Date: 10/29/19 11:48 am From: CHELEMER, MARC J <mc2496...> Subject: [JERSEYBI] Fine morning at Great Swamp
I decided to visit the Great Swamp today, starting at the north end of Pleasant Plains Road and traveling the full couple of miles to the southern gate. I stopped Red Rover (now repaired) just about 100 yards in from the main road to check out the upper fields and, within three minutes, had seen or heard (mostly heard) 17 species of birds, including an Eastern Meadowlark (which came up as "rare" on e-Bird ?). That boded well for the rest of the couple of hours I had.
At the Fenske Visitor Center, I walked around the edges of the woods and picked up a first-of-autumn Fox Sparrow, a pair of White-crowned Sparrows, and two brilliantly yellow adult male Pine Warblers. I observed a resourceful Bluebird snag an enormous praying mantis off a bush, then defend its meal against other hungry members of its cohort. A Sharp-shinned Hawk kept up a quiet vigil, made a couple of half-hearted hunting forays, and squabbled with a squirrel over perching rights on a particular branch. The squirrel won. I think birds must know when a Sharpie is really hunting, as another Bluebird sat defiantly on the most exposed spot possible while the Sharpie flew right by it. Five Rusty Blackbirds squeaked their hinges atop a dead tree as well; they're back! Robins continued everywhere: in the sky, on the ground, in the trees...they were ubiquitous.
There was also a group of about a dozen Chipping Sparrows, but none looked like a Clay-colored (the lighting was poor at best). I'd encountered good sized flocks of Chipping Sparrows on Sunday and last Wednesday as well in other places; no CCSP among them either. Darn. That species continues, year after year, to be the hardest "designer" sparrow for me to observe.
Heading down to the Overlook, I found a lone Junco, more sparrows, and was treated to the grunting of a Virginia Rail in the marsh. Further down PP Road, there was a lone Towhee. I did not see or hear some expected birds: GB Heron, RT Hawk, BC Chickadee, waxwing, Phoebe, but ten species of sparrows and kin, plus the nice mix of all the other fall denizens, added up to 40 species for the two hour visit. A fine misty morning, with the fall foliage providing a quiet riot of colors, even in the subdued light.