Monday, March 31, 2014

March Wrap Up

Tree Swallows huddling together against the cold, Prospertown Lake
It is a very good month when I can get two life birds without leaving the state. As I wrote earlier, one bird--the ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK--was turning into a nemesis bird, while the other--ROSS'S GOOSE--was plopped down in a field and was found while I was still in the car. There were another 14 FOY species in March, some of them expected (Great Egret, Osprey), one early (Chipping Sparrow) one in an odd location (Black-capped Chickadee), one controversial (Trumpeter Swan) and one spectacularly rare (Eurasian Tree Sparrow). The rest fell into the about time category, including the Northern Gannet I saw today at Manasquan Inlet.

After the first week of March, Pine Warbler finally fell out of the "rare" category on eBird, so I didn't feel compelled to list it every time I saw them scarfing up the peanut butter smeared on the pine cone outside my window. But then two Tundra Swans turned up on the pond on Schoolhouse Road and those are rare for the time and location, so I've been documenting them every day and then the Redhead that arrived the same day the swans did became "rare" a few days ago. I'm curious to see how long both species will stay on our little unprepossessing pond.
Redhead with Ring-necked Ducks
Tundra Swan action shot
For the month I had 114 species in 9 counties in 2 states.
Counties birded:
New Jersey: Atlantic, Burlington, Cape May, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Union
New York: Kings
Species                Location
Snow Goose     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
ROSS'S GOOSE     Cape May--Sea Grove Ave.
Brant     Great Bay Blvd
Canada Goose     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
Mute Swan     Bridge to Nowhere
Trumpeter Swan     Assunpink WMA
Tundra Swan     Whitesbog
Wood Duck     New Egypt fields
Gadwall     Lighthouse Pond
Eurasian Wigeon     Lighthouse Pond
American Wigeon     CMPSP Hawkwatch Platform
American Black Duck     Rahway River Park
Mallard     Crestwood Village
Blue-winged Teal     Brigantine
Northern Shoveler     Forsythe--Barnegat
Northern Pintail     Whitesbog
Green-winged Teal     Forsythe--Barnegat
Canvasback     Brigantine
Redhead     Assunpink WMA
Ring-necked Duck     Whitesbog
Greater Scaup     Barnegat Municipal Dock
Lesser Scaup     CMPSP Hawkwatch Platform
Surf Scoter     Manasquan Inlet
White-winged Scoter     Sunset Beach/Concrete Ship
Black Scoter     Sunset Beach/Concrete Ship
Long-tailed Duck     Manasquan Inlet
Bufflehead     Cattus Island County Park
Hooded Merganser     Crestwood Village
Common Merganser     Rahway River Park
Red-breasted Merganser     Cattus Island County Park
Ruddy Duck     Brigantine
Wild Turkey     35 Sunset Rd
Red-throated Loon     Barnegat Municipal Dock
Common Loon     Barnegat Municipal Dock
Pied-billed Grebe     GSP MM .5
Horned Grebe     Barnegat Municipal Dock
Red-necked Grebe     Manahawkin Lake
Northern Gannet     Manasquan Inlet
Double-crested Cormorant     Cape May--Lily Lake
Great Blue Heron     Crestwood Village
Great Egret     Brigantine
Black Vulture     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
Turkey Vulture     Cattus Island County Park
Osprey     Brigantine
Northern Harrier     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
Cooper's Hawk     Cape May
Bald Eagle     Great Bay Blvd
Red-shouldered Hawk     Bridge to Nowhere
Red-tailed Hawk     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
American Coot     Brigantine
American Oystercatcher     Great Bay Blvd
Black-bellied Plover     Villas--Miami Ave. beach
Killdeer     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
Greater Yellowlegs     Brigantine
Willet     Villas--Miami Ave. beach
Sanderling     Villas--Miami Ave. beach
Dunlin     Villas--Miami Ave. beach
Purple Sandpiper     Manasquan Inlet
American Woodcock     Whitesbog
Bonaparte's Gull     Sunset Beach/Concrete Ship
Ring-billed Gull     Crestwood Village
Herring Gull     Cattus Island County Park
Great Black-backed Gull     Manahawkin Lake
Rock Pigeon     New Egypt fields
Mourning Dove     Cattus Island County Park
Snowy Owl     Bridge to Nowhere
Belted Kingfisher     Parker Run Dock St.
Red-bellied Woodpecker     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
Downy Woodpecker     Cattus Island County Park
Hairy Woodpecker     Assunpink WMA
Northern Flicker     Whitesbog
Peregrine Falcon     Brigantine
Monk Parakeet     Carteret--Washington Avenue
Eastern Phoebe     Great Bay Blvd
Blue Jay     Cattus Island County Park
American Crow     Cattus Island County Park
Fish Crow     Pandora Diner parking lot
Common Raven     Whitesbog
Tree Swallow     Whitesbog
Carolina Chickadee     35 Sunset Rd
Black-capped Chickadee     Cape May Pt College Streets
Tufted Titmouse     Cattus Island County Park
White-breasted Nuthatch     Cattus Island County Park
Brown Creeper     Crestwood Village
Carolina Wren     Crestwood Village
Golden-crowned Kinglet     Whitesbog
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     35 Sunset Rd
Eastern Bluebird     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
Hermit Thrush     Cape May Pt SP
American Robin     Cattus Island County Park
Gray Catbird     Cape May Pt SP
Northern Mockingbird     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
European Starling     New Egypt fields
Pine Warbler     35 Sunset Rd
Yellow-rumped Warbler     35 Sunset Rd
American Tree Sparrow     Colliers Mills WMA
Chipping Sparrow     Crestwood Village
Fox Sparrow     35 Sunset Rd
Song Sparrow     35 Sunset Rd
Swamp Sparrow     Cattus Island County Park
White-throated Sparrow     35 Sunset Rd
White-crowned Sparrow     Assunpink WMA
Dark-eyed Junco     35 Sunset Rd
Northern Cardinal     Cattus Island County Park
Red-winged Blackbird     Cattus Island County Park
Rusty Blackbird     Prospect Park
Common Grackle     Mercer Sod Farm IBA
Boat-tailed Grackle     Great Bay Blvd
Brown-headed Cowbird     Whitesbog
House Finch     35 Sunset Rd
American Goldfinch     35 Sunset Rd
House Sparrow     Crestwood Village
Eurasian Tree Sparrow     Cape May Pt College Streets

