Saturday, December 22, 2007

December 22 - Great Swamp NWR

Late this morning, I stopped here on my way home because I was looking for a year-bird in the Red-Headed Woodpecker.
Earlier this year, in October, I had missed the bird here by just a few seconds. So, when I found myself in the area again I decided to give it another try. My decision was made easier based on the recent reports of other birds seen here. Those birds being Rough-legged Hawk, Short- Eared Owl and the near annual Northern Shrike.

Almost immediately I was able to locate the sub-adult woodpecker in some dead trees just up the road from the Herony parking lot. I got some nice scope looks of the bird as it fed and took some short flights. It was good to make up for the near-miss from earlier in the year.
photo credit: Marie Winn

Walking back to my car I ran into some friends, (John and his son Marcus, along with Chris and his wife Linda) and was able to tell them about the woodpecker. They reciprocated by giving me the details of where the other birds had been seen.

On my way out of the Swamp I stopped at where the other birds had been seen. While searching for the birds, I was fortunate to have the Northern Shrike fly past me going from right to left. I was only able to get some quick looks at the bird before it went out of sight.
Scanning the trees and fields once again, this time I was successful in locating the Rough-Legged hawk. This bird was a light-morph. The view was not great as the bird was deep in the trees and facing away. Oh well, that's birding sometimes !

Nevertheless, for me it was great to see all three of these specialties, particularly since little effort was needed. And adding what will likely be my final year bird seen in New Jersey in 2007, the Red-Headed Woodpecker was a true bonus.
That bird is species number 283 for the State in 2007, and number 302 for the ABA Northeastern Region this year. This is the first time I've cracked the 300-annual bird milestone in the region !