Tag Archives: spring

Take a Walk on the Wild Side


I squeezed the car into the pull-off making sure my tail was off the road.  Since the weather was gorgeous, I had come to my semi-secret place to check in on the warbler migration.  This is the place where Hooded Warblers nest every year and the only place I know where I can reliable see both Blue-winged and Golden-winged Warblers.   I knew that it was several weeks too early, but hey, ya never know.   I slipped around the gate and starting walking down the path.  Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers chased each other through the leafless branches, Phoebes gathered bits of mud and what looked like moss and a lone Song Sparrow scratched in the mud.  Other than that, it was completely still.  I soundlessly strolled the path searching for wildflowers, butterflies and hoping for bird calls.  Next to the path, but hidden from view, was a 2 lane road where cars whizzed past just out of ear-shot.  I walked along, then stopped to eye a large pile of black scat with what looked like hair in it.  I paused to ponder what might have passed this way but was distracted by lots of tiny Spring Azures.  Further up the path a large rock was flipped onto the middle of the grass, but the hole where it had been was dry.  I stood and stared, it was an oddity.  How could that has happened?

I continued along reveling in the warmth of the day and being outside when I rounded a slight bend and up ahead I saw I was not alone.  My semi-secret place was not so very private anymore.  My heart pounded.  I was far from the car and a large Black Bear was walking toward me.  It stopped and sniffed the air, it’s nose swiveling from side-to-side.  I stopped too.  I had liberally sprayed my hat and clothing with noxious bug spray.  I was down-wind.  After a few moments of the stand-off, the bear shuffled through the high dry weeds and disappeared.  I hustled back to the car making noise.  Bears really are timid, but still it is not wise to surprise one.

I have never seen a bear in this place.  But they are all around us.  It pays to be attentive.  The smelly bug spray may have helped too.


Filed under Local schmocal

Beach Birds


I am off to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to spend a few days with my cousin.  She and her husband are not birdwatchers, but appreciate that I am, so I will be able make myself scarce a few hours of the day to see what is around.  I hope there is some interesting stuff coming through.  But, I suppose it is too early for Painted Bunting.  Bummer, that would be a life bird.


Filed under migration, Travel

Bird Photography Weekly



In the distance from atop some weeds a rusty hinge squeaked out 3 notes.  

♪Me. Me. Me. ♪  

I looked around perplexed.  It did not sound like anything I knew, yet, there was something familiar about the 3 creaky notes.  Like an opera diva warming up.  

♪Me. Me. Me. ♪  

When I got closer I saw it was a Sparrow croaking out the 3 notes again and again.  It is something I never thought of before, but makes sense.  Like anything else, if you don’t use your voice for a while you know how rusty it becomes.  Maybe it’s the same for birds.  Are at least it was for this bird.  He just repeated the same 3 notes over and over.  

♪ Maids.  Maids. Maids. ♪

As I walked by I sang under my breath, ♬ put on your teakettle,leddle,leddle. ♬


Ooooh, if looks could kill….

To see other birds and not get the evil eye, check out Bird Photography Weekly.


Filed under Local schmocal

Chimney Swifts are on their way back

The first Chimney Swifts of the season have been spotted on the Gulf Coast.  YAY!!!  The folks at Driftwood Wildlife Association will be plotting the swifts’ movements northward over the next few months.  If you would like to contribute, let them know when you see the first ones in your area.  They will post the results to their map.

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Filed under migration

Watch where you walk

Rescued in Manhattan in 1994

May 25, 1994. I was late for work hurrying down 33rd street. The train was late and it had rained in the night. As I power-walked head down in the wind, up ahead I noticed a circle of people clustered around something on the sidewalk. I could not help myself. I stopped to see what had caught the attention of jaded New York commuters. There on the side walk was a female northern parula. Alive, eyes open yet completely still.

“Oh my God, it’s a parula.” The crowd parted. I knelt down. Satisfied that someone was taking care of the situation, they melted away. I stared at the tiny bird. Gingerly I gathered her up, carrying her cupped in my hand to my office on Park. When I walked in my co-worker asked what I had. I told him it was a migrating warbler that appeared to have hit the Empire State Building. How she did not get crushed, stepped on in the morning rush, I had no idea. He immediately took out his coffee and handled me the bag. I nestled her in it on a bed of napkins. Lightly folding down the top, I picked up the phone and started to call birding friends and the local bird societies. One of them gave me the name of a midtown rehabilitator, Vivian Sokol. When I called and explained the situation, she said to come right over. She was amazing.

