Saturday, March 21, 2015

Brig 3/21--Blue-winged Teal, Golden Eagle

We went out on our monthly Audubon trip to Brig on this first full day of spring. Our snowstorm from yesterday had virtually no impact on the Wildlife Drive and all the water is open, so ducks were abundant including our FOY Blue-winged Teal, a handsome duck that for some reason is hard to find in big numbers. By big numbers I mean "6" which is what I counted today and which eBird found notable.

eBird also has many of the birds we saw listed as "rare" now that it is spring. The Golden Eagle we saw today, first hovering over a flock of a thousand Snow Geese that it scared up and then by itself, a dihedral speck in the sky, is rare almost all of the time in NJ, but I was surprised to find myself having to list Tundra Swan, Red-necked Grebe, Rough-legged Hawk and American Tree Sparrow in the rare category. It's not these birds are reading the calendar and saying they better head north today.

The real find today though was a bird not listed as rare but still pretty hard to get during the daytime--Short-eared Owl.
Short-eared Owl
Photo: Shari Zirlin
This was a case of "look for the birder, not the bird." Mike saw a birder looking intently through his scope out into the marsh, stopped to ask what he had and when he found out, pulled the whole caravan over and we all got fabulous looks at this normally crepuscular bird. 

Another highlight of the trip for me was identifying a very distant cormorant as a Great Cormorant. It was perched up on a post far out in the bay and was for the most part a silhouette, but I stayed on the bird until it moved a bit and then saw the tell-tall white brood patch on its flank and knew I had the bigger of the 2 birds.  

For the day we 54 species, including Shari's FOY favorite bird, American Oystercatcher.
Snow Goose  1000
Brant  100
Canada Goose  50
Mute Swan  5
Tundra Swan  10    .
Gadwall  4
American Wigeon  5
American Black Duck  10
Mallard  5
Blue-winged Teal  6    
Northern Shoveler  10
Northern Pintail  100
Green-winged Teal  10
Canvasback  40
Ring-necked Duck  5
Greater Scaup  10
Lesser Scaup  4
Bufflehead  25
Hooded Merganser  10
Common Merganser  4
Red-breasted Merganser  5
Red-throated Loon
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Horned Grebe  3
Red-necked Grebe  1     Large grebe with long dagger-like yellow bill, seen in Turtle Cove
Great Cormorant  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Turkey Vulture  2
Golden Eagle  1    
Northern Harrier  2
Cooper's Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk  2
Rough-legged Hawk  1     Dark morph, perched in tree, seen from Gull Tower parking area.
American Coot  1
American Oystercatcher  2
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  50
Great Black-backed Gull  10
Short-eared Owl  1
Northern Flicker  1     Heard upland portion
Peregrine Falcon  1
Blue Jay  1     Heard
American Crow  2
crow sp.  5
Carolina Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  1     Heard, upland portion
White-breasted Nuthatch  1     Heard, upland portion
American Robin  10
American Tree Sparrow  1     Singing along south dike. 
Song Sparrow  5
Northern Cardinal  1     Heard, parking lot
Red-winged Blackbird  15
Boat-tailed Grackle  5
House Finch  1     Heard, parking lot

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