So instead, I drove down to Eno's Pond in Forked River. I like the walk there, I like the various habitat (salt marsh, woodlands) and I seem to find a good mix of birds there. I also figured it would be one of the few places I could actually walk without worrying about breaking an ankle--the trails are snow covered there but don't seem to ice up as they have been everywhere else.
The first interesting species I found there was Common Merganser, a duck I haven't encountered there before. These big ducks aren't that usual in the county and I wouldn't expect to find them in the little ponds here but with most of the water in the vicinity iced up they take what they can get, I suppose.
There was also a large flock of Hooded Mergansers (the little hens you see in front of the drake COME) but that's a species I'd expect. While
I was walking the trail that runs along the first pond I heard the familiar cry of "doo-doo-doo" and quickly found my first Greater Yellowlegs, another bird that I've come to expect there, but one I'm always happy to see.
Far out over the marsh I saw a Bald Eagle and right over my head a Red-tailed Hawk flew, so after about a mile and half of the slushy trails I was satisfied. On the lawn in front of the parking lot I counted 92 robins. I was just getting into my car when I spotted another hawk flying overhead. Immediately I knew I had a good one--it had a white tail with a black band, dark "wrist" patches and white underwings. It was my Ocean County lifer Rough-legged Hawk. Now the day went from good to excellent. I didn't feel so bad about blowing off Barnegat Light.
So, what's this about "backyard bonus?" I got back home around 1 and was entering the day's sightings in eBird when I looked out the window at the thistle feeder, which I had just smeared with peanut butter. I hadn't seen "our" Pine Warbler around in a couple of days--the wrens had eaten all the peanut butter. What I saw was a finch. My first reaction was that I don't usually see the House Finch on the thistle feeder. Then I realized it wasn't a House Finch. I grabbed my camera and went into the other room, where I had a better shooting angle and miraculously I got good photos:
|Common Redpoll showing red cap.|
And smearing the peanut butter did payoff. The Pine Warbler showed up too: