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