Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Manasquan Reservoir 1/10--Orange-crowned Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler
On Saturday we had about 6 inches of snow and on Sunday the temperature was in the single digits with blowing snow, yet I was seeing reports from my friends of a lot of interesting birds, mostly up in Monmouth County. My feelings ranged from admiration for their fortitude to "they're obviously completely nuts" with a low-level current of jealousy running underneath. Yesterday the temperatures were still well below my comfort range but the winds were calm so I walked in the woods and lived to tell the tale. Today, it was supposed to warm up. This morning it was 6 degrees.

Still, I had to get out. I drove up to the Manasquan Reservoir, figuring I could be indoors, looking at their feeders until it warmed up a little. Guess what? They don't open up until 10 and I was there well before 9. The reservoir was 95% frozen, no surprise, but scoping it I found lots of Common Mergansers in the a narrow stretch of open water and a couple of juvenile Bald Eagles standing on the ice. Ducks oblivious to the eagles. Crows, not so much.

I walked around to the side of the Environmental Center where it was impressively fringed with icicles and set up the scope so that I could see the feeders. I didn't have to wait long (though to someone with my patience it seemed long) for the Orange-crowned Warbler to appear on the suet. Last year, in the winter, the same spot had this species and I was wondering if this was the same bird. I took off my two pairs of gloves, turned on my camera, got a couple of shots off and then the camera froze, I think literally. It wouldn't go off, it wouldn't shoot pictures, and the lens stayed fixed in its elongated position.

By this time it was just about 10 o'clock. I walked around the building and opened the door just as the custodian was getting to the end of the hall with his mop. In I walked with my snow-covered boots and I could hear him grumbling as I walked to the middle of the center where a window looks out onto the feeders. I pulled the battery from my camera and reinserted it and, miracle, the camera worked again. This allowed me, when the warbler cooperatively came back, to take some shots through the window that made it look like the bird was in an aquarium.

After that I drove to the other side of the park where I set up the scope and scanned the Common Merganser flock which turned out to be the proverbially mixed flock, with Ruddy Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Pied-bill Grebes, and a couple of coots in descending quantities. Surprisingly, no Lesser Scaups that I could find. With 29 species I was satisfied, so then it was on to try to find the next rarity.
Canada Goose  1000
Mallard  4
Ring-necked Duck  45
Bufflehead  4
Hooded Merganser  22
Common Merganser  400
Ruddy Duck  80
Common Loon  2
Pied-billed Grebe  14
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Bald Eagle  3     Juveniles on ice, adult in tree near what I assume is still nest site.
American Coot  2
Ring-billed Gull  25
Rock Pigeon   25
Mourning Dove  3
Downy Woodpecker  2
Blue Jay  2     Heard
American Crow  6
Carolina Chickadee  5
Tufted Titmouse  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  1     Heard
Orange-crowned Warbler  1     Olive back, yellow underparts, split eye-ring
Dark-eyed Junco  25
White-throated Sparrow  10
Song Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  1     Environmental Ctr
House Finch  6
American Goldfinch  1

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