Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lincoln's Sparrow at Lord Stirling

Virginia creeperThis morning we returned to the Great Swamp, though this time we visited Lord Stirling Park, in the Somerset County portion of the swamp. The trails there wind through a series of fields, woods, and marshes. There is plenty of good bird habitat in the park, though its size means that flocks will be scattered widely rather than concentrated.

Starting out from the nature center, we ran into flocks of birds almost immediately. There were several swamp sparrows along the entrance causeway. Then at the end of the dike, there was a small group consisting of a swamp sparrow, two field sparrows, and a Lincoln's sparrow. I had all three in the same binocular view at one point. Lincoln's sparrows seem to be moving through in good numbers this weekend, if the postings on JerseyBirds are any indication. We spotted a second Lincoln's in another field later.

Pressing on, we encountered a patch of warbler activity just inside the woods. There were parula, black-and-white, black-throated green, and blackburnian warblers mixed in with an assortment of chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches. There seemed to be more birds in canopy, but they were hard to see because of the height of the trees and the angle of morning sunlight. A nearby meadow had some yellowthroats, yellow rumps, and a magnolia.

boardwalkAfter that, the birding quieted down for the most part. The walk was accompanied by the screams of blue jays and the cackles of red-bellied woodpeckers. In the marshes farthest from the nature center, we saw a good deal of raptor activity. A red-tailed hawk, a sharp-shinned hawk, and a northern harrier were all hoping to find a meal. The last birds for the day's list were a few ovenbirds on the return trails.

tree gallOne non-bird note for today... Somewhere along one of the far boardwalks I spotted this tree with a tremendous gall at its base. The gall appears to be about two feet in diameter, and it even has ferns sprouting from its top.


Canada Goose
Black Vulturetree against blue sky
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Gray Catbird
American Robinturkeytail fungus
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Blue Jay
American Crow
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle