Thursday, January 1, 2015

Marshall's Pond 1/1--Ross's Goose, Cackling Goose

They're all year birds on January 1. Before we even made it up to Sandy Hook for a "Kick Off Your Year List" field trip, I had 11 species. Alas, the Snow Goose I saw yesterday was not one of them; the pond on Schoolhouse was mostly frozen and only Canada Geese and a Great Blue Heron were at the back part where the water was open.

On the side of the road to the parkway we saw two Black Vultures eating something. Unusual to get Black Vulture before Turkey Vulture.

Sandy Hook had the expected species but there was one special bird--the group saw a Common Raven (not as uncommon as the eBird filters would have you believe) chasing a Red-tailed Hawk. The raven was almost as big, if not as big as the hawk.

I thought the raven would be the rarest bird of the day, but about noon a text came in that there were two rare geese down on our home turf, so after the group wended its way south to Lake Takanassee (which sounds like it should be a swamp in Mississippi) we drove down to the Seacourt Pavilion Shopping Center in Toms River. There, in what is known locally as Marshall's Pond, we found the previously reported Ross's Goose, a very hard goose to find in New Jersey and really difficult in Ocean County--my first lifer county bird of the year.

The bird was just sitting on a little sand bar when we arrived with its head tucked into its wing--not the most satisfying look. But then, as you can see, it perked up and gave us all the diagnostic field marks. The second county lifer took a little more work. By this time our friend Mike, who was helping with the field trip, arrived and we scanned through the 300 Canada Geese until Mike finally came up with one goose with a shorter neck and stubbier bill, just a bit smaller than the surrounding geese--a Cackling Goose. They can be maddening to find and identify because Canada Geese come in all sizes and for me to have 2 inside of a week is absolutely amazing. The light was fading, so a photo wasn't feasible. 

I started the year with 46 species, not a Cape May kind of start, but respectable. It also re-energized me for birding. I have to say that toward the end of last month I was starting to flag. The unexpected Snow Goose yesterday started to revive my spirits and today's raven and rare geese got me going again for another year of birding. 

The day's list:
Species         First Sighting
Ross's Goose     Marshall's Pond
Brant     Sandy Hook
Cackling Goose     Marshall's Pond
Canada Goose     Crestwood Village
Mute Swan     Sandy Hook
Gadwall     Marshall's Pond
American Black Duck     Sandy Hook
Mallard     Lake Takanassee
Green-winged Teal     Marshall's Pond
Surf Scoter     Monmouth Beach
Black Scoter     Sandy Hook
Long-tailed Duck     Sandy Hook
Hooded Merganser     Lake Takanassee
Red-breasted Merganser     Sandy Hook
Red-throated Loon     Sandy Hook
Common Loon     Sandy Hook
Pied-billed Grebe     Lake Takanassee
Red-necked Grebe     Sandy Hook
Northern Gannet     Sandy Hook
Double-crested Cormorant     Lake Takanassee
Great Cormorant     Sandy Hook
Great Blue Heron     Crestwood Village
Black Vulture     Dover Road, Berkeley
Turkey Vulture     Sandy Hook
Bald Eagle     Sandy Hook
Red-tailed Hawk     Sandy Hook
American Coot     Lake Takanassee
Sanderling     Sandy Hook
Bonaparte's Gull     Seven Presidents Park
Ring-billed Gull     Sandy Hook
Herring Gull     Sandy Hook
Great Black-backed Gull     Sandy Hook
Downy Woodpecker     35 Sunset Rd
Peregrine Falcon     Seven Presidents Park
Blue Jay     Crestwood Village
American Crow     Sandy Hook
Common Raven     Sandy Hook
Tree Swallow     Sandy Hook
Carolina Chickadee     35 Sunset Rd
Tufted Titmouse     35 Sunset Rd
White-breasted Nuthatch     35 Sunset Rd
Northern Mockingbird     Sandy Hook
Dark-eyed Junco     35 Sunset Rd
Northern Cardinal     35 Sunset Rd
House Finch     Sandy Hook
American Goldfinch     35 Sunset Rd

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