Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23 - Southern NJ Rarities

Today we took a trip down to Salem County in hopes of seeing Yellow-Headed Blackbirds, and possibly some early arriving spring migrants.  Once we reached the open fields of the Featherbed Lane Wildlife Management Area, we spotted a beautiful male Ring-Necked Pheasant strutting though the fields.   Next we spent about 2 hours examining the large mixed-flocks of returning Blackbirds.  Here we saw Red-Winged Blackbirds, Brown-Headed Cowbirds, Common Grackles, and European Starlings.  Finally at the Kings Highway Feedlot we briefly saw a female Yellow-Headed Blackbird.  We then continued looking at the large flock about 100-150 yards south of the feedlot and I was able to locate a stunning male Yellow-Headed Blackbird.

Here's am image similar to what we saw today.

After enjoying some other good birds in the area, I received a text alert that friend Rob Fanning had located a mega-rarity down at Cape May.  We made the 90-minute drive and after a short wait we all got to see a life bird in the form of this Eurasian Tree-Sparrow !!

credit: Sam Galick

This bird may be the first accepted State-Record for New Jersey !

Sunday, March 02, 2014

March 2 - Suffolk County Geese

Our regular group went east this morning out to the town of Riverhead in Long Island's Suffolk County.

The targets we geese and we had quite a few !  We ended up seeing the pair of Pink-Footed Geese that were reported a few days ago.  Also seen today was a Ross' Goose, and a Greater White-Fronted Goose.
We also picked out a flyover Cackling Goose

On nearby Pier Road we had this adult Iceland Gull

credit: Bill Elrick

Sunday, February 09, 2014

February 9 - Common Murre, Brigantine NWR, and Western Grebe

Out by myself this morning I decided to take the long ride down toward Cape May because there was a rare bird being seen in Wildwood Crest.   A Common Murre had been reported a few days earlier om the bay side in Sunset Lake.
I arrived just after first light and quickly got on the bird. Although it was actively feeding at first, the bird was very close to shore.   Later after the feeding frenzy was completed, the bird then was a little farther out into the lake, but then was staying above the water for long periods, offering great looks at this species.   This is my first record of Common Murre in New Jersey !

Here's a crappy 'documentation-purpose' only pic that I took with my cellphone.

Also seen here today is another rarity for the area in the bird of Rough-Legged Hawk.  This bird was quite distant on the other side of Sunset Lake, but it's perching & flight-style are easy identifiers for this species.

After birding the local Cape May area for a bit and not seeing anything unusual, I headed back north toward home.  First I stopped at Brigantine to look at some ducks and to get views of Tundra Swans, and the Snowy Owl which has been staying here for quite some time now.  I also spotted a Red-Shouldered Hawk.

I resumed my way north and made one last quick stop in Monmouth Beach.  Here I was able to see the Western Grebe which was found by friend Tommy Boyle a few days earlier.  I had not seen this Grebe in a few years so it was nice to put my eyes on this species once again !

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 18 - Overpeck Park's Greater White-Fronted Goose

After birding on Long Island today, we made a quick stop at Overpeck Park to get a brief view of the Greater White-Fronted Goose that has been here for a few days now.

credit: Larry Scachetti

Earlier today we were out at Jones Beach and we connected with this Northern Shrike

Credit: Bill Elrick

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 17 - Ramsey Barnacle Goose

I made a quick stop at the Ramsey High School after work tonight to get a quick look at the Barnacle Goose.  Likely this is the same bird I saw nearby in December.

Credit: Larry Scachetti

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 12 - North Shore Trip

This morning I was out with friend Bill E. and we birding the areas of the North Shore, basically the coastline & ponds between Point Pleasant and Sandy Hook.
We started at the Manasquan Inlet for a seawatch and here we had the gulls of Iceland & Bonaparte's, and Glaucous, all 3 Scoter species were seen. plus we spotted a Pacific Loon !

Later up in Deal, we had very nice views of a Pacific Loon (possibly the same bird seen earlier in Manasquan ?) and Bill spied a Lesser Black-Backed Gull at Wreck Pond.

Lastly in the Belmar Marina I located a drake Eurasian Wigeon amongst all of the American Wigeon.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

January 4 - Meadowlands Owls

This evening I went to the Richard W. DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst to look for the Short-Eared Owls that has been sen here for a few weeks now.  About 4:30 pm the first of these Owls was seen.  Later we saw a second Owl as well.  Here's a picture by friend Kevin Watson that shows the beauty of these birds.

Credit:  Kevin Watson

Surprisingly we also had a Barn Owl that took a long flight very close to us.  When I saw the completely white underwings I knew this was a different species, and then I saw the heart-shaped facial disk that's characteristic of this species.

Credit: Ashok Khosla

Earlier on the drive in I had seen a light morph of the Rough-Legged Hawk