Saturday, January 28, 2017

North Shore Ponds & Inlets 1/28--Eurasian Wigeon, Redhead, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Lesser Black-backed Gull

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Manasquan Inlet
I awoke fifteen minutes before my alarm from a dream of someone blowing into the handlebars of a bicycle, making a hollow, bassoon-like tone. When I still heard the "hoo-hoo" of the dream with my eyes open, I realized that it had been induced by 2 Great Horned Owls calling to each other from the woods behind the house. They must have been fairly close, or very loud, in order to wake me up through the closed windows.  (The idea itself of bicycle as musical instrument was left over in my brain from seeing a YouTube video of Frank Zappa "playing" a bike on the old Steve Allen show, long before he was famous.)

Had to get up early so we could get to Mike's house and then drive with him to Point Pleasant Beach, the starting point of Carol Hughes' geographically challenged southern North Shore trip, in which we wended our way from Manasquan Inlet up to the Shark River, stopping a various ponds and look out spots along the way. Starting on the Ocean County side of the inlet we found, thanks to a tip from  fellow birder, a very nice looking Lesser Black-backed Gull, though, because it seemed a little larger than normal, or its head shape wasn't quite right, created some controversy before we settled on that species and not something more exotic and exciting. I never thought otherwise, using Occam's Razor of the simplest explanation usually being the right explanation.

While the weather was sunny, at first, and in the low 40's, the wind made it seem much colder, and it was on the Monmouth County side of the inlet where the cold began to seep into my bones. The only real bird of interest on that side was a Greater Scaup at the very tip of the jetty.

We stopped at Wreck Pond with nothing out of the ordinary, then moved on to Spring Lake with similar results, though on the ocean side where the outlet pipe juts into the water about a hundred feet we came upon a mixed flock of shorebirds with some Purple Sandpipers in it, a county bird for me.

Every beach town from Manasquan to Long Branch seems to have its own "lake" and after a while they all seem to blend into one, so it's good to have eBird keep track of where you are for you. The next town up, Lake Como, we birded the eponymous lake where someone's sharp eye espied a Black-crowned Night Heron juvenile perched at the bottom of a conifer.

The next lake, Silver Lake, in Belmar, produced a fairly difficult NJ duck--a drake Redhead. These lake are all hit and miss. Sometimes they have nothing, sometimes they're loaded and there don't seem to be any reasonable explanations as to why one lake a mile down the road is empty water and another, like this one, is full of shovelers, wigeons, Gadwalls, and even one American Coot.

We made a stop at the Shark River inlet, which didn't have anything we hadn't seen before, then took a turn around Sylvan Lake in Avon-by-the Sea (pronounced, pretentiously, "Ahvon," not like the cosmetics company) where we saw our 2nd Lesser Black-backed Gull of the day. I can go a year without seeing one of these species and today I get two, in two different counties. That's what makes it all interesting. This bird, we agreed, was a third cycle bird, meaning it was not quite mature. It certainly wasn't as handsome as the first one this morning.
Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3rd cycle
Our final stop was the Shark River estuary. It was very low tide and geese and ducks abounded, but Carol had only bird in mind which we had to wind around the roads bordering the river to get to the proper viewing point, but it was worth the drive, because in with about 200 American Wigeons was an oxymoronic common rarity, a drake Eurasian Wigeon, a bird that has been "continuing" there since late last year. It was much too far out to take a picture of it, but the scope views were excellent.

With that the trip ended on a high note. For the day I had 41 species, not counting the wake-up owls.
1): Manasquan Inlet
(2): Manasquan Inlet North Side
(3): Wreck Pond
(4): Spring Lake-9-13 Brown Ave - 40.1392x-74.0271
(5): Spring Lake Park
(6): Lake Como
(7 & 8): Silver Lake and Ferruggiaro Park
(9): Shark River Inlet
(10): Sylvan Lake
(11): Shark River

403 Brant -- (2),(9),(11)
220 Canada Goose -- (5),(6),(10),(11)
100 Mute Swan -- (11)
27 Gadwall -- (8),(11)
1 Eurasian Wigeon -- (11)
221 American Wigeon -- (7),(8),(10),(11)
105 American Black Duck -- (2),(7),(11)
13 Mallard -- (5),(7)
40 Northern Shoveler -- (8)
1 Northern Pintail -- (11)
1 Redhead -- (8)
1 Greater Scaup -- (2)
4 Black Scoter -- (2)
12 Long-tailed Duck -- (1),(2),(9)
34 Bufflehead -- (2),(3),(4),(11)
23 Hooded Merganser -- (6),(7),(8),(11)
17 Red-breasted Merganser -- (2),(3),(6),(11)
4 Ruddy Duck -- (7),(11)
1 Red-throated Loon -- (1)
30 Common Loon -- (1),(2),(4),(9),(11)
1 Northern Gannet -- (1)
1 Double-crested Cormorant -- (5)
4 Great Blue Heron -- (3),(8),(11)
1 Black-crowned Night-Heron -- (6)
1 Bald Eagle -- (11)
1 Red-shouldered Hawk -- (6)
1 Red-tailed Hawk -- (11)
1 American Coot -- (8)
14 Sanderling -- (2),(4),(9)
20 Dunlin -- (4)
5 Purple Sandpiper -- (4)
44 Ring-billed Gull -- (1),(3),(6),(7),(10),(11)
1467 Herring Gull -- (1),(2),(4),(5),(6),(9),(10),(11)
2 Lesser Black-backed Gull -- (1),(10)
102 Great Black-backed Gull -- (1),(2),(3),(9),(10),(11)
7 American Crow -- (3),(6),(8),(11)
1 American Robin -- (4)
50 European Starling -- (3)
1 Song Sparrow -- (9)
1 Red-winged Blackbird -- (4)
11 House Sparrow -- (6),(8)

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