Saturday, March 7, 2015

What's Up Doc(k) 3/7--Eastern Meadowlark

Along Route 9 in Ocean County it seems that half the roads intersecting it have "bay" in the name (Bayview Parkway, Bay Ave, E. Bay Ave) and the other half "dock" (Dock Ave, Cedar Run Dock Road, Parker Run Dock Road, Dock Street). Pete & Mike run a trip that wanders around the area and Shari & I have come to call it the "What's Up Doc(k) Road Tour." Here are the highlights (and one lowlight) of today's trip.

Stafford Avenue, the road to the Bridge to Nowhere, was completely covered in snow and the marshes pretty much frozen, so the birds were scarce, except for a flock of robins that had found one small patch of exposed leaf litter in which to forage.  Mike called out that they had seen an Eastern Meadowlark, which of course, I missed, but on the way back out I saw three birds flying in the marsh with the telltale white on their tails and saw them land in the brush. I clearly saw the yellow on the breast, but I couldn't get anyone else on the birds because there were simply no landmarks to point out other than to say, look where I'm looking. Happily, the birds stayed in place long enough for me to get my scope out and put the birds into view for everyone. FOY for that species.

There was a decent amount of waterfowl in West Creek along Dock Road in Eagleswood, including 3 Canvasbacks, 3 Common Mergansers, a Ring-necked Duck and a Red-necked Grebe. Plus a Great Egret (one that is either an early arrival or just never left) flew by as I had my back turned, but I was able to get a a look at before it disappeared into the reeds.

The lowlight of the day was a hawk that we all in the 2nd car espied in a tree and thought sure was an Osprey. It flew off. When we caught up with Pete & Mike they had missed the bird, but on the way back out they found the hawk perched back in the tree we had seen. It had the posture of an Osprey, and the face looked to us like an Osprey, but better birders weren't fooled. It turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk, probably a juvenile since it had no red tail. Chagrin and embarrassment.

In the marshes off Great Bay Blvd we saw a juvenile Northern Harrier take a black duck in its claws and fly off with it. No one had ever seen that before. I didn't think harriers ate anything as big as ducks. They don't. The bird learned that ducks were not on its list of "things I eat" too late for the duck. A Herring Gull, which has a much longer list of acceptable foodstuffs (like "everything") tucked right into the abandoned carcass.

For the day I managed 40 species, which isn't bad considering how little water is open and how much snow still covers the ground.

Locations birded: Bryant Road, Ocean Township : Edwin B. Forsythe NWR--Bridge to Nowhere :
Edwin B. Forsythe NWR--West Creek Dock Rd. : Sands Point Preserve (Bay Pkwy) :
Sands Point--Dock Ave : Tuckerton--Great Bay Bvld. WMA : Vessel Dr--Ocean Twp :

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Peregrine Falcon
American Crow
Carolina Chickadee
American Robin
European Starling
Savannah Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Boat-tailed Grackle

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