder’s delight he stayed. and stayed. and stayed.

He wasn’t seen every day, but it was it was close.  Birders grew to know him on a very personal level.  They knew his favorite dinning locations at low tide; where he’d go when he needed a change of pace.  He was the celebrity that lived in your neighborhood, much like Mr. Rogers.

He was there throughout the summer, but I couldn’t get away to see him for myself.  15 minutes from my own apartment and I was house-sitting in another state!

Finally September rolled around and I was free to pursue George.  First we forgot to do our research before going.  That was that was Thursday.  So I returned at the next possible opportunity: Saturday.  Here’s what I saw:

Yellowlegs huddled on a distant shore. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 6, 2014.

Yellowlegs huddled on a distant shore. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 6, 2014.

Nope, no George slumbering here.

Snowy Egret and Yellowlegs size comparison. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 6, 2014.

Snowy Egret and Solitary Sandpipers size comparison. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 6, 2014.

No George here either.

Black and white. Cormorants and a white bird at a great distance. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 6, 2014.

Black and white. Double-crested Cormorants and a white bird at a great distance. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 6, 2014.

So a white bird at a far distance. Had its back toward me the entire time.  Visible from the New Jersey Turnpike, I’m sure, but not from my spot.

Conditions were not favorable. So home again I went. The new week began and reports of George’s habits continued. So the next Thursday rolled around. By this time, I was pretty sure I had the precise location of George’s favorite fishing hole.  Now for confirmation.

Solitary sandpipers aren't so solitary.  These solitary sandpipers look like they're skating on ice. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Solitary sandpipers aren’t so solitary. These solitary sandpipers look like they’re skating on ice. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Negative on George.

The Solitary Sandpipers now look like speed skaters in the mud. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

The Solitary Sandpipers now look like speed skaters in the mud. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Still nothing.

Red-tailed Hawk. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Red-tailed Hawk. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Not George.

Hidden in the yellowlegs: Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser as well as Short-billed Dowitchers. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Hidden in the yellowlegs: Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser as well as Short-billed Dowitchers. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Finding George is like finding Waldo, or not.

A migrating Yellow Warbler passes through. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

A migrating Yellow Warbler passes through. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Wrong color for George.

Conclusive proof as we're going to get: George the American White Pelican at the Meadowlands.  NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

Conclusive proof as we’re going to get: George the American White Pelican at the Meadowlands. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on September 11, 2014.

George!

Meeting at the Meadowlands II

On a Thursday early in June as I was leaving work, I was debating whether I should go birding (obviously) or go home and do research on my upcoming trip to Arizona where I would get a few days to bird.  So tough call.  As I was debating, I got a text from my birding partner in crime, suggesting we hit up the Meadowlands briefly.  Birding was meant to be.

Osprey carrying fish past the NJTP. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

Osprey carrying fish past the NJTP. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

That blip against the building is an osprey.  Normally, the Meadowland photos don’t do justice to the true nature of NJ wildlands.  The wilds of New Jersey are not often tucked in far away, remote corners (as there aren’t too many of those in the state!), but in close, obvious areas such as along major American arteries.  Here you have the NJTP (New Jersey Turnpike) which connects Philadelphia and New York. Beyond these cities, it’s I-95.  Despite the high volume of traffic, this region is a thriving haven for many marsh and grassland species.

Osprey carrying fish. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

Osprey carrying fish. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

Here’s the same Osprey captured against the sky.  If the Osprey doesn’t care about the traffic, why should we?

Although, there was quite a bit of traffic in the sky that day.  Soon after, three Mallards flew by.

Mallards in flight. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

Mallards in flight. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

There was also avian activity closer to ground.  As we checked out the marshlands along the turnpike we heard, then located, a Willow Flycatcher.  Unlike its predecessors, this one was sitting out on a conspicuous perch.  Clearly didn’t get the memo: hide, hide, hide.

Finally got a flycatcher: Willow Flycatcher perches in the open. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

Finally got a flycatcher: Willow Flycatcher perches in the open. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

Wandering back, we learned that one of the Sandy-damaged meadow trails was finally reopened.  We took it as far as we could and were rewarded for our curiosity.

Marsh Wren singing in the marsh.  NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

Marsh Wren singing in the marsh. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on June 5, 2014.

The Marsh Wrens we’ve been hearing for some weeks now were finally visible along this trail.

Complete List:

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Gadwall
Mallard
Ring-necked Pheasant
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Red-tailed Hawk
Killdeer
Herring Gull
Forester’s Tern
Black Skimmer
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Willow Flycatcher
Warbling Vireo
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Marsh Wren
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

It was a lovely few hours….. easy enough to say now that I’m inside and well away from the swarms of 10,000s of gnats that infested the walkways.  But the birds were worth it. They always are.

Meeting in the Meadowlands I

On Thursday as I was finishing up work, I  got a text from my birding partner in crime suggesting we head to the Meadowlands for a break between work and evening plans.

We got down there around 4 and had a pleasant walk around the pools.  It wasn’t too buggy because there was a bit of a breeze blowing.

We had views of a Bald Eagle soon after our arrival.  Too far to get photos, but still nice views.  We found a Marsh Wren!  Well, we had someone point out the song to us.  That was pretty exciting.

Snowy Egret. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 29, 2014.

Snowy Egret. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 29, 2014.

We frequently have Snowy and Great Egrets at the Meadowlands.  In general, I find the lack of neck and the Mohawk of feathers to be important identification tools.

Lesser Yellowlegs. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 29, 2014.

Lesser Yellowlegs. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 29, 2014.

Visiting the Meadowlands is a good opportunity for working on identifying differences between Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  As the beak is ramrod straight, I’ll go with a Lesser Yellowlegs.  Greater Yellowlegs have a slight upturn to their bill.

Black Skimmer swoops down to scoop along the water. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 29, 2014.

Black Skimmer swoops down to scoop along the water. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 29, 2014.

As we were heading out we had one more surprise: a Black Skimmer. We had wonderful views of the skimmer flying back and forth.  It even swooped down to skim while we watched.

Day’s List:

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Gadwall
Mallard
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Forster’s Tern
Black Skimmer
Mourning Dove
Warbling Vireo
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Tufted Titmouse
Marsh Wren
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Common Yellowthroat
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

 

America’s Comeback Story

America’s comeback story: the New Jersey Meadowlands.  Rumor says that the Meadowlands of the 1970s was the dumping ground of the Mafia.  Regardless, these wetlands were treated as a dumping ground for garbage and probably chemicals. Today more people think of the football stadium when they hear Meadowlands than of the water and wildlife.

So, on Saturday I killed a few hours there.   It was a pleasant morning.  I found a female Ruddy Duck.  I hadn’t seen any Ruddy Ducks all month, so that was a nice surprise.

Female Ruddy Duck takes off in flight. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 25, 2014.

Female Ruddy Duck takes off in flight. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 25, 2014.

Many people were there, in search of the Cinnamon Teal which had reappeared after a five day absence. I was just happy to be out and about so I did a pass along the pools, then went in search of warblers.  It was remarkably quiet on the ridge, so I returned to the pools.

Dunlin dozes along the Saw Mill Pathway. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 25, 2014.

Dunlin dozes along the Saw Mill Pathway. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 25, 2014.

Along the paths, I found a Dunlin sleeping.  It was there the first time I walked by, and when I returned it was still dozing. It’s a long flight to the Arctic Circle.

NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 25, 2014.

Size comparison between Canada Goose gosling and Lesser Yellowlegs. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 25, 2014.

As I was working my way back to my car and I finally found the goslings.  As much as people disdain the Canada Goose, they have cute goslings.  Near the feeding goslings were Lesser Yellowlegs.

The Meadowlands is a vital stopover ground and breeding place for scores of birds.   Whether the birds have used this region all along, and we’re just paying more attention or they’re returning as we clean up, either way it’s good news.

Stalking Birds at the Celery Farm

On Saturday due to a last minute location change, I met up with my birding partner-in-crime at the Celery Farm, first visited a few weeks ago (written up here.).

What ebird has shown to be a promising hotspot didn’t hold for the day.  It was remarkably quiet.  Granted, the morning was cool.  We did a quick loop around.  We hoped for Common Nighthawks and American Bitterns, but came up with Vultures and Vireos instead.

However it was a good morning for improving our birding by ear.  Although after a stretch of several days hard birding (or at least early birding), we were both feeling it.  She and  I both had new calls to listen for and exchanged many a bleary and befuddled look of “I-knew-that-call-yesterday,-but-can’t-recall-it-today….”

Early into the loop, we heard the exciting dee-dee-dee-dee song of the blackpoll.  Upon “developing” the photo in lightroom, it appears our warbler did a switcheroo with a chickadee.

Black-capped Chickadee switches with a Blackpoll moments before the shutter click. The Celery Farm, Allendale NJ. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.

Black-capped Chickadee switches places with a Blackpoll Warbler moments before the shutter click. The Celery Farm, Allendale NJ. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.

