Aug 16 2017

Dvoor Farm Event Was For the Birds!

Look! To the skies! It’s a bird…!

(This is part of our continuing series “HLT’s 20 Stories for 20 Years,” where we share, through words, images and audio, information about Hunterdon Land Trust and the places we all love in the Hunterdon County area.)

There’s a special allure to a bird walk. You can explore and discover the wonders of nature; sharpen your senses as your eyes and ears are on high alert for winged wonders; and shift your focus from your daily cares toward a fun pastoral pastime.

On Sunday morning, Juanita Hummel, an avid birder who serves on the board of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society, led a bird walk at the Dvoor Farm which began near the old growth forest before heading toward the Mine Brook Park and circling back toward the barns and our Farmers’ Market. During that time, 20 different species of birds were heard or seen.

A Green Heron (not the one we saw , which flew by rather quickly.)

“The highlights for me were the Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher and the Green Heron along the brook which is an indicator of good water quality supporting the fish that those birds were hunting for,” Hummel said.

Other birds spotted during the walk included: Rock Pigeon, Red-eyed Vireo, Chimney Swift, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Wood Peewee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Turkey Vulture, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, American Goldfinch, Purple Martin, American Robin, Song Sparrow. Gray Catbird, Northern Flicker, Tufted Titmouse and Chickadee.

Participants also saw several species of butterflies including Monarch, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Eastern Tailed Blue and Cabbage White.

Hummel noted that the best time to see the most birds is the period during peak spring migration (April and May).

“We get to see the often-colorful neotropical birds coming up from the south on their way to their breeding grounds in Canada, in addition to those that are returning to nest in the area,” Hummel said. “The males are ready for breeding and all are singing their unique songs, which makes them easy to find and identify.”

But you can see a variety of birds throughout the year.  Hummel said that during the summer months, birders can spot resident breeders and, if you’re there at the right time, may get to see their newly-fledged young trying out their wings.  In the fall and winter, you might observe several species of sparrows and finches down from the northern forests feeding on seeds in the meadows and fields, raptors like northern harriers and merlins cruising above looking for unwary meadow voles, and the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (yes, it’s a real bird!) which migrates south from Canada during the winter.

Mourning Doves at Dvoor Farm.

Hunterdon Land Trust has made a significant effort through the years to create a thriving plant and wildlife habitat on the Dvoor Farm. Even on the day of the bird walk, volunteers from Action Together Hunterdon County were working with Land Steward Stefani Spence to remove invasive Callery pear trees from the meadow off Shields Avenue. HLT’s ceaseless efforts — which have ranged from restoring the wetlands, to planting native trees and much more — is paying dividends.

And the improvements are noticeable to bird lovers who visit the farm.

“The effort to remove and replace invasive non-native plants with natives and to protect native tree saplings and important shrubs like spicebush against deer (and rabbits) is key to improving the habitat and is clearly working,” Hummel said. “It was wonderful  to see the cat-tail marsh with lots of native willows, swamp milkweed and other native plants providing homes and food for frogs, birds and butterflies.  There was a lot of common milkweed, essential to the survival of threatened Monarch butterfly caterpillars and used by other species as well. It’s well on the way to being a wonderful natural oasis in an otherwise highly-developed area.”

We’re planning another bird walk this fall at the Dvoor Farm with Hummel. As soon as we have the details, we’ll let you know. Bring your binoculars — it’ll be a fascinating walk!

Juanita Hummel, avid birder and a board member of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society, chatted about everything from Blue Jays to Blue Herons and Butterflies during Sunday’s walk.

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