Manasquan Inlet 3/31--Northern Gannet

A trip to the dentist this morning put me in the vicinity of Manasquan Inlet, so despite the blustery butt end of the seemingly endless storm we had this weekend, I stopped there for a bit. And was immediately disheartened by the wind. I know "good" gulls are there, but I just can't bring myself to make an attentive scan of them, looking through my teary eyes and wind-shaken scope for a "white-winged gull" that's a little different than all the other gulls in their various cycles. With gulls I slam up against the limits of my birding abilities (and weather endurance) and it irritates me that I can't make myself get better.

However, I did see about 30 Purple Sandpipers close up, which are always fun to find and I saw my first Northern Gannet of the year right after it occurred to me actually look up over the water to see if I could fine one. I was surprised to find out that I hadn't seen a gannet yet this year--kind of embarrassing. In face my whole list today is a little embarrassing--more discipline required.
11 species
Brant  20
Surf Scoter  5    two flying, three on water
Long-tailed Duck  8
Red-breasted Merganser  1    inlet
Common Loon  25
Northern Gannet  1
Purple Sandpiper  30
Ring-billed Gull  50
Herring Gull  5
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Rock Pigeon 1
A stop at Lake of the Lilies didn't turn up anything new--there were at least 500 ducks on the lake and they were all scaup (Lesser). Again, I didn't feel like sorting through all those scaup looking for a Greater. That's too much like work.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Carteret 3/28--Monk Parakeets

Washington Avenue near High Street, Carteret, NJ
Google Street Views
I had to be up in central Jersey again today, helping my mother with financial matters, so yesterday I looked up the location in Carteret, about 7 miles from my mom's house, where there is a well-known colony of Monk Parakeets. Despite the short distance, Carteret could just as well be Inner Mongolia--another place I've never been. After I mapped the trip on Google Maps (and there was no way of getting there that didn't seem rather convoluted), I took a look at the location using Street Views. A parakeet nest is clearly visible at the top of the utility pole. Must be the place.

I drove there in a driving drizzle parked the car and got out wondering if I'd find them. I wondered for about 2 seconds; I hadn't even closed the door when I heard them, then looked up and saw two sitting on a wire. I had parked right next to the pole in the picture. Soon another pair was calling and then two more were flying around at another nest on the other end of the empty lot.

