Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Colliers Mills WMA 9/2--Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker, Success(!) Road, Colliers Mills WMA
One of the my crack-brained theories (you might call it a superstition) I have often promulgated here about birding is that one never sees the bird one is looking for until one has sincerely given up trying to find it. You can't just say you give up and still look for it.

The first time this phenomenon occurred to me was years ago on Martha's Vineyard, when I went back to a spot where the previous day I had seen my first Green Heron. It was my last day on the island and I said aloud, "Well, I guess I won't see that bird again." Immediately a Green Heron flew in.

The last time until today this theory came into play involved a Yellow-breasted Chat at Assunpink.  Today I found a bird I had given up looking for weeks ago.

I didn't need Red-headed Woodpecker for the year, since I saw a few in Ohio, but the last couple of years I have seen them at Colliers Mills. These birds are relatively scarce in New Jersey and always a notable find. Others had found them there, in a spot I hadn't investigated before, so, when after a couple of months searching fruitlessly in the places I had seen them before, I spent another few weeks tramping around the "Dog Training Area" looking for the elusive woodpecker and never found a hint of one. Finally, I gave up and a couple of weeks ago drove down to New Lisbon in Burlington County. I had very precise instructions as to how to find one in an area know on eBird as "4 Mile--Tornado Damage Area."

On the hotspot map it looks as though the area is accessed from a road that leads into some kind of state penal institution where there are No Trespassing signs at the entrance, but you actually have to park your car on the shoulder of Rt 72 and look for utility pole #184. I parked as instructed, right before the New Jersey Department of Corrections sign, found utility pole #185 right next to my car and figured the next pole down would of course be #184. I walked down to that pole. It was numbered #184 1/2. I walked down to the next pole. That was #184. I walked in a little overgrown trail about 200 yards until I couldn't go any further, looked up in the dead trees, saw two nuthatches and was about to give up when a Red-headed Woodpecker appeared out of nowhere. Good. I had my Jersey RHWO.

Today, at Colliers Mills the morning was foggy and the birding was slow. I walked through the woods along Hawkin Road and kept walking around Turnmill Pond, hearing some birds, but seeing hardly anything. When I was behind the state target range I decided to walk right instead of finishing the circle I usually make, just to see if there was anything of interest that way. I found a long path that eventually brought me out to Success Road, just before it goes into the woods, about a quarter of mile away from where I had been parking when I was walking in the dog training area. Starlings were flying overhead. I saw a bird fly to a pine tree that wasn't a starling. I thought maybe Blue Jay. It was, of course, the bird I wasn't looking for.

My camera wasn't on the right settings and the fog didn't help, but I did get one acceptable, documentary photo. I only ask for one good bird a day so I was satisfied with my trudging. I continued down the aptly named Success Road, turned right at Colliers Mills Lake and looked into the north end, which, due to the lack of rain, is turning muddy. I was surprised to find the first Greater Yellowlegs I've ever seen at CM.

I continued up the road, past the power line cut and looked into the first bog and found nothing. I persisted up the road and checked out the second bog and found it fully of lily pads but birdless. Finally, The path I was on separated the two bogs, so I turned around and looked into the north end of the first bog and found, sitting on dead tree trunks, 3 Wood Ducks. Wood Ducks are reliable at Colliers Mills, but sometimes you really have to look hard.

Today's list. Seen and mostly heard.
25 species:
Wood Duck  3     
Turkey Vulture  1
Greater Yellowlegs  1     
Mourning Dove  30
Red-headed Woodpecker  1     N
Red-bellied Woodpecker  5
Downy Woodpecker  1     Heard
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Wood-Pewee  3
Eastern Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  1     Heard
Blue Jay  5     Heard
Tree Swallow  10
Carolina Chickadee  1     Heard
Tufted Titmouse  3
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
American Robin  2
Gray Catbird  15
European Starling  75
Common Yellowthroat  3
Pine Warbler  1
Eastern Towhee  1     Heard
Scarlet Tanager  1
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard
American Goldfinch  2     Heard

No comments:

Post a Comment