Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 7th: Brigantine to Belmar

Starting off at Brigantine NWR shortly after sunrise, I spent the first few hours taking pictures of the accommodating White-winged Crossbills that were feeding in a low (Black? Japanese) Pine in the parking lot area. Conditions were balmy and emphasized by early spring birds like Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Wood Duck and Hermit Thrush at flew over or hopped around the general area. Mixed blackbird flocks flew over, with at least some birds sounding like Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Then down to the impoundments were there were thousands of waterfowl: Brant and Snow Geese, dabbling ducks dominated by Northern Pintail and American Black Duck, thousands of Greater and Lesser Scaup with Redhead and Canvasback in the impoundments. All three merganser sp. were to be found. The most interesting find were two Short-eared Owls that were hunting near the south-west corner of the impoundments in broad daylight.

After Brigantine I went north to Barnegat Inlet which was swarming with humanity in this warm day. That and a sore left knee reduced my desire to walk out on the jetty too far. Common Loons were numerous, some in near breeding plumage, as were Long-tailed Duck. Other ducks included Harlequins, Black Scoter and Red-breasted Merganser. There were Red-throated Loon and Red-necked Grebe mixed in with the Common Loons, and Northern Gannet were working the coast offshore.

A brief visit to Wells Mills County Park showed that the feeders were quiet with no Siskins.

Then on the way north I visited Wreck Pond in Spring Lake, Lake Como and Silver Lake in Belmar. At Wreck Pond the most unusual bird was an American Bittern hunting at the edge of the phragmites. At Lake Como a small toy watercraft had limited the number of birds but one Redhead was in the small Canvasback/Lesser Scaup flock. At Silver Lake there was no Eurasian Wigeon but a few Americans and a large number of Brant.

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