Great looking birds--haven't seen them since my Brooklyn days when we'd go to Green-wood Cemetery where they act as greeters at the entrance. Too bad I forgot my camera.

I always feel a little weird in urban settings when I've got my binoculars out; people either think you're crazy because you're looking at birds, or they they think you're sinister because you're looking at something. There were 2 kids and a young guy across the street watching me. My urban alarm started to ring when the young guy said, "You like our birds?" "Yeah, I do," I said with a neutral voice. Well, that's all he needed. He crossed the street and talked my ear off about the birds, what they eat, where all the nests are in the area, how they dominate all the other birds, and the protest the utility company set off when they took a nest down. They're very protective and proud of their parakeets in the neighborhood.

However, when some other kids came along, throwing full plastic soda bottles at each other, I thought perhaps it was time to take my leave.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cape May 3/23--Black-capped Chickadee, Eurasian Tree Sparrow

There are two introduced species of sparrows (genus: passer) in North America: the ubiquitous House Sparrow (a.k.a English Sparrow) and the Eurasian Tree Sparrow (German Sparrow) which has a much more restricted range, sticking closely to the St. Louis area in which it was introduced in 1870. It has lately been extending its range a little farther north in the mid-west, but the easternmost sighting (until today) was in Ontario.

So when Shari saw the Jerseybird post that a Eurasian Tree Sparrow was being seen at a feeder in Cape May and Joan said that it would be a life bird for her (we've seen them in France), we sped (20 mph) through the rest of the Wildlife Drive at Brig and headed on down to Cape May Point.

The post said the bird was on Harvard Avenue, but when we passed Lincoln Avenue, which is around the block from Harvard, and saw a crowd of birders we stopped there. Last sighting there was 90 minutes previous. So we waited and while we were waiting, as it so often happens that there is a name for the occurrence (The Patagonia Picnic Table Effect), we saw another rarity at the feeder. I knew I would see a Black-capped Chickadee sometime this year--I just didn't expect it to be in Cape May about 100 miles south of their southernmost range in the state. But there it was, hockey stick pattern of white on the wings, flying from the feeder into the evergreen right above us, giving us excellent looks, but not good angles for photos.

After a few minutes I told Shari that I was going to walk around the corner to Harvard to see if the bird had reappeared there; if it had I would call her. If they saw the bird on Lincoln, obviously, call me. A few minutes after I got to the crowd around one feeder a birder called out several houses down the block, "Here it is!" We all ran down and quickly got on the bird. I had it in my binoculars just long enough to say "lookatthatsonofabitch," then called Shari. No answer. So, even though I am an old man who does not like to run and who even when young was not a fast runner, I ran around the block and signaled Shari & Joan (and everyone else) that the bird was not where they were.

We three got back to the spot and soon had the bird in our sights. Joan was thrilled. It had been quite a while for her to get a lifer. And it is actually a very pretty bird. I've always maintained that if you just look at a House Sparrow and forget about its invasive qualities, it is a beautiful bird. This bird, with its odd "ear" dot which makes it look like it has an extra set of eyes, its rufous cap, and its white collar, is a stunning bird.
Photos: Shari Zirlin
With House Sparrows for comparison

After watching the bird for a while, no bells rang, the sky did not have "Congratulations" written across it and the world remained pretty much the same and we moved on to Lighthouse Pond (where Joan got a sub-species lifer of Eurasian Green-winged Teal) and Sunset Beach before ending the day just as the clean slate sky opened up with rain.
Our lists:
Cape May Pt College Streets
Comments:    Harvard and Lincoln feeders.
12 species
Rock Pigeon  3
Mourning Dove  2
Carolina Chickadee  2
Black-capped Chickadee  1   
European Starling  10
Chipping Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  10
White-throated Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  2
Common Grackle  10
House Sparrow  50
Eurasian Tree Sparrow  1  

Lighthouse Pond
16 species (+1 other taxa)
Mute Swan  2    Nest on eastern part of pond
Gadwall  100
American Wigeon  25
Mallard  3
Northern Shoveler  10
Green-winged Teal  20
Green-winged Teal (Eurasian)  1    Eastern section of pond. 
Ring-necked Duck  1    Eastern pond of pond
Lesser Scaup  2    Western part of pond
Bufflehead  3    Eastern part of pond
Turkey Vulture  5
Osprey  1
American Coot  1
Mourning Dove  1    Heard
Fish Crow  3
Carolina Wren  1    Heard
Common Grackle  3

