Once a working farm, the Allendale Celery Farm is now a wildlife oasis amidst the sprawling suburbs of Bergen County, New Jersey.
The centerpiece is Lake Appert, approximately 20 acres of freshwater marsh that attracts waterfowl, herons, and rails when it’s not frozen, generally from mid-March to mid-December. Three sturdy platforms offer wonderful views, making the site a photographer’s dream.
I bird the Celery Farm for many reasons. At no other suburban birding locale do I truly feel like I’m in the middle of wilderness. Plus, the farm is one of the best places in New Jersey to look for American Bittern and Virginia Rail. Also, expect to see Wood Duck, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Tree Swallow, Baltimore Oriole, Warbling Vireo, Great Egret, and much more during the spring and early summer.
And the number of rarities seen over the years is impressive. I will never forgot being part of a small group that spotted the refuge’s first Purple Gallinule – a stunning adult on a misty, foggy August morning. — Rob Fanning
Rob Fanning is a World Series of Birding veteran, and he leads field trips for the Fyke Nature Association and the New Jersey Audubon Society.