Beyond birds: Butterflies and other flying creatures abound

If the birds are shy, I turn to butterflies. I usually can count on spotting at least bird 20 species whenever I visit the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, but that’s usually under ideal conditions in the morning when the birds are at their most active. Whenever I get an opportunity to make an afternoon visitContinue reading “Beyond birds: Butterflies and other flying creatures abound”

No matter how you pronounce it, the bobolink is a cool bird

The bobolinks have been hanging around the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm for the last few weeks, and that’s a reason to rejoice. These long-wandering migrants are partial to grasslands, and the Pole Farm has big fields well-suited for them. The first bobolink I saw this season came in late May, a female or possibly aContinue reading “No matter how you pronounce it, the bobolink is a cool bird”

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”

Recommended bird feeder: The Squirrel-Buster Plus

Throughout time, Man and Squirrel have uneasily co-existed in a Hegelian dialectic battle for supremacy in controlling access to bird feeders. It is a noble struggle for both creatures, thesis and antithesis, with the fortunes of the birds hanging in the balance. We first got serious about feeding the birds about 10 years ago whenContinue reading “Recommended bird feeder: The Squirrel-Buster Plus”

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”

Doing my part on Global Big Day 2022

This was my first year of formal birding on Global Big Day, and I’m pleased to report that I logged 45 species at five locations and added four birds to my life list. I started the day at my favorite spot, the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm near home. I counted 28 species on a grayContinue reading “Doing my part on Global Big Day 2022”

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”

Howdy from Texas — they have birds here

The great-tailed grackles are out in force here in the Brazos Valley of Texas, and it almost seems as if they outnumber the bluebonnets and other wildflowers blooming in spectacular clusters along the highways I drove from Houston airport to College Station. What starlings are to many areas of the country, the great-tails are toContinue reading “Howdy from Texas — they have birds here”