Mariton: Birders

May 22, 2012

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

(Watching a Tanager by Erich Boenzli)

Our Tuesday Bird Walk took us to Musconetcong Gorge, a trail of the Hunterdon County Parks in New Jersey.  We had a great morning on this trail.  Yes, it was wet, rugged and steep, but we were eye level with several of the birds that we  saw.

We got great looks at a Black and White Warbler, a Baltimore Oriole, a Red-eyed Vireo, and a Scarlet Tanager.  We heard a Louisiana Waterthush and an Acadian Flycather.  We also heard lots of Worm-eating Warblers, Eastern Wood Peewees, Wood Thrushes and Ovenbirds.

A standard joke for birders is:  “What do you think the birds think when they look down at us?”  Erich Boenzli took some great photos of our group that capture that joke.  Above is a photo Erich took of me directing Jim’s view to the Scarlet Tanager.

To help someone find a bird in the forest, one uses all sorts of landmarks like the crooked branch, or the skinny tree, or that twig all by itself.  It makes more sense when you are standing behind someone to direct them to that one crooked branch out of a thousand crooked branches in the forest, but it still sounds hillarious.  It never fails, that as soon as someone finally locates the bird (based on incomprehensible directions), that the bird flies away.  Usually, it flies away never to be seen again, but sometimes it flies onto a bare branch in the open that a random passerby could look up and spot. Truthfully, that’s part of the charm and the challenge.   When you get a great look at that Scarlet Tanager (or a Red-eyed Vireo for that matter) it is rewarding, and you walk away saying:  “Now, that was worth the price of admission.”