Since all the local ponds are frozen-over, it was time for a trip south to the open water of the shore and ocean.
The first stop was Twilight Lake in Bayhead, where I was able to locate a target bird in the Lesser Black-Backed Gull. This gull was among two Greater Black-Backed Gulls, so it's smaller size was evident. Also, the bird leaned forward a couple of time showing off it's bright yellow legs, which also distinguish it from the Greater. Also seen here was an early Killdeer.
Red-Necked Grebe - credit unknown
A stop at Manasquan Inlet failed to yield any alcids, but did provide a nice look at a Red-Necked Grebe. The bird was just a few yards off the shore, and turned it's head a few times to reveal it's yellow bill. A Bonaparte's Gull flew by here as well. Numerous Common Loons and Horned Grebes were feeding in the Inlet, but I could not find any Purple Sandpipers along the jetty.
Belmar Marina produced a few Great Cormorant, looking smart as they approach breeding plumage. Being here at low tide resulted in thousands upon thousands of birds feeding in the shallows and mudflats. I could not locate a Eurasian Wigeon, which appears here annually, but I did locate three Redhead. The male looked stunning in the bright sunlight.
Shark River Inlet yielded more close Horned Grebes and about 15 Black-Bellied Plovers.
While the bellies are no longer black in their alternate plumage, the dark axillaries (wing-pits) did allow for some color on the otherwise dreary-appearing birds.
Of surprise was a lone, immature Snow Goose on Deal Lake in Asbury Park.
Out of time, I made a split-second stop at Conover Pavilion in Deal hoping for a Razorbill.
No luck on that, but here there were two large rafts of scaup. Mostly of the Greater species, I scanned quickly looking among them for a very rare visitor in the Tufted Duck, but I could not detect any.
Here's a list of noteworthy birds seen this day:
Ruddy Duck, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Brant, Gadwall, Black Duck, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, N. Shoveler, N. Pintail, Green-winged Teal, both Scaup species, Bufflehead, C. Goldeneye, DC Cormorant, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Turkey Vulture, Coot, Herring Gull, Ring-Billed Gull, Fish Crow, and Boat-Tailed Grackle.