We started out at Spermaceti Cove where the marshes were full of Song Sparrows and a couple of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons were out in the reeds. Lots of Brant were around and we saw our first 3 Ospreys of the day.
We drove up the road to Nike parking lot (it is just odd to see these ancient missiles pointing off to nowhere) and walked the path to the Pond nearby. Nothing at the pond but a couple of Mallards. However, a couple of trees along the road were full of Cedar Waxwings giving their little buzzing calls and there was one Brown-headed Cowbird calling atop a utility pole.
On to the Boy Scout Camp. Dark-eyed Juncos flitting about and Eastern Phoebes behind the Rusty Barn. Walking back we looked out over Horseshoe Cove--2 more Ospreys on a nest and Northern Gannets very close in over the bay, diving into the water with tremendous splashes. We thought we'd go back and walk out along the shore after a bathroom break, but no need to, because the bay by the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory (which is near the restroom) was chock-a-block with Gannets, dozens circling over and dive bombing the bay.
We ran into a birder we know slightly and he told us that at the end of the Fisherman's Trail there was a Glaucous Gull. The Fisherman's Trail is quite a schlep through loose sand, not Shari's favorite terrain, but the chance to see a Glaucous was worth the slog. But first we stopped off at K lot where a gigantic vernal pond has formed and Shari had been told by the folks at SHBO that there were some shorebirds around it. Sure were: Killdeer, Yellowlegs and a very early Stilt Sandpiper.
Then out to the beach we trudged, Ospreys calling overhead and on their nests. Shari located the gull pretty quickly but I wasn't convinced that it was a Glaucous. I thought it appeared (from comparing its size to other gulls around it) to be an Iceland Gull. In the Peterson I was carrying he describes the Glaucous as being the size of a Great Black-backed Gull (which were abundant today), and this gull was more the size of a Herring Gull (also around) when it stood next to a Ring-billed Gull. Another birder there thought I had the sizing about right, so I put it down as an Iceland. However, upon further review when I got home and looked it up in the new, revised Peterson, he had reduced the size of the Glaucous down to that of a Herring Gull, and the painting in Sibley's of Glaucous more resembled the gull we had seen. So, it goes as a Glaucous, which is still a rare sighting, but not a life bird as the Iceland would have been.
The other birder on the beach kindly pointed out a Great Cormorant perched on a buoy and we returned the favor by showing him and his wife a couple of Piping Plovers skittering along the beach. There were also Shari's favorites, 2 clownish American Oystercatchers along the strand.
Shari stopped in again at the SHBO while I scanned the bay (nothing much but more Brant and couple of Red-breasted Mergansers, along with the gannets) and Scott Barnes told her that we had missed a Wilson's Snipe at the vernal pond. Linda Mack gave us precise instructions as to where to stand to find the bird which was skulking on an "island" in the pond, so we drove back to K lot, positioned ourselves as instructed and found the little bird with the long long beak. By this time the wind was blowing stiffly and the one of us who apparently never heard the phrase "cooler by the shore," was freezing because she hadn't brought along enough layers, so we ended the day on the high note of a successful snipe hunt. The full list:
Observation date: 4/3/10
Number of species: 40
Canada Goose 60
Mute Swan 1
American Black Duck 1 Spermaceti Cove
Long-tailed Duck 1 end of Fisherman's Trail
Red-breasted Merganser 2 Bay off SHBO
Northern Gannet 80
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Great Cormorant 1 Green Buoy off beach at the end of Fisherman's Trail
Great Blue Heron 2 Spermaceti Cove
Great Egret 2 Spermaceti Cove
Piping Plover 2 Beach at the end of Fisherman's Trail
Killdeer 2 Vernal Pond, K lot
American Oystercatcher 2 Beach at the end of Fisherman's Trail
Greater Yellowlegs 2 Vernal Pond, K lot
Stilt Sandpiper 1 Vernal Pond, K lot
Wilson's Snipe 1 Vernal Pond, K lot
Ring-billed Gull 10
Herring Gull 12
Glaucous Gull 1 2nd year, beach at the end of Fisherman's Trail
Great Black-backed Gull 25
Mourning Dove 3
Northern Flicker 3
Eastern Phoebe 4 Behind Rusty Barn
American Crow 6
Fish Crow 4 Beach at the end of Fisherman's Trail
Black-capped Chickadee 2 Behind Rusty Barn
Carolina Wren 1
American Robin 2
Northern Mockingbird 5
Cedar Waxwing 60
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Song Sparrow 6
Dark-eyed Junco 2
Northern Cardinal 1 Behind Rusty Barn
Red-winged Blackbird 1 Fisherman's Trail
Common Grackle 1 Visitor's Center
Brown-headed Cowbird 1 Near Nike Parking Lot