At the far side of the loop, I stopped abruptly when I heard “fitz-phew”.  I climbed on something that made me taller (it was metal and held my weight, so it didn’t garner any additional attention).  I scanned into the sun-drenched branches until I found my prey:

Willow Flycatcher not distinguishable in appearance from Alder Flycatchers or from any other flycatcher by this photo. The Celery Farm, Allendale NJ. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.

Willow Flycatcher, not distinguishable in appearance from Alder Flycatchers, or from any other flycatcher by this photo. The Celery Farm, Allendale NJ. Photo taken on May 17, 2014.

A Willow Flycatcher, hanging out, at the water’s edge where a willow could grow. A moment later, a Red-winged Blackbird took it’s place and we couldn’t relocate it although it continued to call.

With the farm being a bust, we headed over to a pond called Zabreski which had  a generated a RBA featuring a Barrow’s Goldeneye, but that bird was long gone.  So, disappointed, we called it a day and parted ways with fevered promise to try our luck on the morrow.

Mothers’ Day at the Meadowlands

Mother’s Day at the meadowlands was a quiet affair.  A few couples graced the Richard DeKorte Park in the early morning hours taking in the waters.  On the Peninsula, a few families relaxed on the grass where the young frolicked and the parents were moderately vigilant.

Families of Canada Geese choose to raise their young in the safety of the marshlands. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 11, 2014.

Families of Canada Geese choose to raise their young in the safety of the marshlands. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 11, 2014.

I, the solitary interloper, had been warned by a man returning to his vehicle with his dog that it was a quiet day.  One of my early IDs was an Osprey flying past. Hopeful, I did a quick pass through Teal Pool and the Saw Mill Mudflats.  A few Mallards, Northern Shovelers, Gadwall, American Black Duck, and a Common Merganser.  Pretty quiet in numbers compared to sunset, but well-rounded in duck diversity!

Barn Swallow rests from romantic pursuits. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 11, 2014.

Barn Swallow rests from romantic pursuits. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 11, 2014.

Back on the Peninsula, I had views of Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows as well as a punky Lincoln’s Sparrow in the bush (bad views and worse photos, alas!).  A few warblers zipped and zoomed through the trees: Common Yellowthroat, Black-and-white, Yellow-rumped.

A final scan of the water found two Great Egrets.

Heading up to Kingland Overlook I picked up American Redstart, Magnolia, Yellow, and Northern Parula.

Two male Brown-headed Cowbirds pose as Audubon might have positioned them. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 11, 2014.

Two male Brown-headed Cowbirds pose as Audubon might have positioned them. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 11, 2014.

Instead of taking the wooded Transco Trail back, I decided to walk back along Disposal Rd to see if I could get any of the field birds that had been spotted: Kestrels, Bobolinks, Blue Grosbeak (!), or the infamous Ring-necked Pheasant.

I dipped on most but did get Cowbirds, first by ear, then by sight, and photo.  I finally got the Ring-necked Pheasant.  It was hiding in the phragmites of the Bus Parking lot. I spotted it, heard it call twice, but then it hid in the reeds without a further peep.

Returning to the car, I got my one shorebird of the day at the puddles I was skirting: the Least Sandpiper, browsing through the mud and grass.  All together, I had 40 species which wasn’t so bad as to be called a quiet day in my books. (It was more than anyone else reported on ebird!)  Then, I went to work.

A Solitary Sandpiper is a nice surprise as I return to my car. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 11, 2014.

A Least Sandpiper is a nice surprise as I return to my car. NJ Meadowlands. Photo taken on May 11, 2014.

Farming for Birds

Now that the bet was on, I needed to pile on the birds.  Nothing like a little extra motivation in May.

Leaving Garrett Mountain, I headed into work for awhile to run a program introducing Daisies to birding.  I had a group of 15 girls and parents.  Collectively we located 9 species: Canada Goose, Wild Turkey, Green Heron, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, and a Crow sp.   Not so bad for a First Day (hour) of birding.

After work I decided to try birding at the Celery Farm where there is neither a farm nor celery, so I don’t know where the name comes from.

The Celery Farm is a 107-acre freshwater wetland in Allendale, New Jersey, and is open to the public during daylight hours every day of the year. Volunteers from Fyke are responsible for creating and maintaining the footpaths around the preserve, the three observation platforms and the nesting boxes.

Over 240 species of birds have been recorded here, and more than 50 are known to breed here. The wetlands and deciduous woods provide habitat for many mammals, fish, reptiles and insects. – website

The Celery Farm is the second most birded, bird-diverse area in the county according to ebird data.  I had never been so on a co-worker’s recommendation I decided to finish my day there.

