Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Barnegat Light SP 7/9--Royal Tern

Piping Plover fledgling
For the first couple of hours at Barnegat Light this morning it looked like a continuation of the summer doldrums. It has been a dull month so far. A low fog hanging over the ocean wasn't helping matters. I walked up and down the beach a couple of times, looking for an unusual tern, hoping that perhaps a pelican would emerge from the mists but all I got were gulls, gulls, gulls and a few terns that where hard to i.d. in the murk.

The most interesting bird I'd seen on the way out to the beach was the fledgling Piping Plover standing in the middle of the stringed off area. I was just casually scanning the broken shell landscape when I saw it standing there with its back to me. It moved off and eventually hunkered down in a little depression. A monitor from NJ Fish & Wildlife who was looking for the plovers told me that today was "fledgling day." Supposedly, they're on their own today after hatching on Father's Day.
Black-crowned Night-Heron

Anyway, I'd given up on the day after waiting for the fog to lift as long as my patience would hold out. I was heading back up the beach to the parking lot, looking at the tidal pools that form along the jetty when I saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron skulking among the rocks. That was at least interesting. Night-Herons are much more likely to be found in marshes, not picking at rocks, so I was doubly surprised to find a second heron close by.

While pondering whether these were the first Night-Herons I'd ever seen on a beach, I was distracted by two large terns with white foreheads and bad haircuts--finally, a new species for the year--Royal Terns.

American Oystercatchers
Then I heard "peep-low, peep-low," the cry of the Piping Plover and saw an adult scampering from one side of the protected area to the other where the tidal pools are. The plover was ushering 3 juveniles and acting very protective still, so I don't know if fledgling day was slightly postponed. The birding definitely picked up after I gave up. Another Night-Heron flew low along the jetty, making 3 where I'd never seen any and then a couple of American Oystercatchers started to make a racket near one of the grazing Night-Herons.  In all, I saw 9 oystercatchers either in flight or feeding in 3 different parts of the park.

For the day I had 23 species. I'm still looking for the elusive Brown Pelican.

Double-crested Cormorant  3
Black-crowned Night-Heron  3     
American Oystercatcher  9
Piping Plover  4     
Least Sandpiper  1
Laughing Gull  100
Herring Gull  150
Great Black-backed Gull  100
Common Tern  10
Forster's Tern  3
Royal Tern  2
Mourning Dove  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
American Crow  1     Heard
Barn Swallow  10
Gray Catbird  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Common Yellowthroat  3     Heard
Song Sparrow  4     Heard
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  5
Boat-tailed Grackle  1
House Sparrow  5                                                                                                                                                    

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