Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sandy Hook 10/18--Nelson's Sparrow

We went on a field trip with Scott and Linda up at Sandy Hook--with 30 people it's hard to do real serious birding, but we did explore a couple of areas that Shari & I rarely get to (Plum Island and Gunnison Beach) and one area (the proving grounds) that we'd never birded before. For a skinny peninsula, there's a lot of varying habitat tucked away in obscure areas.

Highlight of the day was one of the first birds found on Plum Island, a Nelson's Sparrow, seen decently through a scope. There seemed to be quite a few in the reeds there, but they are elusive. Now I have bracketed the sparrow in Atlantic County to the south and Monmouth County to the north. I need it for this county and haven't had any luck in the "traditional" spot for them, Great Bay Blvd. It's a winter sparrow, so there's time, I suppose.

The other bird I was happy to at least hear was a Pine Siskin which flew over our heads on Plum Island. I couldn't remember if I'd encountered them this year. Checking eBird, I hadn't--in New Jersey. In New Mexico, this spring, we had a slew of them. They were so common there I guess that they didn't make much of an impression.

Raptors made a decent show--accipters, falcons, and vultures.

I feel like we have to enjoy Sandy Hook while we can--the National Parks Service seems determined to destroy as much habitat as they can, either with ill-thought out recreational development (RV camps on the beach where the Piping Plovers nest--there's a swell idea) or else by building themselves a nice shiny maintenance yard & building right in the middle of the largest holly forest in New Jersey. Their last building got flooded by Sandy, so naturally they want to move into an area that also was completely flooded, spending millions of taxpayer dollars to do so. Habitat can recover from Sandy; it can't against the Parks Service.

Anyway, rant over, here's the list.
40 species
Brant  10
Canada Goose  50
American Black Duck  4
Surf Scoter 8
Common Loon  1     f/o K lot
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Great Blue Heron  1
Black Vulture  1
Turkey Vulture  4
Sharp-shinned Hawk  2
Cooper's Hawk  4
Laughing Gull  3
Herring Gull  5
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Forster's Tern  2
Royal Tern  4
Rock Pigeon  20
Mourning Dove  2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Merlin  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue-headed Vireo  1
American Crow  1
Tree Swallow  10
Brown Creeper  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  3
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  10
Cedar Waxwing  8
Yellow-rumped Warbler  5
Nelson's Sparrow  1
Seaside Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  5
House Finch  10
Pine Siskin  1     Heard, f/o Plum Island

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