I started out at Assunpink figuring that I could get the trio of Trumpeter Swans that have returned to the lake, even though I have them on my year list already--they're still cool birds and I also considered them compensation for wasting my time looking through all those Tundra Swans at Whitesbog last week.
I did stop at the farm driveway on the way in to see if I could pick up the always reliable White-crowned Sparrows and a just a little pishing brought two out. A Cooper's Hawk overhead may have explained why there were so few birds in the area.
|One up, two down|
I was about 20 minutes away when I noticed a little white stuff swirling on the roadway. The more easterly I went, the more white stuff I found, not only on the road but in the air and then on my windshield. Tomorrow there is supposed be a big Nor'easter. Nobody said anything about snow today, but by the time I pulled into a little parking area across from a pond which I saw 3 or 4 birders were scoping, big, puffy flakes were falling. That was going to make viewing conditions difficult. Fortunately, one of the birders was a guy I know; in fact, I had a feeling he'd be there today and he already had the bird in his scope so I took a quick look before finally locating it in my scope. Since it was swimming we couldn't see the eponymous feet, but the brown head, pink blotch on bill, & gray back with barring were enough field marks to cinch the identification.
Last year, in January & Februrary, Pink-footed Geese seemed to be all over the place; this is the first one reported this year of this good which normally isn't found much closer to New Jersey than Greenland so it's a good bird to have for the year and I'm happy I chased. When the bird flew off, leading about a dozen geese to the north, it was the signal to get out of the surprising weather and go home
Here's my "quality over quantity" list for my morning in Monmouth County: