Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ocean & Atlantic Counties 2/7--American Oystercatcher, Willet, Great Horned Owl, 3 Sparrows

Mike Mandracchia and I did an impromptu Big Day, starting out just before dawn in Manahawkin, ranging over to Long Beach Island, down to Brigantine Island, then a loop around Brig (Forsythe) and finally ended up back in Manahawkin at the Bridge to Nowhere at and after sunset. Along the way I picked up 6 year birds including 3 new ones for the county.

We were hoping for owls and a Sedge Wren on Beach Avenue as we had during the Christmas Count but were just a little too late. However, we did get Great Horned Owl after sunset along Stafford Avenue after striking out on Short-eared Owls in the marshes around the burnt out bridge.

The other two highlights for me came on Brigantine Island (not to be confused with the wildlife refuge officially called E.W. Forsythe NWR (Brigantine Unit)), where, in the marshes we picked up American Oystercatchers and Willets (of the Western sub-species). We didn't find, alas, any Marbled Godwits, nor did we find the reported Red-necked Grebe.

At Barnegat Light we did one of my least favorite things, a long rock-hopping walk on the jetty for more than half a mile. We were rewarded though with 4 Harlequin Ducks, not new for me, but year birds for Mike and always a delight to see. A little bonus was an Ipswich Savannah Sparrow the color of sand which posed twice nicely on the rocks as we went out and came back.

Most of the water at Brig was frozen, so we only tallied 24 species there, a very low number, but we did better than expected on the upland portion of the trail with Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebirds, Field Sparrow, plus the "chwink" of an Eastern Towhee.

I think Mike had 62 species to my 60--I didn't bother listing Rock Pigeon and he heard cardinals that I didn't. Not a bad number for a mid-winter day when so much of the water we surveyed was "stiff."

My list:
Brant   225
Canada Goose   204
Mute Swan   4
Tundra Swan   200
American Black Duck   410
Mallard   55
Northern Pintail   20
Green-winged Teal   10
Canvasback   1
Greater Scaup   220
Common Eider   100
Harlequin Duck   4
Surf Scoter   1
Black Scoter   100
Long-tailed Duck   10
Bufflehead   250
Common Goldeneye   1
Hooded Merganser   32
Red-breasted Merganser   47
Ruddy Duck   220
Red-throated Loon   2
Common Loon   13
Horned Grebe   6
Double-crested Cormorant   4
Great Cormorant   5
Great Blue Heron   5
Turkey Vulture   6
Northern Harrier   5
Bald Eagle   1
Red-tailed Hawk   4
American Oystercatcher   10
Willet   20
Dunlin   258
Ring-billed Gull   1
Herring Gull   370
Great Black-backed Gull   3
Mourning Dove   1
Great Horned Owl   1
Hairy Woodpecker   1
Merlin   2
Blue Jay   3
American Crow   7
Carolina Chickadee   6
Tufted Titmouse   2
Carolina Wren   1
Eastern Bluebird   6
American Robin   34
Northern Mockingbird   1
European Starling   50
Yellow-rumped Warbler   3
Eastern Towhee   1
Field Sparrow   1
Savannah Sparrow   1
Song Sparrow   5
Swamp Sparrow   2
White-throated Sparrow   2
Dark-eyed Junco   6
Red-winged Blackbird   2
American Goldfinch   1
House Sparrow   1
One of the many Wawas (a birder's best friend) at which we stopped today
Photo: Mike Mandracchia

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