Some days, the birding gods smile upon us

One-third of the way through my “Big Month,” it’s time to assess my progress. Having set 60 as a “reach” goal, I find I have a legitimate shot. Yesterday was a particularly encouraging day. I headed out to the Pole Farm, hoping to find one of the “should have” birds, the common grackle. I wasContinue reading “Some days, the birding gods smile upon us”

Five days in, my ‘Big Month’ takes shape

Last night I finished reading the “Big Year” book on which the movie of the same title was based. I’m comfortable in reporting that I am not quite as obsessively crazed as the three competitors on whom the story is based who each sighted more than 700 species of birds in 1998. It was onContinue reading “Five days in, my ‘Big Month’ takes shape”

A walk in the woods with the experts

I was back at the Pole Farm this morning as I often am on weekend mornings, but this time I wasn’t going solo. I was a last-minute substitute for a friend on a Washington Crossing Audubon Society guided walk, and what a treat it was. About 20 birders assembled at the Cold Soil Road parkingContinue reading “A walk in the woods with the experts”

One great bird: the Northern harrier

Four birds with “Northern” in their name are regular visitors in my part of New Jersey. The Northern cardinal is ubiquitous at home, and the Northern mockingbird and Northern flicker are regulars in the neighborhood. But the most thrilling of all is the Northern harrier. To find a harrier, all I need to do isContinue reading “One great bird: the Northern harrier”

Who are those guys? Lessons from the backyard bird count

The Great Backyard Bird Count was on last weekend, and I did my part, logging all the familiar birds that visit regularly. But there was one trickster in the mix, and it took me a while to figure out that this particular bird breed had fooled me once again. On Sunday morning, I logged inContinue reading “Who are those guys? Lessons from the backyard bird count”

My little friends, the sparrows

Until I started taking a more serious interest in birding, to me a sparrow meant the ubiquitous house sparrow. A passer domesticus, rarely alone, was always at the feeders when I was a kid growing up in Ohio. Years later, I marveled at how the house sparrows thrived amid the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan, flittingContinue reading “My little friends, the sparrows”

In praise of the not-quite-so-early birder

Most of my morning birding walks are at dawn or even slightly ahead of it, typically a convergence of my believing the birds are most active when they wake up and my needing to get home and get ready for work. Even on the weekends and especially on Saturdays, I stick to the same earlyContinue reading “In praise of the not-quite-so-early birder”

Giving Thanks for a New Bird: The American Tree Sparrow

The only thing that can top the thrill of spotting a new bird for your life list is knowing that you have a nice image of that bird saved on your camera. I was on the way back to my car about 8:30 this morning along one of my regular routes at the Mercer MeadowsContinue reading “Giving Thanks for a New Bird: The American Tree Sparrow”

A refuge near (and from) the Motor City

Since my daughter and her family moved to Michigan, during the handful of drives I’ve taken up Interstate 75 to visit I spotted with curiosity the signs for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. Each time I drove past, I made a mental note to arrange to stop the next chance I’d get. I gotContinue reading “A refuge near (and from) the Motor City”

Man in the Limberlost: A side trip to Indiana

The “Jersey Birder” title of this site notwithstanding, I do venture out of the Garden State on occasion and sneak in a bit of birding as time allows. Last week, I drove to Michigan for some family matters that involved a jaunt to the northeast quadrant of Indiana. I had done some online scouting fromContinue reading “Man in the Limberlost: A side trip to Indiana”