Northward!

At the beginning of April, Dave and I traveled to New Hampshire and Massachusetts. We are moving to New Hampshire in June due to Dave’s new job, so our primary purpose of the trip was to find an apartment. But you know us! Can’t travel anywhere without birding :-).

Mine Falls Park, Nashua, NH

Mine Falls Park is a 325-acre urban park located along the Nashua River. Mine Falls Park offers over 9 miles of trails and is part of the New Hampshire Heritage Trail System. Habitats include forest, fields, and wetlands. We explored the only side of the park by walking down the Nashua Power Canal towards Oxbow Lake. We observed 24 birds species and a muskrat. I definitely plan on making Mine Falls Park one of my regular birding spots once we move.

Highlights:
  • Pileated Woopeckers: We observed 2 Pileated Woodpeckers within the first 10 minutes of being in New Hampshire. (Pileateds are one of my favorite birds, so I knew 2 right away were a good sign lol)
  • Other woodpeckers: Hairy, Downy, Red-bellied
  • Large flock of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds

Greeley Park, Nashua, NH

Greeley Park is more of a recreational park than it is a birding park. There are trails as well as large stands of pine trees. We observed 11 species during our walk.

Highlights
  • Quiet! It’s not often I stand in a park that’s next to a neighborhood in the middle of a city and hear…silence. Come to think of it, I don’t think I can go anywhere in New Jersey and just hear silence (as in just nature sounds without man-made ones). NH is definitely not NJ. I can get used to less noise!
  • White-breasted Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadees

Hampton Beach State Park, Hampton, NH

Hampton Beach SP is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Hampton Harbor Inlet. We spent some time sea watching by the inlet.

Highlights:
  • Horned Larks. There was a flock of about 10. We’ve only seen one Horned Lark so far; a juvenile at Laurel Run Park in Delran, NJ. It was a great surprise to see adults.
  • Common Loons and Common Eiders
  • Eastern Mud Snails

Red Wing Farm Reservation, Chelmsford, MA

Red Wing Farm is a small park comprised of meadow and forest habitat. This park connects with the 25-mile Bruce Freeman Rail Trail.

Highlights:
  • Bald Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk
  • Spring Peepers along the rail trail

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Sudbury Unit and Concord Unit, MA

Great Meadows is 3,800 acres and runs along the Concord and Sudbury Rivers. We briefly visited both the Sudbury and Concord units and observed a variety of spring migrants.

Highlights
  • Lots of spring sounds: Spring Peepers and other frogs, Eastern Phoebes, Red-winged Blackbirds, Black-capped Chickadees, and others
  • A muskrat and turtles

We’re Migrating!

Hi friends! On my last post, I mentioned that Dave and I have some exciting news. Well…here it is.

We’re migrating! A one-way migration, that is.

At the end of June, Dave and I will be moving from New Jersey to New Hampshire!

Dave is graduating in May with an electrical engineering degree, and he got a job in northern Massachusetts, so we’ll be moving right over the border into southern New Hampshire. I’m so proud of him that he’s achieving his dreams, and now we are on to some new adventures.

The exciting news isn’t without a little sadness though. I’ve spent my entire life in New Jersey, and I honestly never really thought I would be leaving it. I will definitely miss being able to see family and friends whenever I want, but now we will create new memories in a different setting when we visit each other.

I’ll also miss the locations that have grown dear to us over the years birding…especially places like Haddon Lake Park, Barnegat Light, and Cape May. We’ve created so many wonderful memories since we’ve starting birding in New Jersey 5 years ago, and I get a little emotional thinking about not being able to visit these place at any time. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to start my birding life in New Jersey, where we have some of the best birding spots along the Atlantic flyway. But through the blog, I can look back at all the cool places we’ve explored.

One thing I know I won’t miss though…living in a state of 8.9 million people that borders two major cities of millions more people (lol)! These days you can never really escape traffic (unless you live in the middle of nowhere I guess), but I’m anticipating that New Hampshire traffic won’t be quite like New Jersey’s.

As much as I’ll miss the old birding locations, I’m looking forward to new birding adventures. New Hampshire is known for its natural beauty. The White Mountains, a region of the Appalachians, dominates part of the state and includes the highest peak in the northeastern US, Mt. Washington. The northern areas of the state is where the southern boreal forests of Canada meet with the northern deciduous forests. There are numerous rivers and lakes, as well as 13 miles of coastline and beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. We will also be closer to Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Canada, and it only takes about 2 1/2 hours to get to our favorite city, Newport, Rhode Island. There will be so many cool birding opportunities!

We will be heading up to New Hampshire in the month of April to check out some places to live the area. It will be my first time traveling to NH (the farthest north I’ve been on the East Coast was Boston). If you’ve been to or live New Hampshire and have any suggestions of places to check out or cool birding locations, please let me know in the comments!

New Hampshire in autumn (Image by Someone35 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D)

Sandy Hook

January 6th is a special day for me. On 1/6/17 I saw my first rare bird, the American White Pelican, with my mom and sister in Tuckerton, NJ. 1/6/18, Dave and I got married!

January 6th continues to be as special day because in 2019, it’s the day of the Razorbills!

Dave and I decided that we wanted to spend our 1st wedding anniversary birding at a new location. Sandy Hook is an area that I’ve wanted to explore for a while, so we decided that it would be the perfect time. Sandy Hook is a barrier island peninsula and the northern tip of the New Jersey Shore. You can see the Manhattan Skyline across the ocean. Sandy Hook is part of Gateway National Recreation Area, run by the National Park Service.

I heard through my NJ birders groups that there were some Razorbill sightings, so I was hoping we would spot a few. However, whether or not we found Razorbills, Sandy Hook always has interesting sightings.

We started our adventure at Lot A and B Beaches. Black Scoters, Surf Scoters, and Long-tailed Ducks surfed the waves. A few Northern Gannets flew by. We spent about 10 minutes watching the flocks fly by when we spotted our first Razorbills. Razorbills look like little black-and-white jet planes in flight. They fly low to the water in lines and individuals usually rock side-to-side out of sync with their flockmates. The Razorbills were our first life list birds of the year.

Lot C Beach brought us some more Razorbills, Red-breasted Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks, Black Scoters, a variety of gulls, Northern Gannets, and Common Loons (as well as a nice view of the Manhattan Skyline).

Common Loon (Image by BirdNation)

The other side of the peninsula runs along Sandy Hook Bay and Spermaceti Cove. You get a pretty view of the Atlantic Highlands as you walk across the beach. According to Sandy Hook’s website, the Highlands are the highest point on the eastern seaboard. We observed a group of adult and juvenile Mute Swans, American Black Ducks, Brant, Canada Geese, and many gulls.

Mute Swan Goslings (Image by BirdNation)

We also had the opportunity to see a colony of Atlantic Harbor Seals relaxing on a sandbar. It was fun watching them frolic in the water and spend some time sunning. (Speaking of seals, we had a cool seal experience in Cape Cod, MA last summer!)

Sandy Hook Seals (Image by David Horowitz)

Before leaving, we spent time exploring some of the historical sites and the lighthouse. I definitely plan on birding again at Sandy Hook.