Field Trips

Field Trip Institute Woods

Field Trips to local birding “Hot Spots” and beyond

Experienced birders from WCAS lead regular birding field trip to some of the region’s top birding hotspots in Central New Jersey, the Delaware Water Gap, Delaware Bay, the New Jersey shore, and eastern Pennsylvania. Field trips are free, open to the public, and most require no advance registration. Participants of all experience levels are welcome. If there are field trips you would like to see added to WCAS field trip offerings, please feel free to contact us.

For more field trip information, contact our Field Trip Chair, Brad Merritt, 609-921-8964. If the trip is co-sponsored, please note the registration request in the trip description. In case of inclement weather, please check this website or contact Brad for field trip cancellation updates by 10:00 p.m. the night before.

Check our Event Calendar below for details and contact information

  • Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve  A field trip on Saturday, September 28, at 8:00 am led by Sharyn Magee and Brad Merritt. The Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve, 164 acres of grasslands and woodlands in Somerset Co., is home to sensitive species, including the Grasshopper Sparrow, Cooper’s Hawk, American Kestrel (NJ State threatened species), and Eastern Meadowlark (NJ State special concern species). With a variety of bird houses located throughout, we have opportunities to view American Kestrels, Wood Ducks, Bluebirds and Purple Martins. Directions: From 206 at Woods Tavern take 514 East (Amwell Road). From South Middlebush Road, turn onto Skillmans Lane. Entrance on west side of Skillmans Lane, between the two 90-degree curves.
  • Birds of Mercer County Park Central A field trip on Saturday, October 5, at 8:00 am led by Mark Witmer and Brad Merritt. Mercer County Park Central is a 2,500-acre public park with fields, forests, and a 300-acre freshwater lake. We will walk for two to three hours along Lake Mercer. Bring binoculars and a field guide, and dress for the weather. Directions: Enter park from Hughes Drive or Old Trenton Road (Route 535). Meet at the boathouse parking lot. For more information, contact Brad Merritt at 609-921-8964.
  • Fiddler’s Creek Preserve at Baldpate Mountain A field trip on Saturday, October 12, at 8:00 am led by Sharyn Magee and Tyler Christensen. Fiddler’s Creek Preserve is the old Hollystone Farm across Fiddler’s Creek Road from Baldpate Mountain. The main field and hedgerows support numerous species of sparrows during fall migration, making the reserve a hot spot. Directions: From Pennington, go west on Pennington- Titusville Rd and turn right on Bear Tavern Road (Route 579.) Take the first left onto Church Road; then turn right onto Fiddler’s Creek Road. Continue 1.3 miles to the main Baldpate Mountain Preserve parking lot on your right. We will meet here and walk across the road to the Fiddler’s Creek Preserve.
  • Mount Rose Preserve A field trip on Saturday, October 19, at 8:00 am led by Sharyn Magee and Jim Myers. Mount Rose Preserve consists of 387 acres of meadows, shrub land, and forest. On this walk we will be looking for a variety of late fall migrants. With the diversity of habitat, this should be a naturalist’s treat. Directions: From Rosedale Road, turn right on Carter Road and continue approx. 3/4 mile. Entrance to preserve is on the left; meet at parking lot. For more information, contact Brad Merritt at 609-921-8964.
  • NEW for the Fall: Mercer Meadows Pole Farm A field trip on Saturday, October 26, at 8:00 am led by David Dorini with Sharyn Magee and Jim Myers. Join us for a fascinating walk around the Pole Farm of Mercer Meadows. We will be on alert for Sparrows, late Fall migrants and Northern Harriers in the native grasslands. Meet at the Pole Farm entrance at corner of Cold Soil and Keefe Rds. in Lawrence Twp. Directions to Mercer Meadows: Take Keefe Rd to Cold Soil Rd. The parking lot entrance is on left. For more information, call Brad Merritt at 609-921-8964.
  • NEW for the Fall: Mercer Meadows, Reed Bryan side of Pole Farm A field trip on Saturday, November 2, at 8:00 am led by  Jim Myers. Join us for a fascinating walk around the Pole Farm of Mercer Meadows. We will be on alert for Sparrows, late Fall migrants and Northern Harriers in the Pole Farm’s native grasslands. A Vesper Sparrow was seen here last November. ***Meet at the Reed Bryan Farm entrance on Federal City Rd., Hopewell Twp.*** Directions to Mercer Meadows: From Rt. 206 in Lawrenceville just north of I-295 overpass: take Lawrenceville-Pennington Rd towards Pennington. Continue straight through traffic light at Keefe Rd. Turn right at the light at Federal City Rd. The Reed Bryan Farm parking lot is on the right. Don’t park at the other Pole Farm lots—the Mercer Meadows Miler 10K/5K and Fun Runs starting in Rosedale Park will be using some of the Pole Farm trails in the morning. For more information, call Brad Merritt at 609-921-8964.
  • Sandy Hook National Park A field trip on Saturday, November 9, at 9:00 am led by Brad Merritt and Andrew Bobe. Sandy Hook is a prime spot to learn more about shore birds, with opportunities to see raptors, marsh birds, and migrating songbirds along the Jersey shore. Directions: *** UPDATED MEETING PLACE: Meet at parking lot B*** in Sandy Hook National Park. Link to info with map here. Also link to an old, 2007 Sandy Hook Birding MapFor more information, contact Brad Merritt at 609-921-8964.
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation at The Watershed Institute, an event on Saturday, November 9. Three sessions at 6:15 PM, 7:30 PM, or 8:45 PMLearn about Northern Saw-whet Owls and what local researchers are doing to study and conserve these tiny predators. Tyler Christensen, an ornithologist with the Wild Bird Research Group, captures, measures, and bands the owls. Join us to learn about their autumn migration. Space is very limited. Children, ages 8 and up, must be accompanied by an adult. Participants must be comfortable walking on uneven ground at night. A fee of $15 will be charged. In partnership with the Wild Bird Research Group. Register at The Watershed Institute, www.thewatershed.org .

  • Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation at The Watershed Institute, an event on Saturday, November 16. Three sessions at 6:15 PM, 7:30 PM, or 8:45 PMLearn about Northern Saw-whet Owls and what local researchers are doing to study and conserve these tiny predators. Tyler Christensen, an ornithologist with the Wild Bird Research Group, captures, measures, and bands the owls. Join us to learn about their autumn migration. Space is very limited. Children, ages 8 and up, must be accompanied by an adult. Participants must be comfortable walking on uneven ground at night. A fee of $15 will be charged. In partnership with the Wild Bird Research Group. Register at The Watershed Institute, www.thewatershed.org .
  • Winter Bird Walk – Lou’s Walk at the The Watershed Institute. A field walk on Saturday, December 7, at 9:00 AM led by The Watershed Institute’s education director, Jeff Hoagland. Join Jeff on this annual hike of the Watershed Reserve in search of wintering birds. We will encounter a variety of common birds, examining their preparations for winter. Bring binoculars and dress for walking outdoors in muddy, winter weather conditions. Register at The Watershed Institute, www.thewatershed.org, or call 609-737-3735. Co-sponsored with The Watershed Institute.

  • 120th Annual CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT on Sunday, December 15, 2019 (Princeton Count) and Saturday, December 28, 2019 (Trenton Count). National Audubon Society urges volunteers in central New Jersey to participate in one of Audubon’s great traditions, the annual Christmas Bird Count. WCAS sponsors both the Princeton Count, which this year will be held on Sunday, December 15, and the Trenton Count, to be held this year on Saturday, December 28. This year marks the 119th anniversary of the first Christmas Bird Count, when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by ornithologist Frank Chapman, changed the course of history. On Christmas Day 1900, the group initiated an alternative to the traditional holiday ‘side hunt,’ in which teams competed to see which could shoot the most birds. Instead of hunting, the group counted the birds they saw and founded a century-old institution. Today, over 50,000 volunteers from all 50 states, every Canadian province, parts of Central and South America, Bermuda, the West Indies, and Pacific islands will count and record every individual bird and bird species encountered during one calendar day. About 1,800 individual Christmas Bird Counts will be held during a two-and-a-half-week period. Each count group has a designated circle, 15 miles in diameter—about 177 square miles—where they try to cover as much ground as possible within a 24-hour calendar day. Christmas Bird Count serves as an up-to-the-minute bird census. Counters catalogue every bird and bird species they see over one calendar day, from midnight to midnight. Growing in popularity since its inception, the count serves an important scientific function as well. Birds are one of the first groups of animals to be affected by environmental threats like pollution and habitat destruction, and CBC data provide indispensable information, not only on long-term health of bird populations, but also the status of the environment that birds share with all living things. Apart from its attraction as a social, sporting, and competitive event, the annual count reveals interesting and scientifically useful information on the early-winter distribution patterns of various bird species and the overall health of the environment. The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running ornithological database. It continues to grow in importance to monitor the status of resident and migratory bird populations across the western hemisphere. The CBC is 100% volunteer generated data that, over the years, have become a crucial part of the United States Government’s natural history monitoring database. Count data from 1900 to the present are currently available through BirdSource (www.birdsource.org), a cooperative project of the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. All counts are open to birders of all skill levels. For more information, contact Brad Merritt at 609-921-8964 or email balmerritt@aol.com.

We are looking for additional team leaders—naturalists who can head out into the field and lead a small group of members and friends around your favorite natural location(s). We’ll help coordinate your team and support donation collection. If you would like to volunteer or lead a team, please email Juanita Hummel or Brad Merritt at contact.wcas@gmail.com

Click on calendar entries below for field trip locations. Clicking on the field trip you wish to join will bring open up the trip’s details including a Google Map and GPS coordinates. You may also visit our birding “Hot Spots” page for a map of local hot spots. 

Photos © Tony Singleton

Above & immediately below: WCAS trip to Sandy Hook Saturday, November 10. Photos © Tony Singleton (missing from picture).

Photos © Tony Singleton
Field trip leader Brad Merritt (middle) © Tyler Christensen
Geese on ice © Tyler Christensen
Birding Baldpate Summit © Diana Hayes

Check our event calendar below for individual program details. If there are field trips you would like to see added to WCAS field trip offerings, please feel free to contact us. All photos except where noted above © Tyler Christensen except lower right © Diana Hayes.

More outings in 2019

Sat, Dec 7            Winter Bird Walk

Sun, Dec 15             Princeton CBC

Sat, Dec 28            Trenton Marsh CBC

 

 

Sort Calendar by “FIELD TRIPS” category on left; Sort by “MONTH”, “WEEK” and “AGENDA” views on the right

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
2
Mercer Meadows, Reed Bryan side of Pole Farm 8:00 am
Mercer Meadows, Reed Bryan side of Pole Farm @ Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, Reed Bryan Farm
Nov 2 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
NEW for the Fall:  A field trip on Saturday, November 2 at 8:00 am, led by Jim Myers. Join us for a fascinating walk around the Pole Farm of Mercer Meadows. We will be on[...]
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Sandy Hook National Park 9:00 am
Sandy Hook National Park @ Sandy Hook Parking Lot B
Nov 9 @ 9:00 am
Sandy Hook National Park @ Sandy Hook Parking Lot B | Highlands | New Jersey | United States
Sandy Hook National Park A field trip on Saturday, November 10, at 9:00 AM, led by Brad Merritt and Andrew Bobe. Sandy Hook is a prime spot for birding and a great way to learn more about[...]
Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation  6:15 pm
Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation  @ Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed
Nov 9 @ 6:15 pm – 10:00 pm
Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation  @ Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed | Pennington | New Jersey | United States
Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation at The Watershed Institute, an event on Saturday, November 9. Three sessions at 6:15 PM, 7:30 PM, or 8:45 PM.  Learn about Northern Saw-whet Owls and what local researchers are doing to study and conserve these tiny[...]
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation  6:15 pm
Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation  @ Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed
Nov 16 @ 6:15 pm – 10:00 pm
Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation  @ Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed | Pennington | New Jersey | United States
Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding Presentation at The Watershed Institute, an event on Saturday, November 16. Three sessions at 6:15 PM, 7:30 PM, or 8:45 PM.  Learn about Northern Saw-whet Owls and what local researchers are doing to study and conserve these tiny[...]
17
18
Tong Mu: Migration in a Changing World: Ecology and Conservation of Shorebirds in East Asia 8:00 pm
Tong Mu: Migration in a Changing World: Ecology and Conservation of Shorebirds in East Asia @ Stainton Hall at Pennington School
Nov 18 @ 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Tong Mu: Migration in a Changing World: Ecology and Conservation of Shorebirds in East Asia @ Stainton Hall at Pennington School | Pennington | New Jersey | United States
Tong Mu:  Age, Size, Configuration, and Context: Useful Landscape Attributes for Conserving and Managing Biodiversity Monday, November 18, 2019, at 8:00 pm Migration has fascinated humans for generations, but both the phenomenon of migration and[...]
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30

Pole Farm at Mercer Meadows at corner of Cold Soil and Keefe Rds.

Known now as the “Red Barn” entrance at Cold Soil & Keefe Rds. Most birders enter Pole Farm from both this corner or Federal City Rd. entrance aka Reed/Bryan Farm. Can also park at Maidenhead Trail entrance on Keefe Rd. or at Blackwell Rd. entrance.
GPS: 40.312911, -74.737523

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deer management in winter

Baldpate Mountain, Fiddler's Creek Entrance

Fiddler’s Creek Entrance Parking lot for birding the Summit Trail (blue) and driveway on the left
Mercer County Website lists address as 327 Fiddlers Creek Road, Titusville, NJ 08560
Baldpate formerly known as Kuser Mountain
GPS: 40.317418, -74.889530

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check for Deer Management closing dates in winter

Abbott Marshlands

Abbott Marshlands formerly Hamilton- Trenton – Bordentown Marsh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use Sewell Avenue entrance to Roebling Park section of the Abbott Marshlands and park by Spring Lake. Be mindful that this natural area is located in an urban setting. Use caution when visiting. Don’t leave your camera or valuables lying about. Report any suspicious behavior to the Hamilton (609-581-4000) or Bordentown Township (609- 298-2800) Police. In an emergency, call 911.

