I’m three weeks into my Big Green Year—my attempt to see as many birds in one year using only environmentally responsible transportation. I’m already up to 100 species. Besides birds I’ve encountered just walking and biking around the city, I’ve take several trips.
I carpooled with my father and two other buddies up to North Jersey for Snowy Owl, a rare visitor from the Arctic, and a Chaffinch, a vagrant bird from Europe. This could be Jersey’s first record of a Chaffinch, if accepted. In each state there are rare bird committees who may determine the bird is an escaped cage bird rather than one way off course migration—known in the bird world as a “vagrant”. Birding is so often about chasing vagrants, often with only one person in a car. So instead, we carpooled and lined up a bunch of vagrants to get maximum bang for our gas.
On the way back from North Jersey we picked up a Say’s Phoebe in Bucks County, a vagrant from the western U.S., and a Clay-colored Sparrow in Pennypack Park, a vagrant from the Midwest. We finished the day at FDR Park in South Philly for a Cackling Goose, also a western vagrant. These were all previously reported birds.
Another trip was to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in my friend’s work hybrid. He had to go to this part of Jersey to pick up snakes from a colleague for environmental education programs, so we able to add some birding to his trip. We picked up many species of duck, which are just now moving south in numbers due to our mild winter. Forsythe is a place I’ll visit many times during my year as I can bike to it from the Absecon New Jersey Transit train station.