Sunday, February 27, 2011

Birds from the Great Swamp

Yesterday I did some birding at the Great Swamp NWR. The woods were very quiet. Much of the ground was still covered in snow or ice, and the boardwalk trails were still icy for long stretches. The quiet was occasionally broken by the calls of Pileated Woodpeckers as they flew around and hammered against tree trunks. The birdiest spots were around the two blinds with birdfeeders. A mix of Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Dark-eyed Juncos took turns snatching seeds and carrying them away.

The far blind, known as the Friends Blind, looked out on some open water, which a moving stream managed to keep ice-free. The waterfowl numbers seemed low, but there was a nice collection of ducks. I saw my first Wood Ducks for the year and added a few waterbird species to my Morris County list. I enjoyed seeing Wood Ducks in their breeding plumage since those are some of the most beautiful ducks but can be easy to miss, even in the right habitat. Other waterfowl present included Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, Common Merganser, and Ruddy Duck. It is possible that waterbird numbers will increase there over the next few weeks as more of the ice melts.

You can see more of my photos from the woods at my Flickr account.