On Thursday evening, I received word from Marianne Ofenloch that she had a Yellow-breasted Chat along the Appalachian Trail, off the Canal Road bike path in Vernon Township, New Jersey. I tried for the bird on Friday after work and ran into Marianne while I was there. The bird was heard for sure, and we were actually contemplating the possibility of there being two chats; there seemed to be one calling from either side of the trail, but the calls were never close enough together to be 100% sure there were two birds rather than the one moving around. Since I never got a look at that bird, I went back this morning to try for it again, in spite of the steady rain that was falling. Once again the bird was heard but not seen. At a couple of points, I could hear the bird, no more than 25 feet in front of me, but it stayed hidden from view! This is what I should have expected from a chat; I should have known it would not be as easy as when I went to Hopeland Sanctuary in Staatsburg for my lifer YBCH. On Friday morning, while I was working (poor me, ha ha!), Linda Scrima and Maria Loukeris went for the chat and had great success, as witnessed by the super photograph of the bird at the top of this post, provided by Linda.
It’s worth mentioning that this is a really good birding spot. In my two visits this weekend I had a total of 41 different species. The trail has a very wild and lush feel to it, but with enough open spaces to allow for good bird viewing and photographing. I am putting it on my list of places to frequent. Highlights included a pair of Yellow-billed Cuckoos that I was just a little slow on the draw for photos, a Scarlet Tanager family which included a young Brown-headed Cowbird, and Blue-winged Warblers. I should also mention that on Thursday Marianne also had a Golden-winged Warbler there.