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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Adrian Binns

September 4, 2004 (Saturday)
Johnson Sod Farm, Cumberland County, NJ


There were probably more participants than birds at Johnson Sod Farm this morning, but we did get a few good species. Parked on Griers Lane the telegraph wires held at least a thousand Tree Swallows along with 2 Purple Martins while a few Barn Swallows flew low over the sod fields as did a young male Northern Harrier. We were here for the ‘grass-pipers’ and began with 2 Upland Sandpipers working their way away from us along a ridge of grass between sod fields and followed that with 2 more seen as they briefly appeared over the ridge in a plowed field. Up to 9 American Golden Plovers were also there along with at least 1 Black-bellied Plover, a dozen Killdeer and good numbers of Mourning Doves. There could well have been more but there was no way for us to see what was over the ridge. Several Horned Larks were about though we had better looks on Olivet Road where a dozen or so were feeding in a newly seeded field along with half a dozen Rock Pigeons. The big surprised was a Whimbrel that was calling as it came in to land for a couple of minutes in a bare field. We watched it as it flew away, calling all the time, and then circling in the distance before going out of sight.

On a tip that Baird’s Sandpipers had been seen a week ago, we went to the Bent Grass (think Golf Greens and Tees) fields on Forrest Lane, near Featherbed Lane. Several Least and a few more Semipalmated Sandpipers were about as where small numbers of Semipalmated Plovers. We could not locate any Baird’s though there were as many as a half dozen Pectoral Sandpipers. Having spent a while scanning through the large numbers of birds, though a great many were Killdeer along with Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls, we decided to call it a day once something got all the birds up. Was it the distant Cooper’s Hawk? By the time they settled back down most people had left and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper was located after a thorough scan. A few calls were made to those cell phone numbers we had and in the end over half the group got to see the bird.

~ Adrian Binns


Images by Bert Filemyr