A storm approaches. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

A storm approaches. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

The center is an open body of water along which a ~ 1 mile trail winds.  This trail switches between woodlands, a small stream, and a phragmite forest (phorest?). The day was ending, a thunderstorm was moving in, but I got a few birds.  27 all together, bringing the day’s total to 65 species, including Belted Kingfisher, Great Egret, Yellow Warbler which were new for the day.

Canada Goose checks the eggs. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

Canada Goose checks the eggs. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

Wood Ducks step away from their nest to enjoy a sunset swim. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

Wood Ducks step away from their nest to enjoy a sunset swim. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

Great Egret fishes along the shores. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

Great Egret fishes along the shores. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

Yellow Warbler dashes and darts through the buds and branches. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

Yellow Warbler dashes and darts through the buds and branches. Celery Farm, NJ. Photo taken on May 4, 2014.

More Truths

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single town in possession of a good fortune must be in need of a nature center. In Bergen County, where I live, work, and bird, nearly every town appears to have a nature center.  This leaves one with many choices for good birding.

I finally opened my eyes Friday morning.  I was going into work a bit late and could afford to sleep in.  Or I could until I saw the ebird notifications for what had turned up in the last 24 hours.  I bounded out of bed and was out the door within 20 minutes.  No breakfast, just a cup of tea to get me through.

This was me: Clara with her Tea| Doctor Who Tumbr

This was me: Clara with her Tea | Doctor Who Tumbr

Greater Scaup (1 report)
– Solitary Sandpiper (1 report)
– Greater Yellowlegs (2 reports)
– Bonaparte’s Gull (1 report)
– Northern Waterthrush (1 report)
– Savannah Sparrow (1 report)

Many of these were from New York, just across the border, about half a mile from where my folks reside.  I could make it there, get an hour of birding in and still be on time for work, all while getting breakfast at the local deli, to boot!

But it wasn’t to be.

The second truth universally acknowledged is when you want to get somewhere particularly quickly or badly, there will be traffic. Welcome to New Jersey, home of Bridgegate where we invented more traffic because there just wasn’t enough to begin with.

Despite the early hours, there was bad traffic on Rte 46, leading towards the GWB as a result of an accident.  I wasn’t going to make it to the Pier and to work on time.  Thus I began wracking my brain for an alternative.

I decided to go check out Demarest Nature Center of Demarest, NJ, home of the Redheaded Woodpecker. (We hope it’s occupying the tree for the season.)  Driving in, songs were dripping from the abundant greenery.

First stop was to look for the woodpecker, but there was no activity.  I began working my way along the very muddy trails of the center.  I had about 45 minutes there before I had to depart for work.

Surprise, a Louisiana Waterthrush bobs along the flooded pools. Demarest, NJ. Photo taken on May 2, 2014.

Surprise, a Northern Waterthrush bobs along the flooded pools. Demarest, NJ. Photo taken on May 2, 2014.

While there, I did locate Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Gray Catbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, and several Yellow-rumped in addition to our resident birds. I also picked up Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Pileated Woodpecker. Plus, I picked up a Northern Waterthursh (edited).  I had been going with Louisiana because the white screamed white.  However, as Lawrence points out, there are stripes along the throat which indicates Northern. The joys of warblers! This waterthrush nicely jumped up on the branches for a photo op..

I saved a few minutes for a scan of the trees when I returned to my car.  And there it was:

Redheaded Woodpecker remains at the Demarest Nature Center near the playground. Demarest, NJ. Photo taken on May 2, 2014.

Redheaded Woodpecker remains at the Demarest Nature Center near the playground. Demarest, NJ. Photo taken on May 2, 2014.

Truth #3 achieved. What ye seek, ye shall find.

Truth Be Told

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.

Spring has finally arrived! Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

Spring has finally arrived! Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

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.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are taking over the planet; or at least they're leading the spring migration. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are taking over the planet; or at least they’re leading the spring migration. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

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.

Shorebirds take advantage of the low tide. Greater Yellowlegs mingles with Least Sandpipers. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

Shorebirds take advantage of the low tide. Greater Yellowlegs mingles with Least Sandpipers. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

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!

Forester's Tern returns to NJ.  Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken May on 1, 2014.

Forester’s Tern returns to NJ. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken May on 1, 2014.

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:

A surprising Savannah Sparrow. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

A surprising Savannah Sparrow. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

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.

Sunset at the Meadowlands. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

Sunset at the Meadowlands. Meadowlands, NJ. Photo taken on May 1, 2014.

Not such a bad start to May!