Hitting 100: My species count climbs at the Pole Farm

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 onContinue reading “Hitting 100: My species count climbs at the Pole Farm”

Getting the right shot of the tricky Eastern towhee

The Eastern towhee was one of the first non-backyard birds that caught my attention as I started birding regularly at the Mercer Meadows Pole farm three years ago. I first heard the bright “twee!” call one April morning three years ago, and it would be a few visits more before I spotted one about 10Continue reading “Getting the right shot of the tricky Eastern towhee”

Digging the Dickcissels in our midst

For the past several weeks, Dickcissels have been frequenting the grassland fields of the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, and it has been a thing of wonder. Initially, I wondered if I’d ever see the bird. My Merlin sound app kept hearing the bird, but I could never spot it. I’d see reports of Dickcissel sightingsContinue reading “Digging the Dickcissels in our midst”

My little friend, the song sparrow without a tail

A week ago last Sunday, I was walking on a paved portion of the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail through the main fields up from the Pole Farm parking lot when I stopped to snap a photo of a song sparrow. But something was odd about it. When I brought the photo up on screen at home, IContinue reading “My little friend, the song sparrow without a tail”

Princeton students win World Series of Birding

It’s a rare occasion when my work life and birding hobby converge, but that’s what happened last month when I covered a group of Princeton University students competing in New Jersey Audubon’s World Series of Birding. I had met two of the members of the team on a bird walk they had arranged through theContinue reading “Princeton students win World Series of Birding”

At last, the yellow warbler emerges

For the last three weeks or so, every time I set foot on a particular trail at the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, I’ve heard a yellow warbler. And I do mean heard, not seen. This bird, and I suspect it is just the one, has continually frustrated me because I have not been able toContinue reading “At last, the yellow warbler emerges”

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 thisContinue reading “The thrill of a new bird sighting”

The one where the killdeer twerks at me

One of the joys of my first year of the COVID epidemic was discovering a pair of killdeers that nested in a creek a short walk from my back door. It was a joy again a few days ago to see that another killdeer couple has set up housekeeping in the same area, along theContinue reading “The one where the killdeer twerks at me”

My ‘Big Month’ of birding was even better than I’d hoped

April was the coolest month. Knowing that I had a trip to Texas scheduled and that a few warblers might eventually come my way at home, I set out on a “big month” quest to spot as many species as possible. I set 60 as my target, a reasonable expectation but not a certainty. I’mContinue reading “My ‘Big Month’ of birding was even better than I’d hoped”

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and so is my life list

While I didn’t add a huge number of birds to my “Big Month” count, my trip to Texas did net me four lifers, two that I had seen before but never recorded and two that truly were new sightings for me. I racked up a modest 21 species in College Station during the six daysContinue reading “Everything’s bigger in Texas, and so is my life list”