The First TimeBy
Like every other birder in the mid-Atlantic, I’d been hearing about Allendale’s Celery Farm for years. The name of the place always conjured up an image of wide-open fields and soggy ponds–I don’t know why, exactly, given that I’ve never seen a celery farm, that this one was shut down six decades ago, and that ‘wide-open’ is about the last thing I’d associate with Bergen County anyway. So I shouldn’t have been surprised to pull up this morning and find a big pond surrounded by autumnal foliage and edged in cattails and phragmites. But I was.
The birding was slow-paced and pleasant, with nearly three dozen species eventually making an appearance in the hour and a half it took me to circumambulate the pond. White-throated, Swamp, and Song Sparrows were feeding on the wide, shady paths, flushing at the approach of less stealthy Sunday strollers but soon coming back out to scritch and scratch. One little gang was joined by two brown Purple Finches, another by a lone Pine Siskin (all the others are eating from the feeder outside my window). The tops of the trees were occupied by Eastern Phoebes and Cedar Waxwings, while American Robins and Myrtle Warblers gobbled down the berries along the trails.
Here and there were decaying relics of the site’s celerybrated past. The northwest corner of the pond is overlooked by what I assume is the warden’s house, its garage filled with a much larger, much fancier version of this tracker-tractor and its lawn covered with Palm Warblers. That must be quite a yard list.