Northern Wheatears rarely visit the metro area. They breed in the high Arctic, Alaska and Greenland. (This bird is of the Greenland race, see how buffy it is.) I missed a Wheatear last fall at Garret Mountain and by the time I was able to get to the Connecticut bird; it had moved on. So when I read that there was a juvenile bird at DeKorte Park at the Meadowlands, I cleared my calendar and asked my boss for a personal day. (Although she is not a birder, she is understands the life bird thing.)
It was raining when I got up this morning and there was no report that the bird was around. But by lunch time the reports started to dribble through just as the sun started to peek through the clouds; so I dashed off to chase the bird. When I arrived at DeKorte Park there were, surprisingly, not a lot of birders. And those that were there had long faces. The bird had been there had not been seen for an hour. While I walked the Transco Trail peering at rocks and trailside sumac, I chatted with folks (You know how I am.) I met BA, one of my fellow hawk counters. She is the one who I spied waving madly from the far end of trail. As I hustled toward her, I found my friends Diane and Suzanne were also hot on the chase. The bird was flitting (and doing a Phoebe-like tail pumping thing) along the rocky edge down a small bank. I watched it for almost an hour. It is beautiful – so subtlety colored. North American life bird 620, I think. I’ll have to go look.
If you go, it is on the right-hand side between the 2 orange hoses. It is about the size of a robin and prefers the rocks.