Sunday, August 19, 2012

Herons at De Korte Park

Yesterday I was at De Korte Park in the Meadowlands. There had been a number of interesting sightings there in the past few weeks, and I was eager to track down a few of them. The first, Least Bittern, was in its usual spot at the start of the Marsh Discovery Trail. Least Bitterns bred here over the summer, and for the past few weeks, the juveniles have been coming out of the reeds and sitting in the open. The bitterns were really hard to see yesterday, perhaps owing to the high water level. One briefly came out of the reeds, and another perched just inside the reeds on the other side of the island. Initially I mistook the second one for a rail, but it turned out to be a second Least Bittern juvenile after further examination. Neither was in a good clear position for me to photograph them. It was delightful to see them, especially since I had not seen one in five years, and it was my first sighting of one in New Jersey.

A second bird I was interested in seeing was a Tricolored Heron. This immature heron was foraging at the far end of the East Shorebird Pool, almost all the way to the NJ Turnpike. There are also quite a lot of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets patrolling the edges of the pools.

As I mentioned, the water levels are higher than ideal, which means in turn that shorebird numbers are pretty low. However, there are still about 500 Semipalmated Sandpipers in the Shorebird Pools, along with a few dozen yellowlegs. I noted on Short-billed Dowitcher and one Spotted Sandpiper in addition to those birds.