Monday, December 8, 2014

Allaire Community Farm 12/8--Pink-footed Goose

I did some chasing today. Chasing isn't my favorite kind of birding--it's the proverbial missing the forest for the trees. I originally was going to go back to Parker Preserve and look for the Sedge Wren, but a bird I thought would be more "gettable" was reported yesterday while we were braving the 40 MPH winds at Barnegat Light, so I changed my itinerary.

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.

At the lake I walked to the area where the swans had been hanging out according to Bob Dodelson. I was misled a couple of times as I walked there, looking through the trees, by first a trio, then a quintet of dumb old Mute Swans, but a little to the east of the quintet I the Trumpeters were in place. I managed some photographs with my new camera, which I'm still learning to use and suspect I will always be still learning to use:
Trumpeter Swans

One up, two down
Invoking the "I only need one good bird a day" rule I was satisfied already with my list so the next target was going to be gravy. Yesterday, a Pink-footed Goose was found with a flock of Canada Geese on the Allaire Community Farm (not to be confused with Allaire State Park), which is about a half hour ride from where I was. I had planned the day so as to give the geese some time to fly back in from wherever they spent the night. I had never been to this spot, so I followed the GPS instructions which took me east on I-195.

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:
Species                         First Sighting
Pink-footed Goose     Allaire Community Farm
Canada Goose     Assunpink WMA
Mute Swan     Assunpink WMA
Trumpeter Swan     Assunpink WMA
Mallard     Assunpink WMA
Northern Shoveler     Allaire Community Farm
Ruddy Duck     Assunpink WMA
Cooper's Hawk     Assunpink WMA
Mourning Dove     Assunpink WMA
Northern Mockingbird     Assunpink WMA
European Starling     Assunpink WMA
White-throated Sparrow     Assunpink WMA
White-crowned Sparrow     Assunpink WMA

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