Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Jersey Birding

      Last weekend was my birthday, 8/8 to be exact. The last few years for my birthday, my husband and I would usually take a weekend trip somewhere and go look at nature (ahem, birds) there, find a yummy place to eat, and enjoy exploring somewhere new. Well, we went away the weekend before and it's a pandemic and we have a 3 month old, so I kept it somewhat local. Things were different this year, maybe next year that can change.

     My husband offered to me, on my birthday to hang back with the baby, allowing me to go birding on my own. It's been 3 months since I have birded on my own, always with our kid and here I am granted a quiet, to myself birding adventure. I of course took it, with also, a small sprinkle of that "mom guilt" that everyone speaks of. The concoctions of hormones flowing through my vessels made me feel very weird about this concept, going somewhere for a span of time without the kiddo, that we have been doing so much together. In the end, let's be real, it was indeed a lovely gift.

     I headed to the Meadowlands, because I love marshes and it came recommended. On my birthday, I headed to Mill Creek Marsh and yesterday, 8/11, I headed to DeKorte Park. On Monday, I went to Plumb Beach, here in Brooklyn, with the kiddo strapped to my torso and we did get a seaside sparrow, which was pretty dope, but I can't carry the good camera with me, I'm restricted to baby, binoculars, and my 300mm lens - which don't get me wrong is still a good lens, I just am spoiled by the larger lens and enjoy it more.

     Most of my birding enjoyment these last few days was found in New Jersey and it for sure will not be my last visit!

Mill Creek Marsh is oddly located behind a shopping center. There is good parking and the trails get a 5/5 for strollers. They might even be traverse-able with a wheel chair. For anyone with accessibility needs, this could be a great place, the trails are either small, packed in gravel/soil or boradwalk. There may be a slight bump in getting onto the boardwalks, a small incline ramp would be helpful, one also has to be aware of holes dug out by muskrats, which were easily viewed in the waterways here.

Also, easily viewed, song sparrows. Upon entry, this little buddy followed me for a good while, likely having it's own brood nearby and giving me a piece of its mind. It did the same upon my exit.

A very fun wren, the marsh wren! eBird said I saw way too many, I got flagged for seeing over 10, hearing even more. Sorry-not-sorry for the million marsh wren pics coming up....

Marsh wrens are very charismatic. The smaller the bird the bigger the ego and this is true for wrens, 100%.

You usually hear them before you see them, they scold you. Some are quite brazen, the birds here almost always showed themselves, with seemingly little to no cares about doing so and their proximity to you.

This was a cool sight, a large common snapping turtle moving about the mud flats.

The tide was low, and the semipalmated sandpipers were quite happy in probing the exposed mud and their faces were evidence of that.

Another marsh wren, takes up the appropriate marsh wren position of splay-legged on a reed.

Well done.

Another acceptable perch to take for a marsh wren, the vertical stem stance.

Oh look, another marsh wren!

A bird I cannot tire of!

Giving the tail.

This marsh wren is helping by being a pollinator.

A lovely young snowy egret whose legs were just turning the signature black with yellow feet.

All in all, I liked this place, which on this overcast morning had a backdrop of Manhattan draped in clouds and haze. I will be back and with our daughter, for sure! It's easy walking and rolling along with a stroller. I bet this can be a very exciting place through the different seasons (ehem, ducks?). Bonus was for the muskrats, the big snapping turtle, and lots of dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies! And I was not bothered by a single mosquito!

For my birding yesterday at DeKorte Park, just a stones throw from the sports stadiums, we were greeted by barn swallows which must nest under the elevated walkway and education center over the marsh.
Today, my daughter accompanied me, and again this place gets a 5/5 for stroller accessability. I even think someone with mobility needs could navigate much/part of this place in a wheelchair, maybe with some assistance. The Discovery trail is a network of boardwalks and floating walkways, many with even accessibility ramps to make the transition from one to the other. It is hot though when it's hot outside and overall very open, I could have even strolled with a shade umbrella attachment but we did fine with the stroller visor thing and some blankets for additional shade.

We saw many a Great Egret (pictured) and snowy throughout the park, bust especially on the flats behind the buildings on the other trails.

Lesser yellowlegs -- I am going with this ID because their bill is approximately 1.5x's the length of their noggin and did not have that up-turned look of the greater yellowlegs.
As we walked along, another observation I have made as of late are those of our baby. She is more alert on walks instead of instantly falling asleep, she has begun to look around, make noises, and react to things. So today on our walk along the boardwalks we were practicing some new noises she now makes, high pitched and squeaky, I call them her bird noises. While practicing her bird noises, a bittern took notice of them too, she helped us find her first least bittern and mine for the year. No photos were grabbed, but was so happy to be lucky enough to see one!

Where there is water, there are yellow warblers. Plenty at DeKorte and also at Mill Creek.

One ruddy duck. This place has great duck potential, I look forward to coming back when it is winter!

A snowy egret darts around catching small fish.

They are very fun to watch as they actively chase their food versus the bigger herons that are more of a sit and wait type.

A semipalmated sandpiper ruffles its feathers.

Around the grounds are lots of pollinator gardens which also attracted a lot of American Goldfinch, especially on the thistles, sunflowers, and cone flowers. Those seeds are life for them!

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