Friday, January 15, 2016

Riverfront Landing 1/15--Greater Scaup

One of the many bad angles to view ducks at Riverfront Landing
I started the birding morning over at Riverfront Landing in Toms River, figuring to get the Bird of the Day out of the way. Canvasbacks are pretty reliable there--problem is finding the right angle to view them. When I first arrived I saw plenty of Ruddy Ducks (in the photo you can see ruddies, a Mallard, and Ring-necked Duck if you click on it to make it large) from the parking lot, but no Canvasbacks. I moved over to the park itself and still didn't see any of those big ducks, but did come up with a couple of Buffleheads and two species that weren't really on my mind--Lesser Scaup and FOY Greater Scaup. I spent more time than I like separating the two, but finally convinced myself by head shape that both species were present. They are devilishly hard to distinguish but once I saw the "peaks" of the head I was fairly confident in my i.d. Ring-necked Ducks mixing with them were both a help and a hindrance.

I moved up the block to the area of the private marina (don't even think about entering here), standing on the high ground of the sidewalk and was finally able to locate the Canvasbacks. Of course, I couldn't get a picture of them, but what a nice duck!  Big, with a red head and huge, slooping, swan-like bill, black & white body.  100 pts if you shoot one, which means you're done for the day. Read any Edith Wharton novel, or really any American novel of manners set in the late 19th century and you're sure to come across Canvasbacks on the menu when dinner is described.

Eastern Bluebird on mysterious measuring devices

From there I was going to go over to Cattus Island for my vigorous walk, but the park was closed today for prescribed burning, so I continued north a little bit and walked the trails at the Ocean County Parks Offices. The bay was pretty much frozen, so there wasn't a lot of variety on the water, and the woods were fairly quiet. However, when I came out of the woods and walked the large open field, birds were actively feeding in the grass including this female Eastern Bluebird.  Lots of of yellow-rumps, robins, and blackbirds around the offices too. 

Ruddy Duck, Marshall's Pond
Next stop was Marshall's Pond, just for the heck of it and too see if the Redhead was still there. It was, completing the aythya sp sweep. I didn't spend a lot of time sorting through the geese, which were all standing on the frozen eastern end of the pond. That cut back on the number of ducks in the pond; a single Ruddy Duck seemed out of place and a bit lonely considering the big flocks of them that are around>

I was on my way home when I decided one more stop was in order, so I continued along Dover Road over to Bamber Lake. Apparently, earlier in the day the place was loaded with birds, but by noon, all I found were 18 Tundra Swans and 4 Hooded Mergansers. I'm keeping track of the Tundra Swans whereabouts so I can use them in a pinch for Bird A Day. I totaled 36 species for the morning, which considering we found 40 all day in Cape May yesterday, seems pretty good to me.
Tundra Swans, Bamber Lake

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