Monday, February 23, 2009

Barnacle Goose, Barrow's Goldeneye - NYC and NJ

I went specifically looking for two species of waterfowl over the weekend of the 21st/22nd Feb - Barrow's Goldeneye in NYC and Barnacle Goose in NJ.

On Saturday, fighting with three traffic slowdowns and my own tardiness, I did a quick sprint to Warinanco Park in Linden for Barnacle Goose, failed to find it, but somehow did manage to get to Jamaica Bay WR in Brooklyn/Queens a little before sundown. There the male Barrow's Goldeneye was amongst a decent-sized flock of Common Goldeneye on the West Pond around 5pm. This was perhaps the largest flock of Goldeneye I recall seeing on the West Pond. Other ducks were in less impressive numbers, with relatively few (Greater) Scaup, one Canvasback and relatively few dabbling ducks. This was my first Barrow's Goldeneye in NYC, the life bird was the Ransom Beach/Long Island one, and I'd seen other ones at Sandy Hook (NJ) and in Colorado. Other interesting birds at Jamaica Bay included a hardy Great Egret but there wasn't much time to search for more given impending sunset.

Despite much uglier weather on Sunday I did a more diligent search of Warinanco Park in the midst of intermittent drizzle and heavy overcast, and it wasn't all that hard to find the Barnacle Goose there in a large flock of Canadas. The Barnacle Goose had intact halluxes, apparently intact primaries, and was neither more tame nor more wild than the accompanying wild Canada Geese - so at first blush this seems like a legit bird. It was being harassed a little by the Canadas, but otherwise was pretty comfortable in the flock.

Monday, February 16, 2009

NJ Coast

Starting not as early as I should have done, I braved moderately brisk conditions to wander down the breakwater at Barnegat Inlet. While Harlequin Ducks were present, shorebirds were notable by their absence - no Turnstones or Purple Sandpipers and a grand total of one Black-bellied Plover, two Sanderlings and a Dunlin. In the inlet itself, a Red-necked Grebe continued there after several days, one male Black Scoter, an immature male Surf Scoter and the usual suspects with several Long-tailed Ducks, both loons, and a few Red-breasted Mergansers. Over the other side of the inlet a small group of Common Eider were seen at a distance, and there were Great Cormorant on the end of the far jetty. Luckily I bumped into my friend Brian at the end of the jetty, so we hung out for a while before retreating to the parking lot.

After Barnegat I went south to Brigantine NWR which held all the usual suspects: Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Tundra Swan, Brant and Snow Geese, Northern Harrier. A nice find was a small flock of American Pipits.

North again from Brigantine I followed Brian's advice and stopped at Wells Mills County Park to view the feeders at the Nature Center, where the Pine Siskins were very tame but not very photographable.

Then I did a north coast pond tour, starting in Point Pleasant which didn't have much on the ponds there. Lake Como, Silver Lake (no Eurasian Wigeon) and Sylvan Lake were a little better, and I finally wound up at Lake Takanassee where the Common (Eurasian) Teal wasn't particularly hard to find, but so far not considered a separate species in the USA. And then I went back down to Silver Lake (Belmar) for one last look for the Eurasian Wigeon. Overall there was a decent collection of ducks: Snow Goose, Hooded and Red-breasted Merganser, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Canvasback, Black Duck, American Wigeon, Gadwall etc as well as Black-crowned Night-Heron and Great Blue Heron.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Raptors, raptors everywhere

Saturday was a bad day for prey in Lawrenceville. Despite the overcast I did a last minute wander to Pole Farm. At 4:30pm a Peregrine with prey flew up to the top of a pole along Federal City Rd near the small shopping center. At Pole Farm the Short-eared Owls were already up in the air at 4:30 with dark overcast conditions with little wind. At least four Northern Harriers were around, one or two Red-tailed Hawks) and finally on exiting Pole Farm I saw a Merlin perched in a tree near the entrance.

(I also saw Red-shouldered Hawk there earlier in the week).