Date: 3/10/17 8:27 am
From: CHELEMER, MARC J <mc2496...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] Great Swamp / Pleasant Plains Road on a snowy day

Having once plonked my car right into a ditch along Pleasant Plains Road in the Great Swamp during a snowstorm (to give a wide berth to a photographer taking a picture of a Barred Owl...long story, great ending), I remembered how beautiful and surprisingly birdy the road can be when it's cold and snowing. So, on my way to work today, I stopped to visit.

The gate at the north end was locked so I walked in. Good fortune. At the first "ditch" once across the bridge, a surprisingly unconcerned Wilson's Snipe foraged in the puddles, and provided the chance to observe for as long as I wanted. Those back stripes are really something! In the woods beyond the Overlook, my quiet "spishing" brought out what seemed to be the entire population of winter passerines: At least a dozen titmice, half a dozen chickadees, a couple of Brown Creepers, a few White-breasted Nuthatches, and some Golden-crowned Kinglets materialized out of the snowy trees to chip, tweet, sing, and buzz at this dark-olivey human standing, white capped, in the middle of the road.

Further down, right at the corner, a pretty twittering sound made me carefully scan the nearby treeline. Eventually, I managed a look at a one of the small birds: lots of streaks and a bright white eyestripe on a peaked head: Purple Finch! A flock of at least fifty birds was moving back and forth amongst a few flowering trees, gobbling up whatever was edible. Nearby, a small pond held five Wood Ducks, including three bright and gaudy males.

By the time I got back to the car, the gate had been opened and I drove along PP Road towards the south. Dozens of juncos and sparrows leaped off the roadside, while a lone and grumpy-looking Merlin perched atop its favorite dead tree to the east of the road a bit of a ways south of the Bluebird lot.

Thirty species during the snowy hour and fifteen minutes. As always, "the Swamp" revealed its bird life slowly and languorously, but the walk, wet hair, and cold hands were a small price to pay for the nice views in the wintery solitude.

Good birding,

Marc Chelemer

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