On December 28, 1994, she mailed me this photo ……with a note on the back. “She suffered a concussion from the collision and a broken wrist on her left wing. Rehabilitating took the summer. She was released at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on Sep 3, 1994 in time for fall migration. She underwent a complete moult from July to August. Here she has completed it to perfection by the end of August when migration restlessness peaked.”

The memory of holding that tiny life moves me still. Thank you Vivian Sokol for the work that you did and hopefully are still doing.


Filed under migration, Photos

Wordless Wednesday

setting up house


Filed under Photos

Birding Clinton Road

Ah. love is in the air

Hard on the heels of my disappointed over missing the World Series of Birding because of my delayed flight back from New Orleans; a friend and I spent some time yesterday on Clinton Road. Clinton Road is a 10-mile wooded wonderland that goes from Route 23 to 94. It snakes through the Newark watershed, has sparkling streams that fall over iron-laced boulders, is a cool delight in summer and breathtaking in autumn. It is also the nesting territory for many of the wood warblers. (should I mention that it is haunted?)

My friend arrived at my house proclaiming that it was a very birdy day. From the house I could hear Orioles, Titmice, Chipping Sparrows and the “Weeeep” of a Great Crested Flycatcher. We threw our gear in the car and headed out.

We rolled down the windows and cranked up the heat (yes, it is still cold up here) listening as we crept down the road. At one end of Clinton Road there is the lake. At this hour the Red-winged Blackbirds were frantically shoves their epaulets in our faces, the Yellow Warblers were chasing each other like sprayed drops of feathered sunshine.

When we got past the houses and into the wooded section, the woods erupted in the melodious songs of the warblers. I smiled and thought to myself, “welcome back”. The Black-throated Greens were murmuring in the trees, Ovenbirds teaching from the forest floor, Prairies ascending the heights, Parulas and Redstarts singing for all they were worth. We were awash in Chestnut-sided Warblers. It was amazing to hear it all. In the end we got 52 species in 4 hours.

Black-throated Blue, Prairie Warbler, Black-throated Green, Ovenbird, Wood Thrush, Veery, Yellow Warbler, Blue-Winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Parula, Redstart, Pine Warbler, Black & White Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Baltimore Oriole, Goldfinch, Scarlet Tanager, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, Tree Swallow, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Turkey, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Broad-winged hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper Hawk, Mourning Dove, Cardinal, Robin, Blue Jay, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Phoebe, Great-crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed vireo, Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Catbird, Chipping Sparrow, House Sparrow, Cowbird.

Are you intrigued? Come to the highlands.


Filed under Local schmocal, migration, Photos

Looking for a Snack

Looking for a snack

This Kingbird cracks me up. Hey! What’s up there?

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Filed under Photos

Talkin’ Turkey

How do they always gobble in unison? It is not like they have a 1,2,3. Go signal….


Filed under video

Birding in the Rain

Early arrival at Wawayanda State Park

I’m birding in the rain
Just birding in the rain
What a glorious feelin’
To see warblers again.

Ok, it was just a passing thought, as I stood in the 40-degree drizzle looking up at dozens of Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumps and 6 or 7, maybe even 10, kinglets (they were everywhere the warblers were. Their ruby crowns were standing up like tiny mohawks). Wait, be still my heart, over there…see it…it’s a Louisiana Waterthrush tail-wagging along the rushing mountain stream. Ah, life is good. I am so glad I detoured to the local state park on my way to do errands. Yes, I know it is not really on the way to anywhere, but most detours are not.

Today’s list was Am. Kestrel, Eastern Phoebes, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, RC Kinglets, Downy WP, Yellow -shafted Flickers, Pileated WP, Tree Swallows, Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated Sparrows, LA Waterthrush, Robins, RW Blackbirds, Grackle, Turkey Vultures, and way too many Cowbirds.


Filed under Local schmocal