At work on Monday, our social media guru called the staff’s attention to a local RBA – a Yellow-Head Blackbird visiting the Meadowlands. (The Meadowlands being my new local birding hole.) This particular Yellow-headed Blackbird was first spotted on the 27th. (If you recall, I had birded the Meadowlands at Dekorte on the 29th.) All the other RBA announcements pertaining to Yellow-headed Blackbirds were in south Jersey, thus a good drive away. However, an RBA within your stomping grounds deserts an effort at locating it.
So that being decided, I threw my boots and binoculars in my car for after class on Tuesday. Now the days are longer and warmer, I have time to bird after class.
I got there around 4 in the afternoon. I wandered through the Kingsland Overlook trail which is where the bird was frequently spotted according to ebird. Without success, I decided to go do the embankment loops. The day was pleasant – a hint of cool, but a vastly superior day compared to the last 80! There were fewer birds today than on Saturday. Mute Swans were most prominent in the pool, a Great Egret hunted along one bank. In the back, along the New Jersey Turnpike, Redwing Blackbirds were staking out territories as American Robins, Song Sparrows, and American Tree Sparrows grazed along the path. Rabbits scampered further out of sight as I approached, the only indication of their presence being the sounds of rabbit pitter-patter crashing through the reeds. At the end, I found a scattering of Buffleheads who appear to appreciate the seclusion of the reeds. Turning back, I saw a male and female Common Merganser coasting along in tranquility.
I walked the second embankment, studying the pools. A number of birds were at the far distance, black specs against a descending sun. On the far shore, a solitary deer made its way through the mud. In the interior waters however I found a slew of ducks: Northern Pintails, Mallards, American Black Ducks, Nothern Shovelers, more Buffleheads, Green-winged Teal, a Gadwall.
As I walked closer, I heard a curious call – like a garbled Killdeer. Knowing Killdeer to be in the area, I listed again, but the caller did not repeat itself.
Attempting to watch a gull manage landing on the surface, my camera caught sight of three Greater Yellow-legs scurrying past. I followed them with my eyes as they moved with purpose. Then they called confirming the odd call heard earlier as the Greater Yellow-legs. As a dog and its owner moved closer, the birds, five in total flew up and over the path into the duck pond. Two more Greater Yellow-legs called from the far shore where the deer had been.
I finished walking the embankments and returned to the inhabited region of DeKorte where birders were beginning to arrive. As I suspected, they were all there in hopes of seeing the Yellow-headed Blackbird. In speaking with them, I learned that the bird would come in around the day’s end with a flock of Cowbirds.
In mingling with the birders, I ran into a familiar face – a birder who I had first met nearly a year ago when working a gig at the locally owned bird store – Wild Birds Unlimited, one of the top Bergen Birders. I tagged along with him, learning a little more of the Blackbird’s recent movements, other choice birding areas within the county, and a who’s-who of the birders present. For over three hours we scanned the skies and the trees from the parking lot, roads, and later the Kingsland Overlook.
This Yellow-headed Blackbird appeared by all accounts to be an obliging fellow – posing in trees and puddles easily accessible for birders. Some birders had amazing views from their cars!
However, that was not to be our luck on this evening. Despite the dozen or so sentinels keeping watch in the area, no evidence of the bird was seen. Our best show of the evening were the hundreds of Canada Geese streaming overhead and a hunting Osprey. But here’s a consolation video I took of the Yellow-legs.