Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

After working 12 hours on Sunday, I promised myself I was going to sleep in on Monday. However, my birding posse had plans to return to Garrett Mountain.  I peaked my eyes open around 6:20, saw bright blue skies and popped out of bed!  With the bet on, I couldn’t let my adviser garner birds.

I jumped from bed to the kitchen where I made tea and ate quickly.   I was on site by 7:00 am, getting the parking spot of choice as I was the first car to arrive.  Not knowing if or when they would arrive, I headed down the slopes to collect some birds.

Birding at Garrett Mountain solo is a different experience.  I could go whichever way I wanted, stop when I wanted, linger when I wanted, talk to whoever I wanted. People were more inclined to talk to me!

Being on my own, meant I had a few fortunate opportunities to get really close to some of the birds, including orioles and warblers.  Met some really nice birders who helpfully gave me specifics on the location of some of the best finds at the mountain though I didn’t have a chance to follow up on them (Hooded Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker) or I dipped (Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Least Bittern).

Ovenbird scurries along a fallen limb. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

Ovenbird scurries along a fallen limb. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

Orchard Oriole rests between chases with a Baltimore Oriole. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

Orchard Oriole rests between chases with a Baltimore Oriole. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

A second Orchard Oriole peers out from the new spring foliage. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

A second Orchard Oriole peers out from the new spring foliage. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

A Black-and-white Warbler intent on insects comes up close. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

A Black-and-white Warbler intent on insects comes up close. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

American Redstart forages in the foliage. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

American Redstart forages in the foliage. Garrett Mountain, NJ. Photo taken on May 5, 2014.

Hoofing it back to make it to training on time, I stopped and searched the phragmites for the least bittern when I saw a group of familiar birders arrive on the other side of the pond. I didn’t have time to say hello, but continued up the mountain.