Mariton: A Worthwhile Road Trip for Birds
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager. Photos by Marilyn Hessinger.
Our weekly bird walks went to northern New Jersey to a special place that I always love to visit. We weren’t disappointed this time. As soon as we got on the trail, we saw American Redstarts. In fact, we got to see a female collecting spider webs and building her nest. Talk about a special treat. I could have left right then, after an hour’s drive to get there, completely contented. I lost count of all the Redstarts that we saw on our walk.
That wasn’t even the highlight! Down the trail I heard a thrush singing. I knew it wasn’t something I was used to hearing. A quick check of the recordings and we knew it was a Swainson’s Thrush. About the time that was determined, someone asked me to identify a bird standing on a rock a dozen feet from the trail. It was a Swainson’s Thrush! It stood there and turned to give us a look from all angles. Everyone got to see it clearly and everyone agreed it was indeed a Swainson’s. It was thrilling to get such a good look at this species, but we saw more during the day.
With all the Redstarts and Red-eyed Vireos our pace was about 100 yards an hour. The slow pace and checking every movement allowed us to sight a Hooded Warbler and a Bay-breasted Warbler. I was able to get a good look at both species. Then I helped everyone find the birds. And I still had time to focus back and watch them. It was the longest look I have ever had of a Bay-breasted Warbler.
Of course, there were Least Flycatchers. This is one of the Empidonax Flycatchers that are virtually indistinguishable, except for their distinct songs. The Least Flycatcher says “che-BEK”. Sharp eyes even found them on the nest. Other notable sightings were a Blue-headed Vireo and a Five-lined Skink that sunned itself while we were eating lunch.