Saturday, August 25, 2007

Meadowlands Morning

This morning Patrick and I met to look for shorebirds at De Korte Park, one of the prime access points for birding in New Jersey's Meadowlands. This was the first time we met, though we both grew up in Middlesex County and had visited a lot of the same places. (If I am not mistaken, this was also my first meeting with another bird blogger.)

We made a circuit around the dikes surrounding the main pond. At the entrance gate to the marsh boardwalk trail, there was a Baltimore oriole whistling from the top of a tree. With that auspicious start, we pressed on. The usual De Korte waterbirds were around - great and snowy egrets, mute swans, ruddy ducks, and laughing gulls were visible from the network of boardwalks and blinds. A few least sandpipers were at the muddy edges of the phragmites beds. In the far corner of the Transco Trail, near the Turnpike, there was a small flock of shorebirds, which turned out to be mostly semipalmated sandpipers, with a few greater and lesser yellowlegs on the edges. A few spotted sandpipers were foraging along the rocky sides of the dikes.

The water level was still high as we headed out to the Saw Mill Creek trail that runs along a power line towards the Saw Mill Creek WMA. This is usually the best place in the park to find shorebirds, but today the water levels stayed a bit too high for mudflats. Instead we were treated to a peregrine falcon, which cruised past us twice and landed at the top of one of the electric towers. (It scolded a bit while we took its picture; I'm not sure if that was because of our presence or something else.) An osprey perched to eat a fish on a tower farther down the trail, and another osprey sat on a tower even farther down. A few black duck and a gadwall were visible in the impoundment next to the trail. We had a few looks at distant herons as well. These included a few black-crowned night herons perched in trees.

In addition to the birding opportunities, De Korte Park has a butterfly garden with brightly-colored flowers, including butterfly bushes and trumpet creeper. A lot of monarchs were around, as well as broad-winged skippers and red admirals. I saw my first painted lady (pictured left).

Thanks to Patrick for driving and for a fun morning of birding!

The Meadowlands is hosting a Festival of Birding on the weekend of September 15-16. Details are available from the Hackensack Riverkeeper (co-sponsored by NJ Audubon).

Sunday Update: Here is an article on the recovery of the Haskensack River, via Birds, Bats, and Beyond.


Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Little Blue Heron
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
Ruddy Duck
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
American Herring Gull
Laughing Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Barn Swallow
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
American Robin
Black-capped Chickadee
House Sparrow
House Finch
American Goldfinch
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Baltimore Oriole