Sunset Beach/Concrete Ship
6 species
White-winged Scoter  1
Black Scoter  10
Red-throated Loon  4
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Bonaparte's Gull  4
Fish Crow  5

Brigantine 3/23--Blue-winged Teal, Great Egret, Osprey

After checking the pond on Schoolhouse Road to see if our rarities, the Tundra Swan and Redhead, were present (they were), we drove down to Brig with our friend Joan for a trip or two around the impoundments. I was hoping to add a couple of birds to the year list, both of which we found fairly easily--Great Egret and Osprey.  The Blue-winged Teal were a bonus. We had a false alarm before we found our first Osprey--we mistook a third year Bald Eagle for a fish hawk. After getting out of the car and into the wind (which wasn't predicted in the forecast) to scope the bird, we were disappointed when we found it to be only an eagle. Jaded we are.

About 2/3 of the way around the drive Shari looked on her iPad and saw a post on Jerseybirds about a very interesting bird at a feeder in Cape May. That's the next story (above).

Our list for our 8 mile drive (the last third of which it would have taken quite a bird to get us to stop):
35 species
Snow Goose  1000
Brant  75
Canada Goose  50
Mute Swan  1
Tundra Swan  25     All black, knobless, bills, smaller than MUSW. Continuing birds.
American Black Duck  700
Mallard  20
Blue-winged Teal  5    Marsh in front of Gull Pond Tower
Northern Shoveler  10
Northern Pintail  250
Green-winged Teal  50
Bufflehead  10
Common Merganser  1    On island, marsh in front of Gull Pond Tower
Red-breasted Merganser  2
Red-throated Loon  3
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  2
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  2
Northern Harrier  3
Bald Eagle  1    From south dike, sitting on pole, 3rd year bird. 
Red-tailed Hawk  1    At start of drive
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Dunlin  50
Ring-billed Gull  3
Herring Gull  5
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
American Crow  1    Heard
Tree Swallow  6
American Robin  2
Song Sparrow  2    Visitor ctr feeder
Red-winged Blackbird  5
House Sparrow  2    visitor ctr

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Great Bay Blvd WMA 3/22--Eastern Phoebe

Photos: Shari Zirlin
Here's something I never did before--birded slightly inebriated. Before we drove down Great Bay Blvd, we stopped off at the Pinelands Brewing Company in Little Egg Harbor, just off Route 539. It is a nano-brewery--they brew about 15 or 16 kegs a week, open on Saturday, and when the beer is gone, they're done. Since Shari isn't much of a beer drinker she only used 2/3 of her allotment (and 1/2 of that was root beer), so I drank 1 1/3 pints of beer, which for me, before lunch, is a lot of beer (nowadays). I liked their IPA brew. Unfortunately, they only sell their beer in growlers (about a gallon) and I don't need a half gallon of beer in the fridge.

Thus, when we left, I wasn't exactly drunk, but I was glad Shari was driving.

Again, at Great Bay, I was hoping for Great Egrets & Osprey. None were about. The inlet was almost devoid of birds (save for a hen Black Scoter & a Common Loon), but I did find, for Shari, an American Oystercatcher, so for her, the day was complete.

As we were walking back from the inlet, through the little grove of scrubby trees, Shari spotted a gray and white bird flitting from branch to branch. Flicking its tail. Our first Eastern Phoebe of the year.

Add the phoebe to this morning's Tundra Swans and Redhead and it was a pretty good day.
Our list for Great Bay Blvd:
19 species
Brant  60
Mute Swan  1
Black Scoter  1    Inlet
Bufflehead  15
Red-breasted Merganser  10
Common Loon  1
Horned Grebe  6
Great Blue Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Northern Harrier  1
American Oystercatcher  1
Herring Gull  5
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Eastern Phoebe  1
Carolina Wren  1    Heard
European Starling  1
Song Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  1    End of road
Boat-tailed Grackle  25

Photos of Our Local Rarities 3/22

I was out the door by 7 this morning; I wanted to get to the pond on Schoolhouse before the waterfowl flew off. Fortunately, they were all still there. There is no accounting for why this little pond would suddenly attract these birds, but they seem content enough, pulling up weeds from the bottom of the pond. My photos:
Tundra Swans, Redhead, Ring-necked Ducks, Canada Geese
You can see the diagnostic yellow dot on the upper bill near the eye. (click photo to enlarge)
Redhead drake with Ring-necks

