Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Gusts of wind shook the branch where the bird feeder hung and it fell to the ground. The birds enjoyed unfettered access to the suet.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

I had put the Merlin ID app away, and chatting with Bhavna as we walked around the small loop had become my main focus. On the trail back to Pole Farm, the trees receded and we were once again surrounded by the expanse of meadow. Despite cradling the digital camera equivalent of a newborn human, somewhere along [our walk around the small loop], I had forgotten the main reason I chose Mercer Meadows for the day's walk. We stopped at "Pole Farm" to read the small sign with a description of what stood in the space.

In the early 20th century The "Pole Farm" was once a key site for AT&T's international telephone call network. "Pole Farm" at Mercer Meadows has transformed over the years into a natural reserve with scenic trails and wildlife habitats. In the spring and summer, one can see lush meadows, woodlands, and wetlands, home to a diverse flora and fauna." Pole Farm", has become known as a prime birding location, attracting birding and bird photography enthusiasts.

There’s a squarish bit of grass that creates a rest area at the intersections of the crisscrossing trails. It may have been the former location of a building. Metal girders painted red surround this spot acting as visual borders between the meadow brush. A large metal arch provides the feeling of a doorway to the benches and restroom areas which provide opportunities to rest and enjoy the meadow views.

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) sitting in a flower tree.
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) · 16 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

Bhavna, maybe feeling that I was disappointed in not seeing any birds, pointed excitedly to one of the nearby flowering trees placed at the corners of the rest area. She pointed excitedly and said, "It’s so pretty". I could hear a bird singing melodiously from the nearby tree.

I saw a small and colourful bird, 15 to 20 cm in size, singing as though he were in attendance at a Bob Marley, with Master Marley belting out lyrics from "Three Little Birds"; "Don't worry about a thing. 'Cause every little thing is gonna be alright!".

Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) sitting in a flower tree.
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) · 16 March 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

This Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) and I had an understanding. He did not move his short slender body as I gingerly approached to fill the frame at 600m, the XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR sticking out from my face like a large nose. His black eyes and slightly curved bill looked toward the distance. Dressed in a vibrant deep blue hoody with a large rusty-red scarf and white pants, my subject and I worked together on this portrait photoshoot.

NOTE: I am visiting Mercer Meadows more often since I discovered Dan Day's The Jersey Birder website. With just a few visits Mercer Meadows has provided more opportunities for bird photography than the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge, my previous hot-spot. Check out his Springing into Spring post.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

This post is about bacon.

Canadian bacon, American bacon, and Scottish back bacon each come from different parts of the pig and are prepared in distinct ways that affect their taste and texture.

Canadian bacon is made from the lean eye of the loin, in the back of the pig. It is a much leaner cut than what the United States1 consider 'regular' bacon and resembles ham more than the streaky fatty salty sugary bacon consumed in the United States1. Canadian bacon is usually smoked after being cured and is often sold in rounded slices. It has a milder flavour and lower fat content compared to United States (US) bacon.

US bacon is often referred to as streaky bacon due to its high-fat content. It is made from the pork belly. It has a rich, smoky salty sweet flavour and crispy texture when cooked. US bacon is typically cured and then smoked, resulting in a fattier and more calorie-dense product compared to Canadian bacon.

Scottish back bacon is similar to Canadian bacon in that it comes from the loin of the pig. However, Scottish back bacon may include a small portion of the belly attached, which adds a little more fat and flavour compared to Canadian bacon. Scottish back bacon is also cured and can be smoked or unsmoked, depending on the traditional recipes and regional preferences.

The main differences between these types of bacon lie in their cut of pork, fat content, and the preparation process. Canadian and Scottish back bacon are leaner with a more ham-like texture, while American bacon is fattier with a crispier texture when cooked. I do not like US bacon. It’s disgusting.

During the pandemic, I found the Scottish Gourmet, an online where I ordered various Scottish foods to make my full Scottish breakfast, including black pudding and packaged slices of back bacon. I loved the back bacon so much that I had been placing regular orders of back bacon. I freeze the packages and thaw them as needed. I cook a slice for breakfast each morning.

27 February 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

On my first visit to the Brick Farm Tavern’s mini market, I discovered they sold Canadian bacon. It’s not quite the same as Scottish back bacon but it's quite tasty. The mini market is just a 15-minute drive from home making their bacon more accessible than the Scottish Gourmet.

While walking back to the car from the mini market, I noticed these birds walking across the lawn near the Dog Run Bar. Fortunately, the X-T3 and the XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR were in the back of the car.

The bird is the Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), identifiable by its black head and neck, white cheeks, white under its chin, and brown body. Canada Geese are native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, but their range has expanded with the help of humans to parts of northern Europe, New Zealand, and other areas. They are highly adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including lakes, rivers, ponds, and sometimes even urban parks. Canada Geese are known for their V-shaped migration patterns and their loud, honking call.

  1. I am making an effort to stop referring to citizens of the USA as Americans. South Americans and Central Americans are Americans too!!