GPS Coordinates: N40 11.714 W74 43.923  

Baldpate Mtn., Pleasant Valley Rd. entrance

Pleasant Valley Rd. entrance to Ted Stiles Perserve at Baldpate Mountain formerly known as Kuser Mountain
40.330450, -74.871657

Rogers Wildllife Refuge next to Institute Woods

Charles Rogers Wildlife Refuge entrance to Institute Woods, Princeton

Directions: From Princeton take Alexander Street toward Route 1. At the bend before the canal turn right on West Drive. Go a short distance on West Drive and park near the entrance to Rogers Wildlife Refuge.

GPS:
40°19’38.5″N 74°39’33.6″W
40.327353, -74.659342

Pole Farm Federal City Rd./Reed Bryan entrance

Reed Bryan section of the Pole Farm at Mercer Meadows also known as Federal City entrance with gray barn and “Last pole standing.”
GPS: 40.316586,-74.758068

St. Michaels Preserve

St. Michaels Preserve, Princeton Ave. aka Carter Road entrance.

Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association

GPS:
40°21’06.3″N 74°46’21.3″W
40.351751, -74.772571

Mercer County Park

West Windsor

Negri-Nepote Native Grassland Preserve

Caution: Hunting in Fall

Washington Crossing State Park Nature Center

Washington Crossing State Park Nature Center
355 Washington Crossing Pennington Rd, Titusville, NJ 08560, USA

GPS:
40°18’49.5″N 74°51’46.6″W
40.3137529, 
-74.86295740000003

Assunpink Wildlife Management Area

Assunpink Wildlife Management Area Boat Launch parking lot
Intersection of Imlaystown-Hightstown Rd & Clarksburg-Robbinsville Rd, Millstone, NJ 08535, USA
Directions: East on I-195 to exit 11, Imlaystown. North on Imlaystown Road 2.6 miles to parking area at Lake Assunpink.

GPS:
40°12’54.9″N 74°31’00.7″W
40.215254, -74.516866

Cumberland County Heislerville WMA

Heislerville Wildlife Management Area in Maurice River Twp., Cumberland County, NJ
Dikes on Matts Landing Rd, Leesburg, NJ 08327, USA

GPS:
39°14’02.9″N 75°01’34.5″W
39.234133, -75.026264

Peace Valley Nature Center

Peace Valley Nature Center
42-64 N Chapman Rd, Doylestown, PA 18901, USA

GPS:
40°20’23.8″N 75°10’16.2″W
40.339942, -75.171179

Mt. Rose Preserve

Mount Rose Preserve, Carter Rd., Hopewell Township, NJ 08540, USA
Please confirm parking on west or east side of Carter Rd.

GPS:
40°21’41.4″N 74°44’15.4″W
40.361489, -74.737621

Garret Mountain Reservation

Garret Mountain Reservation
2 Mountain Ave, Woodland Park, NJ 07424, USA  (near Patterson)

Directions: Take I-287 to I-80. Go east to exit 56A (Squirrelwood Road). Go to the stop sign and turn right on Rifle Camp Road. Go up the hill about 0.5 miles to Mountain Ave., which comes in from the left. Turn left on Mountain Ave. (look for army tank and reservoir on the left) and go 0.3 miles to the entrance to Garret Mountain Reservation. Go right up the hill for a short distance to a large parking area. The distance from Somerville on I-287 and I-80 to exit 56A is 40 miles.

GPS:
40°54’08.5″N 74°10’54.5″W
40.902367, -74.181791

Round Valley Reservoir Boat Launch

Round Valley Reservoir Boat Launch
County Rd 629, Lebanon, NJ 08833, USA

GPS:
40°37’54.9″N 74°50’57.5″W
40.631908, -74.849302

Pryde's Point Trail

Pryde’s Point Trail Conservation easement area is adjacent to the Alexauken Creek Wildlife Management Area. It has a wonderful wooded area with vistas of Hunterdon County. The terrain is steep in spots but allows for a leisurely walk to experience a remote area of West Amwell.

Park on 23 Gulick Rd., Ringoes, NJ:
https://goo.gl/maps/D3jcGqNVTSP2

GPS: 40.407954, -74.870407

Don’t park at the WMA entrance for Pond Trail on Rocktown-Lambertville Rd. Pryde’s Point Trail map on NJ Trails website: http://njtrails.org/trail/prydes-point-alexauken-creek/