Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 28 - Blame it on the Sapsucker

I did not plan on birding today, however when I saw a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker in my yard early today, I decide to get in the car and head south. The ponds along coastal NJ are starting to open up and while most of the birds are gulls, there is some waterfowl to be found.
At Manasquan Inlet I found a second-cycle Glaucous Gull along with the other expected species of Ring-Billed, Herring, and Greater Black-Backed Gulls. I was not able to find any of the Lesser Black-Backed Gulls today. Also at Manaswuan were about 85+ of the Purple Sandpipers and two-dozen Dunlin and a handful of Black-Bellied Plovers and Sanderlings.

Ducks seen in the various ponds were Canvasback, Ring-Necked Duck, both Scaup species, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Black, Mallard, Common & Red-Breasted Merganser species, Coot, Bufflehead, Horned Grebe, Common Eider, Black Scoter and Surf Scoter, Common Loon, both Cormorant species, Brant, Pintail, Riddu Duck, and Oldsquaw Duck.
A Peregrine was on the bridge going over the Manasquan Inlet

Later I stopped at the Richard DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands to try for the Northern Shrike that has been seen there for several months now. After a 30-minute wait the bird finally showed and gave me very nice looks in my scope.

A quick stop in Kearney Marsh produced the over-wintering Common Moorhen. This is one of the few known breeding spots in north eastern New Jersey.

Overall, a good day, all thanks to that Sapsucker !

Sunday, February 21, 2010

February 21 - Warren/Hunterdon Counties

Some quick birding today out in Western NJ. At Oberly Road a/k/a Alpha Grasslands, Bill and I were able to find a Lapland Longspur. Unfortunately the bird was further away than we would've liked, but we did get to see it. Also seen here were hundreds of Horned Larks, a few Savannah Sparrows, and some Snow Geese.
We saw more Snow Geese at Merrill Creek Reservoir, and also a Bald Eagle, some Northern Pintail, Redheads, Coots, and a Pied-Billed Grebe.

Next Sunday I hope to have the full day free.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

February 14 - Hatfield Swamp

Thism orning I tried for the Yellow-Breasted Chat that had been reported in Basking Ridge. Unfortunately I waited almost 2 hours without the bird showing up. A kick in the teeth came later as birders found it at 1 pm...
I then went to the Hatfield Swamp area and came across one Long-Eared Owl. Also seen on my walk here were American Tree Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Carolina Wren, and woodpeckers of Downy, Red-Bellied, and Northern Flicker.
A Sharp-Shinned Hawk was also seen, as were some Yellow-Rumped Warblers. Too bad it was not the warbler species I was after this morning...

Monday, February 08, 2010

February 7 - Storm King & Shawangunk

Some pre-Super Bowl birding today included a stop at Storm King Mountain, which is just a few miles north of the West Point Military Academy on New York State's Route 9W. Overlooking the nearly frozen Hudson River we enjoyed the scenery of rolling hills and craggy topped peaks.
After about a 90 minute wait we were treated to extended flight views of a wintering Golden Eagle. This is the first time I've seen this species in New York.
Credit: Mark Priest

Following the Eagle stop we next went to Shawangunk Grasslands. This former military airport in Ulster County's Galeville, New York is a fantastic spot in summer for Upland Sandpiper, Bobolink, Grasshopper Sparrow and the like. In winter it produces raptors that evidently feed on the rodent population. Our first raptor was the Rough-Legged Hawk. This arctic breeder comes south to our area in winter only. We saw the dark morph of this species.
Credit: Scott Weins

Next up was the primary purpose of visiting these grasslands, which was to see some Short-Eared Owls. We then waited much longer than we had anticipated, probably due to the high winds today, as the Owls finally showed just after 5:40 pm. I had two Owls in flight directly overhead of me which gave me nice looks at the underside of the wings. A few minutes later while walking back to my car I had more distant looks at an Owl in flight.
credit: Tam Stuart

The good news is that I got to see all of my target birds for today !