|Ruff, DeKorte Park|
For a change of pace, Shari & I went up to north Jersey with our pal Bob Auster and birded DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands. Shari & I hadn't been there since we lived in Brooklyn (when it was an easier drive) and Bob had never birded it. While most of the birds that are found on the mudflats can be found closer to home, there were a couple of specialties I was hoping for (Least Bittern and Sora) that I missed, though Bob did get a brief look at the bittern.
For the last week or so the park has also had a male Ruff, molting out of breeding plumage. Birding can sometimes be a little like collecting baseball cards--if you already have a Mickey Mantle, you don't need another. We three already had a Ruff down in Heislerville and since this bird was in a restricted area, we weren't too upset if we saw it or not. However, we ran into a birder we knew who was doing a survey in that area and she kindly let us in to see the bird. I have to say that this was far and away the best view of a Ruff I've ever had and also, by far, the best looking one. A lot of times these birds just look like shabby yellowlegs, but this bird had colorful plumage still extant. It was, unfortunately, back lit, so photography was a problem despite it's proximity, but I did manage to digiscope with the iPhone the halfway decent picture above.
Speaking of phones, on Disposal Road (one of the great road names in NJ) we found these relics of pay phones. Bob tried to call in the Ruff to the NJ Rare Bird Hotline, but he wasn't able to get through.
When you don't bird a place often, you're always surprised at what's supposedly rare there. Bob & I had a Caspian Tern fly over us, identified it immediately, and then, when I went to list it in eBird, found that it was a rarity. According to regular there, it isn't all that rare, but was notable. While walking a boardwalk trail that winds through a marsh we heard a Clapper Rail. Again, supposedly rare. Bob also found a Green Heron while we were looking at the Ruff. Not a rare bird there, but one that was passing through on migration. Still, it was a bird we hadn't expected.
My last foray of the month was a more usual trip--my eighth go-round of Brig in the last 31 days. Nothing special there to report; shorebird numbers are increasing and--hurrah--they won't be shutting it down for reconstruction in August as previously threatened. Contractor scheduling conflicts--whoever heard of that? Still, the water levels seem high--whether it is due to all the recent rain or because the water control systems need work is unclear. But the big area by the dogleg, where all the rarities seem to turn up, is, instead of mud and grass, full of water and gulls and geese and not much else.
July was another slow month, with only 7 year birds. I started using up "easy" birds for Bird A Day. If I get through August with the contest it will be an accomplishment. I suppose the biggest highlight of the month was the Red-necked Phalarope at Brig, but I also liked getting birds in Ocean County, like the Brown Pelican on Great Sedge Island and the Lesser Black-backed Gull along the beach at IBSP.
For the month I ticked 127 species all in NJ save for one trip to Central Park in NY.
New Jersey: Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Ocean, Union
New York: New York