Zirlin's Second Law of Birding, which states that "You will never see the bird you want until you have truly given up on seeing it," was demonstrated again today.
I spent a number of hours last month at Colliers Mills looking for Red-headed Woodpecker. I know they're there, I just have had no luck. On Saturday, I took a run down into Burlington County to a site that historically has the woodpeckers known as 4 Mile Tornado Damage which is around the New Lisbon Developmental Center, a state facility which means I'm not supposed to be there anyway but someone else had one there that day but I struck out and didn't feel comfortable, not knowing exactly where trespassing began. There's a path into the wood around there where I once had one but I didn't have time to explore.
Yesterday, discussing all this with my friend on the Wildlife Drive with Brig, he told me that he'd been looking in the same area and that the path I'd taken was too overgrown to walk on anymore. He had no luck in the trails around that area either and was also ware of encroaching on state land.
BUT. He did have one on Sooy Place Road which is the road where the entrance to the Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve is located. He said maybe a quarter mile up the road from the entrance. I went there this morning, figuring I'd at least get a walk in the reserve. I walked Sooy Place Road for 7/10 of a mile ("Sooy" is an ancient Pine Barrens family name) and while I had a few interesting birds like cuckoo and thrasher, I did not see the woodpecker. At one dead tree in front of a tree farm I heard drumming but even though I circled the tree I couldn't find the source. I had the feeling it was the woodpecker but I wasn't going to list one on the basis on drumming. Voice yes: they make a distinctive "queer" cry. But drumming? Come on.
So I gave up, turned around and walked 1.7 miles in Huber where, along with 20 species of birds, I picked off from my shoes, socks, and permethrin-treated pants 42 ticks of the Lone Star and Deer variety, which must be some sort of record. (Note to hikers: Deer Ticks really like shoelaces.) I got back to the car, made a thorough tick-check and drove back toward Route 70, slowly. When I was just about up to the tree farm property I looked at the top of the dead tree and boom--a Red-headed Woodpecker with all the field marks--red head, black body, white rump--flew off the top, across the road and into the woods. No photo opportunity of course, but I got the bird, #250 for NJ and #300 for the year.
The walk through Huber was not without its satisfactions--there is still plenty of warbler activity in there and I saw them all aside from the Prothonotary Warbler which was a heard only at the red bridge.
Turkey Vulture 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1 Heard Yellow Trail
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee 3 Heard
Great Crested Flycatcher 1
White-eyed Vireo 2 Heard
Carolina Chickadee 2 Heard
Tufted Titmouse 3
White-breasted Nuthatch 2 Heard
Carolina Wren 1 Heard entrance
Wood Thrush 2 Heard
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Prothonotary Warbler 1 Heard Bridge
Common Yellowthroat 5
Hooded Warbler 2
American Redstart 1 Yellowstart
Pine Warbler 3
Prairie Warbler 6
Eastern Towhee 5