Saturday, March 27, 2010

Barnegat, or Always Check Wind Direction

Since I'm mainly waiting for spring to kick in, I thought I'd do another run to Barnegat and then head south. I get to the parking lot at 8am again, walk along the concrete path and look out along the jetty to find breakers crashing in and throwing 6-8 foot of spray onto the breakwater about half way along. The wind was from the north, pushing the waves at high tide onto the rocks.

Even though the temperatures weren't too punishing it would have been suicide to hike along that breakwater more than the 1/4 of the way I actually did. What I actually did see was Long-tailed Ducks milling around in mating flocks, Common Loons (at least two in full alternate), American Oystercatcher (paired), Brant, fly-by Dunlin, fly-by Double-crested Cormorant.

So I got to head south to the Brigantine division of Forsythe NWR relatively early. I wasn't expecting much from Brigantine, although there was some sort of odd flea market in the parking lot. Out on the drive the tide was quite high, and the ducks were seeking shelter from the wind. Three probably Tundra Swans with their heads down (and so only "probables") were the most interesting thing. Signs of spring included paired Osprey, Great Egret, Greater Yellowlegs and a singing Pine Warbler - a particularly bright male - in the parking lot. Hundreds of American Black Duck were present, including at least one hybrid. Although Snow Goose and Northern Pintail were conspicuous by their absence, there were also a few Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and Green-winged Teal. There was a small group of Double-crested Cormorant headed north into the wind along the coastal boundary.

I decided to head for home via the Carranza Memorial in Wharton State Forest for some non-bird photography. At one of the bridges over the streams an Eastern Phoebe was claiming territory and singing, otherwise the Pine Barrens were predictably quiet.

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