Saturday, May 14, 2016

50 Shades of Green and 1 of Black

[The view from Sunrise Mountain Road, Stokes State Forest, Sussex County, NJ, May 11, 2016 at sunrise. 50 shades of green, the wonder of spring on Kittatinny Mountain. The High Point monument at upper right. Click to enlarge.]

Everybody knows I love Cape May, but from early May through early June there is place that eclipses the Cape May birding mecca. That place is Sussex County, NJ, and I feel blessed to have spent a few days in this place recently, visiting my daughter, spending time with a dear friend, and just absorbing the best spring has to offer. Some time ago I wrote that every May is precious, because none of us know how many more Mays we will have. Get out in it, now.

[Indigo Bunting looking over his holdings, photographed from the same spot as the one above,]

[Ironically, the very first bird I detected on Sunrise Mountain Road was a Cape May Warbler, namesake of my home county.]

God, there are a lot of birds in Sussex County in spring. I loafed my way through a morning, and eBird tells me I encountered 91 species. The volume of song is intense, courtship and nest building is everywhere.

[This Ovenbird was so intent on gathering nesting material for her nest along Sunrise Mountain Road that she literally walked over my foot. Couldn't get that shot, camera doesn't focus that close. . . ]

[Red Trillium, magenta variety, Sunrise Mountain Road.]

[Chestnut-sided Warbler, Stokes State Forest. A few more shades of green . . .]

[Blue-winged-ish warbler, Stokes. The size of the wing patch suggests a long ago backcross with Golden-winged Warbler.]

[Black. This dude came off the Kittatinny to get between me and my truck, 20 yards away, along the Old Mine Road. It was an interesting conversation: "Dude, I'm having such a nice few days off and now I have to fight a bear with a pair of Zeiss binoculars?" It ended well for both of us. Go in peace.]

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, meaning Cape May, migration has been excellent. Duh, it's May.

[NOT expected in May: Snow Bunting, Cape May Point State Park.]

[This guy tied into a fish to big for his britches. Bald Eagle,  Heislerville, Cumberland County, NJ, last weekend.]

[Cerulean Warbler is so rare in Cape May County that it is not on the basic eBird Cape May checklist. Nonetheless, two were singing along Frank's Road in Belleplain State Forest last weekend. Got this photo, and several other birders were able to track them down, which I am glad for - helps with the "street cred."]

[With all the recent rain, the impoundments at Heislerville were full, which forced shorebirds to roost on the dikes at high tide, here mainly Semipalmated Sandpipers.]

[Least Sandpiper doing its best to keep its feet dry in the flooded impoundmdents, Heislerville, NJ.]

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