You can really see the dot in this picture (click to enlarge).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Some Happy Finds in Crestwood Village 3/21

On our way to the Crestwood Community Gardens with our friend Joan we passed, just before sunset, the little pond on Schoolhouse Road. Normally this pond attracts Mallards and geese. A few Hooded Mergansers or Ring-necked Ducks are a big deal. So when we saw a couple of swans on the pond, I thought that was interesting. When the swans turned out to be Tundra Swans, I was astonished. When Joan picked out a drake Redhead from among the 28 Ring-necked Ducks, I went from astonished to flabbergasted. I never would have expected to find those swans or the Redhead on this little body of water.
Cell phone photo by Shari Zirlin
The light was low and neither Shari's nor Joan's cell phones were up to the task of taking anything more than an atmospheric picture. You can see the two swans way in the back of shot above.

The reason we were on our way to the gardens was to find woodcocks. It's a reliable spot for them and we weren't disappointed tonight, at least aurally. We heard at least two timberdoodles "peenting" and Joan thought she had four. They didn't seem interested in displaying tonight. Maybe it's still too cold? In any case, not a bad evening, five minutes from the house--rare swans, a great duck, and funny "shorebirds." Oh, and a Cooper's Hawk flew over as we were waiting for it to get completely dark. Not bad at all.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Prospect Park 3/20--Rusty Blackbird

Ring-neck Ducks, Wood Ducks, Mallard, Upper Pool, Prospect Park
 I had to be in New York today to get my taxes done; so the day wouldn't be a complete loss, I took the subway first to my old stomping grounds--a few rarities had been reported there, but more than anything, I just wanted to walk around the park for a couple of hours.

I swung around the Upper Pool on my way to the Nethermead and found my first ducks of the day. My real objective, though, was the Osage Orange tree in the Nethermead where Rusty Blackbirds have been reported for the last week or so. My first pass through the area failed to turn up any rusties--just grackles, sparrows, and a lot of noisy jays. I didn't want to waste my limited time in the park looking for one species, so I hurried on to the lake, figuring I'd at least get a lot of ducks. I did, including a small flock of Common Mergansers, relatively rare for the park's lake. They were easy to find, and made a nice contrast with their smaller cousins, the Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers that were also in the middle of the water.  I was looking for one more water bird, and half-circled the lake until I got to the southwest corner. There was a fairly large flock of Ruddy Ducks there, as there always seemed to be, and then, just as I was about to give up and turn back toward Park Slope, I found what I was looking for: a Red-necked Grebe--certainly not a new bird this year, but my first ever in Kings County and a rare find for the vicinity.

Amazingly, I hadn't seen or heard a Black-capped Chickadee. Didn't get one in Central Park either earlier this year. I decided to look at Peter's feeders to see if one or more would come in. As I was standing there, not seeing any chickadees (though there were finches, sparrows, and a Downy Woodpecker) a text came in from Peter--the rusties were back at the Osage Orange. I gave up on the chickadee (I suppose I will eventually see one this year) and walked back to the Nethermead at speed. When I got there, nothing. Peter had said they'd flush to the creek that runs alongside the meadow so I slowly walked backed and forth, looking for movement in the shrubbery. Nothing--just sparrows, jays, robins, and grackles again until finally I saw one, deep in a bush--pale iris, pointier bill than Red-winged Blackbird, much smaller than grackle. Peter said there were 6 there and that patience would prevail. But I had to go and I only need to see one. I saw it well, though there was no possibility of taking a picture through the bushes--all the camera would do was focus on the twigs.

So it was a pretty good, if fast-paced two plus hours in the park. As to the taxes--we pretty much came out flat which is as good a result as I could hope for.

My day list:
36 species (+1 other taxa)
Canada Goose  100
Mute Swan  5
Wood Duck  4    Upper Pool
American Black Duck  1
Mallard  100
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)  1
Northern Shoveler  10
Ring-necked Duck  3    Upper Pool
Hooded Merganser  15
Common Merganser  6    
Red-breasted Merganser  5
Ruddy Duck  26
Red-necked Grebe  1    Largish grebe with long, dagger-like bill. Black capped head. Lake.
American Coot  10
Ring-billed Gull  50
Herring Gull  5
Rock Pigeon 1
Mourning Dove  3
Red-bellied Woodpecker  2    Heard
Downy Woodpecker  2
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  1    Heard
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
American Robin  125
European Starling  100
American Tree Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
White-throated Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  4
Northern Cardinal  8
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Rusty Blackbird  1    
Common Grackle  15
House Finch  3
American Goldfinch  4
House Sparrow  20
Banded goose

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Villas 3/15--Willet

Duck-like Cloud
Photos: Shari Zirlin
A rather desultory day of birding still yielded some decent finds. It's always good to start with low expectations, then exceed them. We originally planned to tour the Pinelands Brewery in Tuckerton and get in some birding down there, but they apparently ran out of beer and were closed today, which left us at loose ends.

