Saturday, January 17, 2009

Round Valley, Alpha, Califon

Despite the biting cold I made an afternoon run to Round Valley Reservoir and while there were still water birds around (Common Loon, American Coot, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead) the number of passerines were very low indeed. Two interesting birds were a vocal Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and 8-10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls amongst the predominantly Ring-billed on the reservoir itself.

Headed further west to Oberly Road in Alpha near the PA border and found the expected Horned Lark flock in the fields. Amongst the somewhat flighty groups of Larks were a few Snow Buntings, and then when one flock settled close to me I spied a Lapland Longspur. Nothing was close enough for photographs, however and the light was particularly bad. Since it was relatively late in the day several large flocks of Snow Geese flew over, presumably from feeding grounds to the (south-east) en route to a roost at Merrill Creek Reservoir.

On the way back home I diverted via Califon and found the Raritan river to be frozen - not a huge surprise with overnight temps in the low single digits and daytime temperatures in the teens. In fact more reminiscent of the time I spent birding Duluth MN four years ago.....but without the owls.

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