Archivos de diario de marzo 2016

14 de marzo de 2016

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

Last Saturday, for the 6th consecutive year, I drove down to Barnegat Inlet with friends from the Upper Main Line YMCA earth service group for a day of incredible birding. The Barnegat jetty is famous for giving amazingly close views of beautiful shorebirds and sea ducks and on this unseasonably warm and sunny day in mid-March it did not come up short.
The action started in the parking lot, with a noisy flock of starlings and Boat-tailed Grackles flying from tree to tree and scaring up the occasional cardinal or Carolina Wren. A flyover flock of about a dozen Cedar Waxwings also made a brief appearance. Scanning a small patch of the inlet that could be seen from the parking lot, we found Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead, and Greater Scaup, a good indication that there were lots more ducks to be found.
We headed towards the jetty and got amazing looks of Long-tailed Ducks and Common Loons less than 20 feet from us! As we watched the flock of Long-tailed Ducks diving and squabbling in the surf, a female Northern Harrier took off across the inlet and flew directly toward us before heading back to patrol the dunes. We also saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk circling the lighthouse for the majority of the time we spent at the jetty.
Leaving the relative safety of the concrete portion of the jetty and venturing out to the rocks, we were rewarded with even closer looks at Long-tailed Ducks, as well as Surf and Black Scoters, and the star of the show, Harlequin Ducks. Every year we are blown away by how close we can approach these brilliantly patterned birds and this year was no exception; either sitting on the rocks and preening or feeding in the surf, the harlequins showed little fear and provided incredible views.
Farther out on the jetty, we were shocked by just how many birds were out on the water. We made rough estimates of 300 Long-tailed Ducks, 250 Black Scoters, and 40 Surf Scoters. As we approached the very end of the jetty, we began seeing more ocean-going species, including Northern Gannets soaring far out at sea, Great Cormorants perched on channel markers, and a Common Eider or two mixed in with the Long-tailed Ducks.
The highlight of the day however was a relatively plain looking brown duck all on its own in the waves at the mouth of the inlet. The waves made it difficult to get a good look, but the field marks started slowly coming together. Eider-shaped, light brown in color, rounded head, stubby bill; eventually we came to the conclusion that we were looking at a female King Eider! While not necessarily unexpected at this location, it is still a rarity in the state of New Jersey and a very exciting find!
Once we had satisfied ourselves with long looks at the eider, we turned our attention towards the shorebirds that were practically at our feet. Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin, and Purple Sandpipers allowed us to approach them until we were just a few feet away, and we watched as they huddled in the rocks and shifted position slightly with every splashing wave.
With the tide coming in and the rocks getting more slippery, we decided it was time to head back, skirting the flocks of shorebirds and walking back on the jetty until we could safely hop down to the beach. We walked back to the parking lot and discussed the birding spectacle we had just witnessed on possibly the best Barnegat trip in the 6 years since the tradition started.

Publicado el marzo 14, 2016 03:49 TARDE por nsharp nsharp | 35 observaciones | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

24 de marzo de 2016

March 24 Bird Walk

Today I guided a bird walk down to the Burlington Waterfront and the Urban Reserve. The Waterfront was fairly active, with a smattering of gulls in the lake and on the rocks as well as a small flock of 10 Double-crested Cormorants. As the ice has continued to melt, the ducks have gone farther and farther out in the lake and there were none to be seen from the waterfront today. There was however a pretty good-sized flock of Cedar Waxwings hanging out in the fruiting trees lining the board walk. I searched each one for any Bohemian field marks but all were Cedars. I watched for a few minutes as they gorged on berries and eventually decided to head to the Urban Reserve.
Before I could even get to the bike path, however, I heard the distinctive "uh-uh" call of a Fish Crow! I'm used to seeing and hearing them daily around my house in southeastern PA so it always surprises me to know that they're a rarity around here. I've been hearing them around the Burlington area for the last few days and have a good feeling they'll be nesting in the area again.
After walking into the reserve, I was greeted by a quiet scene that was in stark contrast to my trips to the reserve in the spring and the fall. Rather than seeing the warblers, vireos, and other migrants dripping from the trees, there were only a few species to be seen. Aside from a loud, boisterous Pileated Woodpecker taking off, there was not much of interest to be seen. After making it to the tip of North Beach, I scanned the cove only to find a pair of Common Mergansers floating in the lake.
There may not be much moving right now, but spring migration is slowly approaching and when it hits I look forward to slowly walking the bike path in awe of the migrants flowing through the trees.

Publicado el marzo 24, 2016 09:17 TARDE por nsharp nsharp | 18 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario