Saturday, January 10, 2015

Brig 1/10--Snowy Owl

It's been very cold the last 4 or 5 days, but it hasn't seemed cold enough to freeze Barnegat Bay, but that's what's happened. I started out the morning over at Riverfront Landing in Toms River, hoping for Canvasbacks, but most of the water there was frozen, so the only ducks I could get were Mallards and Ruddy Ducks. Later, I hear, a lot more ducks showed up. I have no idea where they were hiding while I was there.

My next stop was Marshall's Pond, which was, I'd estimate, about 75% ice. I was hoping to get another look at the Cackling Goose that's been there, but among the 300 or so geese in the water and on the ice I couldn't find it. I did come up with a nice Green-winged Teal, though.

Around noon we met up with Pete & Mike who were leading their annual Ocean County Roads trip, which usually goes down 4 or 5 marsh-lined roads. But since most of the water was of the solid variety, after a couple of stops in Manahawkin, they called and audible and the whole group headed down to Brig.

Our target there was on the North Dike and we found the Snowy Owl easily, getting great scope looks. I didn't attempt to photograph it--too distant. Snowy Owls are again turning up in NJ, not with the frequency and quantity of last winter, but still good numbers have been in the state. I'd like to get one for Ocean County.

New birds for the year at Brig included Northern Harrier (which I'd have thought I had by now) an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron, and a couple of Savannah Sparrows, behaving as though they were White-throated Sparrows, kicking in the leaf litter. I never saw that behavior from Savannah Sparrow before; nor had Pete. He thought it was because the ground was frozen.

We ended the day watching the sun set along Cedar Run Dock Road, back in Ocean County. We were hoping Short-eared Owls would make an appearance. But the Harrier working the day shift clocked out and his nocturnal counterparts never showed up.

Still for a frigid day we did all right--36 species and 7 new ones for the year.
Brant    25
Canada Goose    300
Mute Swan    2
Tundra Swan    110
Gadwall    2
American Black Duck    100
Mallard    100
Green-winged Teal    5
Bufflehead    20
Hooded Merganser    6
Ruddy Duck    200
Great Blue Heron    2
Black-crowned Night-Heron    1
Black Vulture    1
Turkey Vulture    1
Northern Harrier    1
Bald Eagle    1
Red-tailed Hawk    2
Herring Gull    2
Great Black-backed Gull    1
Mourning Dove    3
Snowy Owl    1
Belted Kingfisher    1
Red-bellied Woodpecker    1
Downy Woodpecker    3
Blue Jay    2
Carolina Chickadee    1
Hermit Thrush    2
American Robin    5
Yellow-rumped Warbler    3
Savannah Sparrow    2
Song Sparrow    1
Dark-eyed Junco    1
Red-winged Blackbird    1
Boat-tailed Grackle    3
House Sparrow    2

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