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.

Collect Them All!

With the nicer weather, I am finally out birding more.  I managed to bird on Saturday and Sunday.  On Saturday, I picked up Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker. Downy Woodpecker, and Northern Flicker.

Northern Flicker adds the finishing touches to this year's nest. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on April 12, 2014.

Northern Flicker adds the finishing touches to this year’s nest. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on April 12, 2014.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker breaks its fast. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on April 12, 2014.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker breaks its fast. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on April 12, 2014.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers abound at Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on April 12, 2014.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers abound at Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on April 12, 2014.

On Sunday, while listening to very active woodpeckers chase each other about the center and a couple calling Pileated Woodpeckers, I was quite content with my hall.

Then I received a text at work from an unknown number informing me of a bird I had been longing to add to my life list.  How awesome is that?!  I soon received a follow up email clarifying the identify of the sender.  A volunteer at the nature center was leading a bird walk locally  and had sighted a Red-headed Woodpecker.

Work ended. Did a bit of birding on site and then headed over in the fading light to Demarest. As I pulled up, I heard a funny chortle, looked up and then low and behold, this is pretty much the sight I saw:

Red-headed Woodpecker at the playground at Demarest Nature Center.  Photo taken on April 13, 2014.

Red-headed Woodpecker at the playground at Demarest Nature Center, NJ. Photo taken on April 13, 2014.

Never got a truly amazing look, just a reason to go back.

Three’s Company, Four’s a Picnic

Whee! It’s been ages!  I’ve not had a chance to do much birding this summer!  I’ve been working full time, running the summer camp, researching and contacting ph.d. programs, and getting a second job.  I’ll be adjuncting at Essex County College this fall.  So all of that leaves me little time for birding, and less time for blogging about birding.  As a co-worker pointed out, “It’s funny: the more work at a nature center I do, the less birding I’m able to do.”

So this morning we decided to remedy this.  Three of us from work met up at the Tenafly Nature Center at 7am to do some pre-work birding.  (Because trying to bird with a trail of children behind you just doesn’t work.)  Two of us are experienced birders and the woman who joined us is growing an appreciation for it.

She was running late and I had to split out earlier, so it worked out well.  It’s hard to be the beginning birder with two more experienced birders as you are forever missing sights.  So when I ducked out the balance became better and she could pepper him with questions about the sightings.  Three is an awkward number, even if it is company.

We had mostly common sightings.  We found a roost of Mourning Doves: 30 in a dead tree hanging out with one fledgling American Robin.  We had a good viewing of a red-eyed vireo.  More than a silhouette through trees.  How awesome is that?

Heard the electronic melody of the Wood Thrush to the drumming of the Pileated.  That was pretty neat. In fact, we did well on woodpeckers: Pileated, Downy, and Northern Flickers.  I had two on my way back to the center that I believe were juveniles.

But best of all was presumably the six Green Herons hanging out at the pond.  Clearly the young have fledged and they all hang out in the spadderdock now.

Children in the forest aren’t all bad.  It’s how they develop an appreciate for nature, and activities like hiking and birding which hopefully will remain with them for their whole lives.  On this particular afternoon, we had the kids bring their lunches into the forest to eat in the shelter’s they’ve spent the week building and the four of us running the camp had a lovely picnic on a real blanket while the children played like children should.