Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Celery Farm 9/20--Olive-sided Flycatcher

Defunct Tractor
Photos: Shari Zirlin
Shari & I have always wanted to explore The Celery Farm, a refuge in the Bergen County exurbia that once actually produced an impressive amount of celery, but never got there when we lived relatively close in Brooklyn. Now that it is exactly 100 miles from where we live, we decided to go, prodded by the prospect of being guided there by Rob Fanning, who knows the place like it is his own backyard. Rob was leading a trip for the Monmouth County Audubon Society but they were fine with us Ocean County interlopers.

It is probably the easiest place I've ever been to see Wood Ducks. Usually these ducks skulk in hard to find places in among the reeds and other vegetation and you're lucky to see a couple. Today there were at least 10, out in the open. Though this is the time of year Wood Ducks are mostly in "eclipse" there were a couple of full breeding plumage males. The most beautiful duck in the North America.

It is also a good place to see raptors. Not in great abundance, as at a hawk watch (where they look like fly specks and pepper) but one or two birds, fairly low, affording great looks. The pond also is good habitat for shorebirds, including an  9 Pectoral Sandpipers, an unusually large number for the area & date. There was a flock of peeps there too, but even with Rob's scope I had to let them go as "spuhs" ("sp" = "spuh"="species").

But the "bird of the day" came toward the end of the trip when Stephanie Seymour found a bird high in a tree's bare branches. Unfortunately we were looking both into the sun and into what ballplayers call a "high sky," but we narrowed the bird down to a flycatcher and then Rob put it into his scope and figured out that it was an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a hard to find bird. When I first saw the bird I noted the white patch, but I couldn't run through my mental database of field marks fast enough to get an idea for an i.d. This is only the 3rd time I've encountered this bird--first in California, then last year in Ohio and finally, I have it on my NJ list. The photo, taken under adverse conditions and greatly cropped and enlarge should in no way be taken as an example of Shari's photography skills.

For the day I had 35 species. I should mention that I got inordinately excited about the Black-capped Chickadee I saw near the outset of the trip. It's a very common bird--if you're north of I-195, which I rarely am.

Canada Goose  27
Wood Duck  10
American Black Duck  1
Mallard  30
Green-winged Teal  5
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  1
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  2
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  2
Red-tailed Hawk
Lesser Yellowlegs  8
Pectoral Sandpiper  9     Exact count. 
peep sp.  20
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
Downy Woodpecker  2
Northern Flicker  1
American Kestrel  1
Olive-sided Flycatcher  1
Eastern Phoebe  1
Warbling Vireo  1     Heard, briefly
Blue Jay  5
American Crow  3
Black-capped Chickadee  3
House Wren  1     Heard
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
American Robin  1
Gray Catbird  10
Common Yellowthroat  1     Pirie obs deck
Palm Warbler  2
Northern Cardinal  4
American Goldfinch  10

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