Saturday, January 23, 2010

Alpha, Warren, Trenton - Jan 23rd

I started at Oberly Road in Alpha, at the central-western edge of NJ, around 9am and found very little. No snow to push the birds to the roadside, and in any event two people walking down the road would have undone all of that. I saw a few Eastern Bluebirds and one or two Horned Larks and that was it. An inauspicious start to the day.

Heading east, I stopped off at Hoffman (Farm) Park - this is a site I've regularly seen Bobolink and Grasshopper Sparrow in during summer, but it was also very quiet in winter. I stayed there less than 30 minutes and there was a dearth of sparrow activity.

In danger of getting skunked I went 25 miles further east to Glenhurt Meadows (aka Warren Green Acres). Around the parking lot there were two singing House Finches, a few Song Sparrows and a couple of Swamp Sparrows. Northern Flickers milled around. I hiked down to the river - much of the standing water here was frozen although there were dramatic sound effects as it was slowly melting and crashing. En route to the Raritan River I came accross a Common Grackle flock with a Red-winged Blackbird and two Rusty Blackbirds within it, just passing down the edge of the powerline cut. And then after a little searching I did come up with two Red-headed Woodpeckers - one adult and one unseen. Red-bellied Woodpecker was also present. Although not epic in activity it was a good find after the dearth of birds at the other two sites. One especially vocal Blue Jay was doing a very good Red-tailed Hawk impersonation.

Finally I tracked back down to Princeton and went to Hamilton-Trenton Marsh, ostensibly for more Rusty Blackbirds - which I didn't find. However the water was only partly frozen so there was a decent number of waterfowl, including Mallard, Gadwall, Am. Black Duck, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Common Merganser and numerous Ring-billed Ducks. Most of the waterfowl were on the most westerly lake viewed from the wet woods. They were also not entirely happy to see me with quite a lot of vocal nervousness even without me reaching the edge of the tree line. Of the several crows present most of them were American although two let out Fish Crow-like calls - however American can do a pretty good impersonation of this as well. A few White-throated Sparrows rounded out the day.

In more forgiving conditions (less ice) I think it's possible to hike along the southern bank of the Raritan here back as far as the arboretum.

Directions to Warren Green Acres / Glenhurst Meadows (since I often have time finding them): I-78 at exit 36, south on King George Rd perhaps half a mile and then left (east) on Mountain Ave just before the road heads uphill. Mountain Ave curls over the interstate, passes Wagner Farm Arboretum, past 3 houses and then there is an unmarked driveway on the left (north side of the road) opposite a small pond. This is the parking area. Street address is 178 Mountain Ave but on the north side of the road (Google marks is to the south).

Link to google maps.

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