For several weeks, my species count at the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm sat at 99, enticingly close to the century mark. What exotic bird would take me into triple digits? Some rare visitor from Central America or the Arctic Circle? Some wayward wanderer from Europe, blown in by a storm?
I pondered that question on my walks through the fields and woods until a few days ago when I spotted a cluster of birds in a tree on the Reed Bryan Farm side of the park. Through the binoculars I could make out swallow-like tails, but not in the mood for thinking too hard, I figured I’d get the ID once I got home and got my from-a-distance photos up on screen.
The birds were purple martins, and I felt I bit sheepish for not having figured that out in the field. I amended my e-Bird record and got to thinking: surely I’ve seen a purple martin at the Pole Farm before. Or have I?
I had not!
I’d hit 100, not on some far-darting stranger but a bird that circulates frequently in these parts, one that I’d seen many times at parks in neighboring towns.
Now that I reached that milestone, I naturally asked, what’s next?
Number 101 turned out to be a doozy: a sedge wren.
Ironically, reports of this unusual visitor showed up on e-Bird yesterday, the one morning when I chose not to go out because of too many pressing pre-work chores around the house.
Off to the Pole Farm I went this morning, and I was not surprised when I pulled into the parking lot to see four birders up the trail, eyes fixed on one of the fields. A few minutes later my friend Laura drove up, bookended by the arrival of Pole Farm regulars Mark and Andy. The four of us walked up the trail and joined the others, who were locked in on the song of the wren 100 yards or so in the distance.
I heard the bird and caught a few fleeting glimpses of him.
More birders arrived and there were probably a dozen lined up when I had to head home.
I wasn’t able to get the sedge wren in my camera or binoculars, but I’m happy to count such an honored guest as No. 101 on my Pole Farm list.
On to 102!