A futile search for the vesper sparrow, and a bad hair day for a heron

Close-up of head of great blue heron

This past week was full of birding adventures close to home, with a typical mixture of highs and lows.

I’ve just about given up my quest to spot a vesper sparrow this fall. One (or who knows how many) has been hanging out at the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, spotted by several people over the last two weeks near the restrooms not far from the Cold Soil Road parking lot. The bird has been seen mainly in the morning but also late in the afternoon, and several photos are posted on eBird.

But none from me, alas.

A Northern pintail floats on Abbott marsh Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.

I drove down to Trenton on Saturday morning to visit John A. Roebling Park and Silver Lake at Abbott Marshlands. Nothing was happening on the lake, but the marsh was busy with mallards, wood ducks and Northern pintails as well as a pair of gadwalls. The lovely resident mute swan couple were also floating gracefully in the marsh.

This mute swan couple is a fixture at Abbott Marsh, Trenton.

Later in the day, I added buffleheads to my life list by visiting Rosedale Park. The park is a short drive from the Reed Bryan Farm entrance to Mercer Meadows, and at the park’s center is a small lake that attracts waterfowl at certain times of year. I don’t have quality photos of the buffleheads to post but I got enough distant shots of the 10 of them swimming to nail down the ID.

I also averted disaster when I discovered that the hood had (again!) fallen off my Sigma telephoto lens. Of course, I made the discovery after I had driven to another section of the park. I drove back to the lake and found it on the water’s edge, right where I’d been scoping out the buffleheads.

I headed to the Pole Farm on Sunday morning, arriving at 7:20 a.m. when the temperature was 27 degrees. The wind was gusty, so the number of birds was limited, but I did see my first wild turkey (a Tom) of the fall.

I couldn’t resist one last trip, hoping to spot a bald eagle at Mercer County Park. I left home during halftime of the Philadelphia Eagles’ game (go, birds!) and when I arrived, the wind was at nearly gale force whipping across the lake.

I didn’t spot any eagles and turned back because the weather was so unpleasant. To my surprise, a great blue heron was standing on the shore maybe 15 feet from me as I made my way up the walkway. I snapped a couple of shots (one tops this post), wished the heron well and then retreated to the warmth of my car. I’m not nearly as hardy as that heron!

Blowin’ in the wind: A great blue heron bears the brunt of the wind whipping across Lake Mercer on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022.

Published by Dan

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

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