Last week I went again and, just by looking at a map (imagine that!) I found the place with no trouble at all--basically I made a left off Route 70 and went 4 1/4 miles on Sooy Place Road. I think part of my problem was that I was reluctant to drive on a road I couldn't pronounce, but now that I know that "Sooy" sounds like a hillbilly calling in his hogs, I'm quite comfortable on the road.
And now that I know where it is and how to get there, I looked it up again on a few map sites--all their directions border on the idiotic--they may be a hundred feet shorter in distance but they are way more complicated than they need to be.
The preserve is truly deep into the Pine Barrens--hundreds of acres of pitch pine and jack oak crisscrossed by fairly wide paths. Going there in early July is probably not the best strategy, but in my 3 times there in the last 6 days--I've been getting really bored walking the same places lately--I've found a nice number of warblers and the place is unfamiliar enough to me that I get that frisson of almost being lost in the woods.
My first trip there on Thursday I saw both Blue-winged Warbler (a new bird for Burlington County) and the always sought-after Hooded Warbler. That trip was cut short by unexpected rain. Sunday, I saw my first Prairie Warbler there. I apparently haven't yet walked on the trail that goes through their habitat, because that's the only one I've seen. I got a little farther that day, but that trip was also cut short, this time because a local power outage made it impossible to close our garage door and Shari had to leave the house.
Today, I was able to explore for over 3 hours. I had seen a list by another birder who used "by the deerhead" as a location. I didn't know if that was a geological formation or an actual dead deer. I asked a Burlington County birder friend of mine about it but it was a mystery to him. Today, I found the deerhead--pictured above it is made out of some kind of soft, solid plastic, and I had passed it on my two previous trips, as had my friend all the times he's been there. No wonder I have problems finding little birds deep in the foliage.
It has been my observation walking in the woods & fields of the Pine Barrens--Whitesbog, Colliers Mills, the Cranberry Bogs, the WMA behind the house--that you are never really that far from a road. You can always hear a car or truck no matter deep in the woods or far out in a bog you are. The Huber Preserve is the first place I've been that I couldn't hear any traffic. Planes yes; they're inescapable especially with McGuire so close. But not an automotive engine in the 3 plus hours I was there.
As I said, summertime is not the ideal time to go here but I will definitely have to make it a go to spot during next year's migration. I also hear from my friend that Red Crossbills are in the area--I may have seen one today, a juvenile, because there was a striped finch that I couldn't place, but I didn't get a look at the beak and I didn't see it that well or that long--those damn leaves!
For my 3 trips I've totaled 29 species. Not very impressive but it takes a while to get to know where the birds are.