Back when the Le Conte's Sparrows showed up in a field along the Cohansey River (on private property, as it turns out), I commented that the Cohansey River watershed in northern Cumberland County is one of the best least-birded places in NJ. I have a sense that no one goes there regularly. It's not mentioned in Bill Boyle's book Guide to Bird Finding in NJ. Pat and Clay Sutton didn't go that far north in their Birds and Birding at Cape May. But please, get yourself a county map and go exploring. There's Dix WMA on the south side, and public PSEG lands on both north and south sides of the river to seek out, and plenty of roadside birding, too. NJA's Birding and Wildlife Trails Program has a site guide to cover some of the area, but someone, someday, should do an exhaustive bird-finding guide to the whole Cohansey River watershed.
Yesterday, for the third year running, I canvassed the Cohansey during the annual Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey. Yes, we found eagles - 23 of them - but, even without much time to properly bird, 55 other species wound up on the eBird checklist. We didn't stay until dark, but having been in this area for CMBO's annual Winter Marsh Raptor survey, I have no doubt Short-eared and Great-horned Owls would have been added if we had tried for them. I've posted our list for the day on the Field Trip Reports page; below are some photo highlights.
[Some of the meadowlarks fed in association with Snow Goose flocks, benefitting from the bare ground exposed by the hordes of grazing geese. Burrowing into the recesses of ecological training, this behavior would be considered commensalism, where one organism benefits from another without affecting the other organism positively or negatively. Note the family group of geese on the snow in this photo; geese migrate as family units. Note also how the juveniles are beginning to acquire pure white back feathers.]
[Eastern Meadowlark flight profile. Plumage is distinctive, particularly the tail pattern, but so is the silhouette and flight style: stocky, pot-bellied, hump-backed, pointy-faced, with short triangular wings and flight of shallow, sputtering wingbeats followed by glides with wings held open. Sounds like I'm calling the bird names, but the parts add up to a delightful package! Click to enlarge.]