What am I talking about? The DVOC birding trip to Lakehurst Naval Air Station to see Upland Sandpipers, of course. Each year, Upland Sandpipers nest in the Jump Circle at Lakehurst because it is one of the only places in NJ that has an expanse of low cropped fields which is the perfect habitat. The only reason that this exists in the middle of the Pine Barrens, is because the military keeps it mowed for parachute jumpers to practice. After all, you wouldn't want the paratroopers to land on pine trees.
If you are old enough, you may have heard the famously chilling radio account of the Hindenburg disaster. You have probably seen the 8mm film footage of the disaster no matter how old you are. Well, guess where that happened? Yep, Lakehurst Naval Air Base. Here is a link to more information www.airships.net/hindenburg/disaster . Here is a photo that I took of the hangar that housed the giant airship. The hangar is enormous.
Once we made it to the Jump Circle, we basically got out of the cars and started looking for our target grassland birds. We were immediately met with flying, singing Upland Sandpipers. These are shorebirds that never see the shore and don't act like shorebirds at all. They soar like hawks and live like songbirds for the most part. The weather was very overcast, so I didn't get a very good photo of any of the "Uppies", which is what the other group members kept calling them.
Upland Sandpiper in flight - terrible photo
Click here to hear the call. It sounds like a construction worker whistling at a pretty girl walking past. Honestly. www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Upland_Sandpiper/sounds
Once the Uppies settled down, the star of the show became this Grasshopper Sparrow who refused to quit singing from this stem despite the wind:
Grasshopper Sparrow close-up
Wind blown from behind. We were all surprised to see yellow on the wings which does not appear in the field guide.
This is the basic habitat that attracts the Upland Sandpiper, Grasshopper Sparrow, Horned Lark and Meadowlark which we also saw on yesterday's trip. Pretty barren, but they all seem to like it.