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.

The Last Good Year

Was an epiphany I had the other week.  As I’ve birded this May, I’ve tallied lifer after lifer.  After my birding on May 1st where I was impressed with five lifers, I’ve broken that record several times.    Unless I visit/move to a new and distinct region, I’m not going to so easily accumulate life species with a single excursion.  I’m getting spoiled.

On Monday, our party grew to five for the final outing to Garrett Mountain.  It was a very pleasant excursion.  The weather started off threatening and dismal, but cleared to a very pleasant May morning.  (Initially it was so foggy, we couldn’t spot a single pigeon when overlooking an entire city!)

We met up at 8 and accomplished 4 hours of birding before we all had to depart for the duties of our daily lives.  (In my case, packing for Saturday’s move!)

Driving in I missed the parking lot entrance due to the call of a strange bird and the fog, so I had to do a full loop around the park in order to return as it’s all one-way driving.  But in doing so I picked up the sneaker squeak of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak..

In the woods by the pond, I got to see the Swainson’s Thrush AND the Gray-cheeked Thrush. Which made me very happy because the group picked these species up on a day when I was unable to bird.

Gray-Cheeked and Swainson's Thrush pal around together.

Gray-Cheeked and Swainson’s Thrush pal around together.

At the pond, we located two sandpiper species. Woo!

IMG_4633

The Solitary Sandpiper is solitary.

IMG_4648

Spotted, two Spotted Sandpipers are busy creating mini-spotted offspring.

We also did very well with warblers, but less so with warbler pictures as in I have none.  We picked up Black-throated Green, Tennessee and Nashville hanging out (appropriate, no?), Canada, Wilson, AND a Connecticut Warbler.

All of which are lifers for me in addition to the two Thrushes.  8 lifers in a day. There will never be another day quite like it.