Sunday, November 13, 2016

Barnegat Light SP 11/13--Lapland Longspur

Lapland Longspur, Barnegat Light SP
On Friday I went to Barnegat Light SP, hoping to get its specialties but came back with only one--a lone drake Harlequin Duck. Today, I wasn't planning on going back, but on the way to Manahawkin WMA I thought, "What am I going to see there that I haven't already seen," and when the answer came back nothing, I continued on Rt 72 and drove north on LBI to return to the Light.

Glad I did, though I wasn't feeling that way at first. I was only doing a little better than Friday (4 Harlequin Ducks and one drake Surf Scoter among the remnant rocks of the old 8th St jetty), when I met my friend Becky coming up the beach. She told me she had sighted a couple of really attractive birds, told me where to look, and I was off down the beach. Of course, I had no luck. I was standing at the edge of the dunes, brooding, thinking that at least if I hadn't seen Becky my day would have been ruined later, after I saw her eBird list instead of right now, when I saw her returning to the main jetty. "Well," I thought, "she seems to be a bird magnet today, let's go back there." Sure enough, as I was walking back toward her, she called me from the jetty. I started to run in the sand, put my scope down, and climbed up on the jetty. She had spooked the bird she wanted me to see by calling, but after a few minutes of rock hopping (I must have really wanted this bird, because I hate walking on the jetty) we were able to re-locate a very pretty Lapland Longspur. Lapland Longspur is a bird I very rarely see in NJ (or anywhere else for that matter) so I was extremely happy to add it to the year list. Then, while we were still standing on the rocks a white bird with black patches on it wings zipped by, chittering: A Snow Bunting, first one I've seen in the county this year. It went by so fast I wasn't sure of what I'd seen, but once Becky played me its vocalization, I knew what I'd had.

Finally, a largish flock of shorebirds flew over the jetty and landed on the rocks of the old one (it was fairly low tide, so those old jetty was visible). Scoping into the glare I saw that they were Purple Sandpipers, so that pretty much swept the table of the 4 truly cool birds you can get at Barnegat Light, save Common Redpoll which is very rare.

I made a couple of my usual stops on the bayside afterwards and then, still needing birds and exercise I decided to drive all the way down to Holgate and walk around a mile on the beach to see what I could come up with. That's about a 20 mile drive at 35-45 MPH, but at least the traffic lights are all just blinking orange. Down there I wasn't doing well on the bayside at all, but the beach had copious amounts of Sanderlings along with a few turnstones, Dunlins, and Black-bellied Plovers. For the day I had 36 species (birding a beach is pretty much like birding a desert--you don't get the variety you'd get in a marsh or forest) and the day list looks like this:

Checklists included in this summary:
(1): Barnegat Lighthouse SP 8:53 AM
(2): Bayview Marina 11:48 AM
(3): Bayview Ave Park 12:05 PM
(4): Holgate  1:01 PM

652 Brant -- (1),(2),(3),(4)
16 Canada Goose -- (2),(3)
6 American Black Duck -- (3)
12 Mallard -- (2)
9 Northern Pintail -- (3)
4 Harlequin Duck -- (1)
1 Surf Scoter -- (1)
27 Black Scoter -- (1)
170 Bufflehead -- (3),(4)
1 Great Cormorant -- (1)
2 Double-crested Cormorant -- (1)
1 Great Blue Heron -- (2)
1 Red-tailed Hawk -- (1)
4 Black-bellied Plover -- (4)
8 Ruddy Turnstone -- (4)
300 Sanderling -- (4)
4 Dunlin -- (4)
15 Purple Sandpiper -- (1)
3 Laughing Gull -- (1),(4)
18 Ring-billed Gull -- (1),(2),(3),(4)
1325 Herring Gull -- (1),(2),(3),(4)
52 Great Black-backed Gull -- (1),(2),(4)
3 Forster's Tern -- (1)
30 Rock Pigeon  -- (2)
16 American Crow -- (1),(2),(3),(4)
20 Fish Crow -- (2)
1 American Robin -- (1)
5 European Starling -- (1)
1 Lapland Longspur -- (1)
1 Snow Bunting -- (1)
1 White-throated Sparrow -- (1)
1 Savannah Sparrow -- (1)
2 Northern Cardinal -- (1)
2 Common Grackle -- (1)
2 Boat-tailed Grackle -- (2)
1 American Goldfinch -- (1)

Longspur in flight

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