A couple of first cycle Black-headed Gulls have been reported the last few days down at Villas on the Delaware Bay shore in Cape May County, but low tide, the best time to find them, wasn't until mid-afternoon, so we decided to drive down to Cape May Point and then make our way back north. We confined our birding to the state park. There were, as expected, lots of waterfowl spread out on the ponds (though not as many species as I saw yesterday at Assunpink). Two of them were notable. On the east part of Lighthouse Pond, while scanning through the numerous wigeons, pintails, and gadwalls, I came up with a beauty of a Eurasian Wigeon. My first reaction, seeing the bright red head was, naturally, Redhead, but then I saw the gray body and white streak on its head and corrected myself. In any other part of the state, this bird is considered a rarity. In Cape May, it's just another nice bird.

We walked the trails in the park. The first of the very few passerines we saw was this Hermit Thrush. These birds will become scarce in a few weeks. They're always shy and very few spend the warm months here.

At the Plover Ponds at the end of the walk we found more ducks, geese, and swans, including a solo Tundra Swan. Shari found it. I dismissed all the big white birds as mutes. Shari was a little more careful. I thought this would be a rarity in Cape May, but again, just another good bird.

During lunch we got a text from our friend Mike that he'd seen the birds along with some Forster's Terns, so we headed 10 miles up the bay shore. When we got there the tide was going out. There were gulls around, very far away and no one there had seen the Black-headed Gulls. A couple of Bald Eagles were flying back and forth, then landing to sit on the beach and that kept the birds astir. Sometimes eagles are not welcome. While scanning the beach we found many Dunlin, a couple each of Black-bellied Plover and Sanderlings, and our first Willets of the year. Shari was hoping they were oystercatchers. I think because the winter Willets here are "western" and bigger than our summer migrants that the size fooled her.

All the gulls remained of the common variety. I really had no expectation of finding the rare gulls. They're the kind of gulls that look so much like more common species, that, like Western Sandpipers, unless I'm right on top of them, I'm not going to confident in my i.d.

We finished off the day with a trip around Brig. Low tide so more mud than water there. We didn't find anything to get excited about until almost the end of the drive at the exit ponds, where I spotted a Red-necked Grebe very close to the road, swimming next to the reeds. A big grebe, with its neck starting to turn red and a dagger-like yellow bill. This is a rarity at Brig. Wish I had realized it, I would have take a picture, it was close enough to get good ones.  It has been an invasion year for RNGR because, I'm told, the Great Lakes, where they usually winter, were frozen over and thus they were forced east to find open water.

For the day we had 45 species. Not bad for a day with low expectations.
Snow Goose    200
Brant    100
Canada Goose    87
Mute Swan    14
Tundra Swan    6
Gadwall    45
Eurasian Wigeon    1
American Wigeon    60
American Black Duck    705
Mallard    32
Northern Shoveler    57
Northern Pintail    254
Green-winged Teal    110
Ring-necked Duck    1
Lesser Scaup    5
Bufflehead    13
Red-breasted Merganser    10
Ruddy Duck    1
Red-necked Grebe    1
Double-crested Cormorant    1
Great Blue Heron    4
Black Vulture    5
Turkey Vulture    6
Northern Harrier    1
Bald Eagle    2
American Coot    1
Black-bellied Plover    2
Willet    5
Sanderling    2
Dunlin    200
Ring-billed Gull    50
Herring Gull    150
Great Black-backed Gull    5
Peregrine Falcon    1
American Crow    3
Carolina Chickadee    2
Tufted Titmouse    1
Carolina Wren    2
Hermit Thrush    1
Gray Catbird    1
Yellow-rumped Warbler    2
Song Sparrow    1
Northern Cardinal    1
Red-winged Blackbird    12
Common Grackle    3