Hi everyone! I took a little break from blogging since the move to New Hampshire. The transition has been a little rough, but it’ll get easier over time. Since I last wrote we went back to Chincoteague, VA, added Maine to our birding map, and added a few lifers to our list. I’ll catch you up on all of that soon, but this past weekend we visited family back in New Jersey and of course made some time for birding. I was able to visit some of my old stomping grounds: Palmyra Cove Nature Park and Haddon Lake Park.
Palmyra Cove Nature Park, Palmyra, NJ
I really missed Palmyra. Even in the heat of the day, we still observed 34 species. Highlights included a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, American Redstarts, Chimney Swifts, 2 Ospreys, and Wild Turkeys. We also saw a nice variety of butterflies and dragonflies, some turtles, and a groundhog.
Haddon lake park, audubon, nj
The ducks at Haddon Lake are now in eclipse plumage. Waterfowl undergo a simultaneous wing molt, meaning they are rendered flightless for about 20-40 days. Therefore, males, who are usually much more colorful than the females, molt their head plumage in order to blend in. I also learned (thanks to a helpful person on Instagram) that there was an American Black Duck amid the Mallards. We also saw a Red-winged Blackbird fledgling being fed by its parent.
Dave and I made our way out to the Jersey Shore today for the Great Backyard Bird Count. We went birding at two locations: Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on LBI and Cloverdale Farm Park in Barnegat. We added a new bird to our life list: the Red-breasted Nuthatch. I went to Cloverdale last week with my mom and sister to look for the Red-breasted Nuthatch, but we didn’t find it (however, we did see Pine Siskins, a lifer for us!)
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, Barnegat Light, NJ (20 species, 461 individual birds)
3 Greater Scaup (1 male, 2 females)
3 Common Eiders
15 Harlequin Ducks (mostly male)
30 Black Scoters
45 Long-tailed Ducks
13 Red-breasted Mergansers
3 Ruddy Turnstones
25 Ring-billed Gulls
136 Herring Gulls
26 Great Black-backed Gulls
1 Red-throated Loon
14 Common Loons
6 Double-crested Cormorants
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 Savannah Sparrow
Bonus find: 6 Seals!
Cloverdale Farm County Park, Barnegat, NJ (16 species,45 individual birds)
2 Mallards (male/female)
1 Belted Kingfisher
3 Carolina Chickadee
3 Tufted Titmouse
2 Red-breasted Nuthatch
4 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 Brown Creeper
5 Eastern Bluebird
1 Northern Mockingbird
1 House Finch
1 American Goldfinch
16 Dark-eyed Junco
2 White-throated Sparrows
1 Pine Warbler
1 Northern Cardinal
It’s always a pleasure visiting the Jersey Shore. Tomorrow is the last day of the 2019 GBBC. Stay tuned!
On Sunday January 27, Dave and I went to 4 birding locations in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. I was inspired to find some Canvasbacks, so we drove out to the Jersey Shore to see what we could find. Overall, we saw 15 different waterfowl species between the 4 locations. Here are the highlights.
Manasquan Reservoir IBA, Howell, NJ
This was around the time of the polar vortex, so it was pretty cold and most of the reservoir was frozen over. Despite the cold, we observed 20 species.
Waterfowl: Canvasbacks (life list #2 for 2019, read about life list #1, the Razorbill, here), huge flocks of Common Mergansers and Canada Geese, Hooded Mergansers, Bufflehead, Ring-billed Ducks, female Common Goldeneye, Ruddy Ducks, Mallards, Mute Swans
Others: 3 Bald Eagles (breeding pair and juvenile), watched an adult and juvenile eating prey on the ice. American Coots, gulls.
Other: Turkey Vultures, tons of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls, Common Loons
Manasquan Inlet, Manasquan, NJ
Manasquan Inlet is where the Manasquan River meets the Atlantic Ocean. There were a lot of Common Loons that day, and we learned after we got home that there was a Pacific Loon among them, a NJ rarity. I didn’t think to pay close attention to each individual loon since I just assumed they were our normal Common Loons. Lesson learned!
Waterfowl: Long-tailed Ducks
Other: Common Loons, Rock Pigeons, Ring-billed Gulls, Dunlin
Lake of the Lilies, Pt. Pleasant, NJ
Our first visit to Lake of the Lilies was last year for the Great Backyard Bird Count. We saw 13 species of waterfowl that day in February, including a large raft of Redheads and a rare Tufted Duck. This visit was quieter, but we got an amazing views of some Wood Ducks.
We are almost a month into winter, so I thought it would a great time for a Waterfowl Wednesday post. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I love waterfowl, and winter is the best time to look for different species. For new readers, waterfowl is any bird that is a duck, goose, or swan. So without further ado, today’s featured species is Surf Scoter.
Males: distinct swollen bill of orange, white, red, yellow, and a dark black spot. Yellowish-white or blue-gray eyes. Red-orange feet with dusky webs. White patches on nape of neck and forehead.
Females: Dark crown on head and neck. White patches below and behind eyes. Plain, sloping greenish-black bill. Pale gray, yellow, or brown eyes. Brown to yellow-colored feet with black webs.
Juvenile: Similar to female, but has brown eyes, white belly and whiter face patches
Breeding: exclusively breeds in North America, specifically Alaska and Northern Canada
Winter: Pacific and Atlantic Coasts, sometimes Gulf Coast
Migration: Migrates in flocks over coastal waters, sometimes using lakes for stop-over sites. Migrates through parts of Canada, the Great Lakes, and some New England and Mid-Atlantic States.
In winter, oceans and salt bays. In summer, tundra, lakes, and semi-open terrains.
Mainly mollusks, aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans, aquatic insects, some plant material. Surf Scoters are diving ducks.
Courtship: Many males will try to impress a female using display flights, swimming back and forth with neck up, or exaggerated bows. Pair bonds form on wintering grounds.
Nesting: Shallow depression on the ground away from water, usually well hidden.
Young: Female incubates 5-9 eggs and tends to the chicks after hatching. Chicks are precocial, meaning they leave the nest shortly after hatching and can feed themselves.
Usually silent, but sometimes guttural croaking. Wings in flight make a whistling sound.
Population trends are not well known, but are mostly stable.
Egg hatching is synchronous among eggs, meaning they will all hatched around the same time.
Similar species to the Surf Scoter are Black Scoters and White-winged Scoters. However, Surf Scoters can be distinguish from other scoter species by their unique bills, white patches on the head, and completely black wings.
Flocks can vary in size from 2 to 500 individuals, but can be larger during migration. Surf Scoters frequently flock with Black Scoters, but most other species of ducks can be found among Surf Scoters. They tend to fly in disorganized lines that are constantly fluctuating.
Added 9 more species to Year List for fall, making final total 175
Participated in my first Audubon Christmas Bird Count on 12/23 in Moorestown, NJ, with 35 total species for our count. Unsure of total count for other teams in the “Moorestown” circle. (Fun fact: Moorestown, NJ was one of the 25 towns to participate in very first Christmas Bird on December 25, 1900)
Close-up seaducks at Barnegat Light: Surf Scoters, Common Eiders, Black Scoters, Harlequin Ducks, and Long-tailed Ducks
Final hike 2018: Taylor’s Wildlife Preserve
Final 2018 Stats
Year List: 175 species
Life List: 16 new additions, current total 207.
Birding in 7 States: New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts