You meet the nicest people on the birding paths

A not quite sharp photo of an Eastern towhee, my first of the year, spotted April 17, 2021, at the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm in Lawrence Township, New Jersey.

On-the-trail etiquette is a bit skewed these days because of COVID pandemic restrictions. Midwestern native that I am, I’m usually one to say “hello” or “good morning” or to wave to passersby.

Nowadays, each encounter with an oncoming pedestrian triggers the questions, do I put my mask on, and will the runner/walker do the same? Usually, my answer to the former is yes, even when on a path that’s wider than the six-foot standard for social distancing.

With more and more people getting vaccinated, I expect to see masking expectations and the accompanying tensions ease a bit. That’s good.

This morning at the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, I came across two women who not only said hello, but upon seeing my camera, wished me good luck in shooting and even asked where I post my images. Surprised and flattered, I mentioned that I had started this site yesterday. (Ladies, if you’re reading, thank you for that and for brightening my morning.)

A bit later, I encountered a gentleman birder whom I’ve chatted with a few times before. He comes down from a county north of here, and each time we’ve crossed paths, he’s taught me something new. Today, he spotted a blue-gray gnatcatcher, and I was able to get a nice view through my binoculars. He also helped me identify the call of the field sparrow (“like a dropped Ping Pong ball“), which I’d been hearing all along my walk.

While I venture out to commune with the birds and other critters in the woods, it’s a bonus to encounter birders like those above, freely and amicably giving advice and trading notes on what we’ve seen or hope to see.

Published by Dan

University media executive by day, blogger by night, I am a well-traveled resident of New Jersey

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