Date: 6/29/17 3:33 pm
From: David Bernstein <jackstraw1963...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] June Challenge-Union County
Hi folks,

Was looking for something to do as I winged my way across country towards San Francisco. So, with June nearly over, I figured I would write about my experience with the June challenge, a friendly birding competition initially developed in Florida. The competition came about as a way to get birders out of the house and into the heat during a less than exciting birding month. Some of you may have enjoyed Chris Takacs' posts about this-he recorded 121 species in Bergen County last year. By relentlessly birding one county, you can obtain a good snapshot of the birds that call a limited geographical area home.

I took on my home county of Union. I totaled 105 birds. Current competition rules mandate that birds must be seen. Unfortunately, three species, Grasshopper Sparrow, Prothonotary Warbler and Magnolia Warbler were "heard only." Both Warblers were calling from inaccessible spots and the Grasshopper Sparrow was calling in a sensitive area with a limited access, no stopping policy. Oh well.

Highlights were many. Black Skimmers and Least Bittern at Hawk Rise, Hooded Merg in my home town of Berkeley Heights on the Passaic, Bufflehead and Common Loon in Elizabeth, Red throated Loon in Rahway, Black billed Cuckoo and Veery in the Watchung Reservation and Wild Turkey in my backyard.

Misses were plentiful. Brown Thrasher, Yellow billed Cuckoo, the Peregrine at the Union County Courthouse. Hawk Rise did not deliver grassland specialties. No Blue Grosbeak, Kestrel, Bobolink or Dickcissel. Clapper Rails did not return to the Hawk Rise marsh to breed.

I did not look for owls or other species that might go bump in the night.

Summing up, it was great learning experience and I look forward to participating next year. Thanks for reading and good birding.

David S. Bernstein
Berkeley Heights, NJ




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