(Click on the photo for a larger image.)
The above photo is of one of the most confiding Scarlet Tanagers this observer can remember seeing. This male was asking to be photographed, oblivious to nine Homo sapiens nearby at the Saffin Rock-Rill section of Mahlon Dickerson Reservation.
A New Jersey Audubon All Things Birds field trip was led today by yours truly. Eight enthusiastic participants experienced the best of Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson Township. Some of the participants continued with a side trip to Weldon Brook WMA in Sparta Township, Sussex County in the afternoon.
Pink Azalea (Rhododendron nudiflorum) is currently at its gorgeous peak, surrounding the ponds at Mahlon Dickerson Reservation.
Pink Lady’s Slipper was found on the forest floor in the “north woods”.
A Bullfrog seemed at ease on a comfortable mat of moss at the Saffin Rock-Rill section of the reservation.
The birds were the main attraction. All of the expected species are in their place, busy with the endeavor of reproducing. Thanks to Rob Gallucci for sharing the following photo he took this afternoon of the Cerulean Warbler on the path next to Saffin Pond. In the morning, the Cerulean played hard to get for awhile but finally gave the entire group great looks for an extended period of time.
Least Flycatchers finally returned to Mahlon this week. One was incessantly vocal in the usual place this species appears every year, along the yellow-blazed trail of the Saffin Rock-Rill pond. A very well-fed Black Bear across the pond created a brief distraction from the repetitive chebek-chebek-chebek song of the Least Flycatcher.
Lots of breeding activity was witnessed: courtship, nest building, copulation and nesting. A Wood Thrush nest was carefully and respectfully observed.
The Pine Swamp trail has two Acadian Flycatchers. One was studied at length by all of the observers. A Northern Waterthrush was in its usual place but Canada Warblers were strangely silent. They are breeders here most years. Two Hooded Warblers were heard, with one seen very briefly by some.
Yellow-billed Cuckoos were noticeable, being seen and heard. Before the group of birders convened in the morning, a Black-billed Cuckoo was observed at Saffin Rock-Rill; at the same time, an Alder Flycatcher sang a definitive fee-BEE-o three times before vanishing.
A side trip to nearby Sussex County’s Weldon Brook WMA accessed via Pascoe Road produced the usual bounty of Prairie, Chestnut-sided and Blue-winged Warblers, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhees, etc. A warbler with a yellow cap, dark mask, gray back and sides and yellowish tinged wings flew into view raising everyone’s excitement – until it was determined to be a Brewster’s Warbler hybrid.
A Yellow-breasted Chat spent the spring and early summer here in 2015. This year, it looks as if an herbicide was applied to a large swatch of trees and vegetation under the power lines, destroying any chance of a return of the Chat to the same locale.
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