The early bird gets the sightings

A common yellowthroat emerges from tree cover May 6, 2021, giving me just enough time to snap a few shots.

Up and about earlier than usual this morning, I headed over to the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm and was rewarded richly. I had barely walked out of the parking lot at Cold Soil and Keefe roads when two tree swallows beckoned me in to one of the best birding locations in Mercer County.

Red-winged blackbirds were trilling away as I turned into the allee to my left. At certain times of year, that pathway over-arched with trees is the hottest spot within the hot spot. Today was one of those days.

Within about five minutes, I’d also spotted song sparrows, a downy woodpecker, a couple of common yellowthroats and, high up in a tree, a pair of Eastern kingbirds who appeared to be very much in love.

I was lucky that one of the yellowthroats, usually elusive little bandits, not only gave his signature witchety-wichety-wichety call but popped into the open long enough for me to get a few quick snaps.

In a span of 90 minutes, I counted 17 species, 18 if you add in the pair of chickadees that I listed as either Carolina or black-capped. The two versions mingle freely in these parts, and they’re too quick for me to type them or even photograph them in the woods.

As I walked out of the allee and into an open field, I was hoping to catch an Eastern meadowlark. That would come on my walk back to the car. Instead, I spotted another pair of goldfinches before glimpsing a couple of sparrows on the ground near an observation deck. I got one poor photo but I did get a great view through the binoculars. With broken ellipses of yellow around their eyes, they were unmistakably savannah sparrows.

I’m fortunate to live within a few miles of the Pole Farm, named for the huge antenna arrays that AT&T placed on the property years ago for trans-Atlantic telephone call transmission. I’m planning a section of the website to highlight birding hot spots, and one of the first entries will certainly be on the “vole farm,” as I call it when the Northern harriers are hunting those small rodents at the park over the winter months.

Published by Dan

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

One thought on “The early bird gets the sightings

  1. Great post of a very successful bird outing, Dan! Love the photo of the common yellowthroat, and thanks for including its vocalization. Helps me remember it. 17 species in 90 minutes–awesome!


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