Monday, December 26, 2016

December 26 - Christmas Rarity !

This morning our regular group went out, minus Bill, and headed south to Manasquan Inlet for a SeaWatch.  Here we saw most of the expected species of Common & Red-Throated Loons, All three Scoters, Ring-Billed, Herring & Greater Black-Backed Gulls, Brant, Cormorants, numerous Northern Gannets, Purple Sandpipers, Long-Tailed Ducks, and some Common Eider.

Our next stop was on the way back north in the area of Holmdel because the over-wintering Canada Goose flocks had some seasonal rarities amongst the ubiquitous Canadas...Immediately we saw the two Pink-Footed Geese along Willow Brook/Long Bridge Roads, and thereafter stopped at Vonage's Corporate Headquarters and saw the Ross' Goose.  While viewing the geese a rare-bird alert had my phone chiming and we headed farther north toward Somerset County's Franklin Township. This area is known for the handful of Sandhill Cranes that winter in the harvested corn fields.  As luck would have it we did see 7 of the cranes in flight as we made our approach to the rare bird location.

Here we were looking for a Rock Wren, which had been found yesterday by another birder who had been in search of the Sandhill Cranes. This is how rarities are often found...while searching for other rarities. We had to wait about 30 minutes along with a few dozen other birders, and spent that time catching up with old friends & exchanging holiday greetings.  About 1:30 pm the target bird was relocated and everyone present was able to get clear, as well as, lengthy scope views of the rarity.

credit: Ben Barkely

This Rock Wren is the second known record for New Jersey, with the last one occurring back in the winter of 1992-1993.  This was NJ State bird # 382 for me.  Here is a history of this species' records on the East Coast

The above video was created by Dave Blinder

Here is the species typical range. click to enlarge:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December 10 - New York's City Hall

Today brought a trip to a famous landmark in New York City, specifically City Hall.  This is a very unusual destination for me to look at birds, but there have been a few lingering birds that have been drawn to the oasis of trees & plantings that surround this center of New York politics.

Our primary target was the Western Tanager and although it did not show until 9:30 we still had a fine time looking at the other seasonal rarities beforehand.  Here is the Western Tanager.  This was my first sighting of the species within New York State, and is State Bird # 368.

We had also seen a male Black-Throated Blue Warbler, and also an Ovenbird, and finally we saw the Yellow-Breasted Chat.

On our way back to New Jersey we stopped an Inwood Hill Park for a look at the flycatcher that has been the subject of many discussions as to it's species.  It appears to be a Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher, however it is also possible that this bird could be a species of Western Flycatcher.  I'll let the experts decide on it's ultimate species ID.

credit: Zach S-W

Saturday, December 03, 2016

December 3 - Sandy Hook's Pacific Loon

The regular group got together today for a visit to Sandy Hook.  A Pacific Loon has been seen for the past several days, and we were able to re-locate this bird from off the beach at B-Lot.
Here is an image taken by the finder of the bird, my buddy Jason Denesevich

credit: Jason Denesevich

Other species seen were Common, and Red-Throated Loons, Northern Gannets, Black, and Surf Scoters, Long-Tailed Ducks, Horned Grebe, and some Snow Buntings.  A Lapland Longspur was in the flock of Snow Buntgini, but I did not see the Longspur today.