Date: 7/6/18 3:40 am
From: CHELEMER, MARC J <mc2496...>
Subject: [JERSEYBI] Black-billed Cuckoo--6, Wild-eyed Birder--0 [Long Post]

It is an oft-quoted (but incorrectly attributed) statement of Albert Einstein that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again but expecting different results. By the measure of that statement, I am out of my mind.

Sunday morning July 1 found me in the Pequannock Watershed, visiting the long trail which winds up the hill from P-8 on Stephens Road, and then sojourning for a short while at the powerline cut on Van Orden Road afterwards. On July 4th, I went back to the watershed, this time to Paradise Road and a roughly 4 mile round trip walk NNE/SSW from parking area P1N on Clinton Road. These were my fifth and sixth visits to the general area since mid-May. While numerous colorful, beautifully-voiced birds are found in the watershed, I have in particular been looking or listening for a Black-billed Cuckoo, a species which has graced many other birders' lists from this area during this time. Not mine. Fumf!

Both were fine birding mornings: I saw an adult Worm-eating Warbler offering food to its fledged juvenile. A "spit-cheeeing" Acadian Flycatcher flew right into my binocular's view as I scanned for it-thank you very much! On two separate occasions, Louisiana Waterthrushes came to check me out, sitting within 10 feet, bobbing their tails and chipping away. A Hermit Thrush offered its haunting, ethereal songs out of the deep woods (clear enough for a recording). On Paradise Road, I heard the distinct "yenk yenk yenk" of a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and enjoyed a long observation of a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The light was perfect; its iridescent throat feathers flashed just perfectly as it scanned its surroundings from a perch. Up the red-and-white trail starting from P1N, there was a Cerulean Warbler singing quietly! I even heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. But no Black-billed. Fumf again.

There were exciting non-avian observations, too: On the trail from Stephens Road, I encountered a five-foot Black Racer, gliding sinuously away from where it had been resting close to the trail. On Paradise Road, I came upon a young Black Bear snacking on berries along the powerline cut, the very first bear I've ever encountered in all my years of birding. Incredible! Then, 20 minutes later, near the P1N trailhead, TWO Black Bears, a cub and its mother, picked their way slowly across the trail about 250 feet in front of me. I snapped a photo of the mother, but only her bulk was visible in the shot, her face hidden by leaves and trees. Nevertheless, THREE Black Bears in one day, after a lifetime of none!

Over the course of my visits, I tallied 69 species, including 14 species of warblers!

Growing more wild-eyed and disheveled day by day, I now plan to venture to other areas where BBCUs have been reported. Perhaps some generous reader of this listserv knows of a nesting location that is publicly accessible...

Good birding,

Marc Chelemer

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