The thrill of a new bird sighting

Because of work commitments, my time in the woods and fields has been limited of late, so I’m extra appreciative when new birds come into view.

I spotted my first blue grosbeak on May 17 at the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, and the bird seems to be hanging around as fellow birders spotted it this morning in the same area. That’s just off the Cold Soil Road parking lot, at the turnoff to the alley of trees that’s part of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail.

The blue grosbeak was too far away for me to get a good photo, although my fuzzy frames were sufficient to confirm the identity. I had better luck yesterday, Saturday, May 21, when I spotted just off the trail back to the lot a mid-size brown and yellow bird perched on a stalk of grass.

I didn’t recognize the bird, so I went to my camera first and snapped a few frames. I fumbled with my iPhone to open the Merlin sound app, then took a few more shots. Merlin confirmed a bobolink, which gave me great joy.

Last fall I had spotted a couple of male bobolinks in the same area, identifiable through binoculars but too far out of range for my camera. The bird I spotted yesterday presumably was a female. She’s a beauty, as you can see from the image topping this post.

My friend Laura had alerted me that chimney swifts have been zipping above the historic parts of the Princeton University campus, and I happened to catch a few above Prospect House and the art museum construction site 10 days ago.

Whether I’m seeing a species for the first time, or for the first time in a new setting, it’s always a treat. That bobolink brought me to 100 species spotted in Mercer County this year, and I can’t wait to discover what (f)lies ahead.

Published by Dan

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

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