Date: 2/12/18 11:15 am
From: CHELEMER, MARC J <mc2496...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] Rainy Sunday morning

Although it was raining when I arose before dawn yesterday, I decided to go birding anyway, selecting likely locations and species for whom wet weather wouldn't be an issue. First was "Waterloo Lakes," a meandering portion of the Musconetcong River in the northwest corner of Morris County that I had never been to. There, for some time, a drake Eurasian Wigeon has been sighted. Ducks shouldn't mind the rain, I thought, and that turned out to be true. The Eurasian Wigeon was visible across the "lake" almost immediately, though I remained in the area for about an hour, enjoying the other ducks (esp. Common Mergansers, which I think are such noble looking birds), a Pied-billed Grebe, and a few passerines.

At this point, the alert came through that "the Gyrfalcon" was perched on a pole near Oberly Road in Alpha, but I was more than an hour away and had a deadline to be back, so decided, fatefully, not to make the chase (I had considered making Alpha my destination when I arose in the morning, but, I asked myself, what self-respecting raptor, accustomed to snows in the high arctic, would sit exposed on a perch in the rain? Clearly, I do not have much of a bird brain.). Instead, I headed for nearby "Alumni Field" in Hackettstown. There were between 6 and 8 Wilson's Snipe, sitting out in the rain, fully exposed, in a depression just at the entrance to the fields (I believe it's part of a fish hatchery). They were particularly striking even in the cloudy conditions. An adult Bald Eagle cruised by, putting up all the ducks, and a Kingfisher rattled loudly as it whooshed down one of the hatchery ponds.

On the way back, I imagined that Rusty Blackbirds, given that they forage on the edge of streams, might not mind a bit of wetness, so I stopped at Troy Meadow to look along the creek (I've seen Rusties there before). Ha! It wasn't "Troy Meadow" but rather "Troy Rice Paddie." The water level was so high in the stream that it was flowing against an iron-grate bridge's underside. There was water everywhere. So: no stream edges to forage through and no Rusties. I would comment that the tall grasses at the "old shooting range" have been completely mowed, so that the area looks more like a field than a meadow right now. That's probably a good thing, as it will allow new growth to emerge.

It was a satisfactory morning: proof that birds don't mind the precipitation, and offering encouragement to get out into the field despite the weather, as birds always provide beauty and inspiration even with grey skies and a wet environment.

Good birding.

Marc Chelemer

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