Julie McCall reports: "Today turned out to be a good birding day at DeKorte Park and adjacent Disposal Road. The snowstorm and its results cancelled a prior engagement I had and freed me up to go to a program at the NJ Meadowlands Environmental Center, in which a naturalist from the Catskills came to do a family-oriented talk on raptors and reptiles.
(I got up close and personal looks at a Red-tailed Hawk, a Turkey Vulture, a Peregrine Falcon, a Harris Hawk, and a Eurasian Eagle Owl, as well as a corn snake and a young alligator.)
I birded on my way in and on my way out, and the results were pleasing, including the Northern Shrike and a Bald Eagle.
In the "Hooray he's still here/Oh my goodness, will he never leave?" department:
– I had the Northern Shrike on different parts of Disposal Road around noon, and again around 3:45. At my first sighting, he was in a treetop way over almost at the recycling center, singing and generally making a fuss. Later, I observed him on the DeKorte side of Disposal Road with two pleasant birders from Manhattan.
– We were distracted from the shrike by a Bald Eagle soaring over the landfill, and when we looked back, the shrike had moved. We saw him once or twice more, and then he was gone.
– The Manhattanites moved on, but doubled back a short time later to tell me and some Essex County birders that they watched a startled Redtail drop a very recently deceased rabbit. The rabbit was caught up in the trees and the shrike moved in for a snack. They said the shrike snacked a little and then quickly moved on, but the Essex Cty. birders and I went to that area to see if anything exciting would happen.
– We found the rabbit hanging upside-down (no dignity in death), observed in the area for maybe 30 minutes. Some exciting things did happen, but none of them involved the rabbit or the shrike.
In the "Please let it be spring already/Keeping hopes up everywhere" department:
– Red-winged Blackbirds were increasingly present along Disposal Road. I had my first close-up looks with binoculars at the females, which I find to be stunningly pretty. How many blackbirds were there? I'd guesstimate several dozen, which is much better than last weekend, when I saw about four. I tried to shake a stick at them, but could not, no matter how I tried.
– A definite increase in the number of American Robins. Again, several dozen.
– The aforementioned Bald Eagle flew in over the Teal Pool and adjacent waters, then soared over the landfill for a few minutes.
– Red-tailed Hawks were frequently seen (at least two) on Disposal Road.
– Northern Harriers were also out and about (at least two) on Disposal Road and in the vicinity of the Teal Pool.
– There were also some disputes between Red-tails and Harriers during the afternoon. (This was the excitement near the rabbit's [presumably temporary] resting place.)
– American Tree – seemed to be everywhere I looked today, especially on phrags
– Northern Pintail
– Northern Shoveler
– Common Merganser
– Canada Goose
– Seven Swans A-Flying over Disposal Road.
– I did not get much of a look at the mudflats today, but I did not see the Canvasbacks in their usual spot. They may have simply been further out; tide was low.
– American Crow, Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Downy Woodpecker, European Starling, American Goldfinch, Blue Jay
– plenty of gulls (I will learn them someday; probably well after I learn more warblers and shorebirds)
– at least one of which was a Great Black-backed Gull
It was quite a good showing from the birds, to reward me for leaving the house after contracting cabin fever since Wednesday, and for all the ache-inducing shoveling. The program at the NJMEC was well worth it for the good looks I got at the raptors, all of which were beautiful.