Saturday, November 27, 2010

Barnegat, Brigantine

Saturday was sunny but breezy, and I headed out for a fairly traditional coastal route.

First, Barnegat Inlet (Barnegat Light) were at 7:44 the breakwater held a lot of people - mainly fishermen - out of all proportion to birding opportunities. The wind was already fresh, it was relatively cold, and there was a dearth of birds in the inlet itself so I went into quick scouting mode. Perhaps this was not totally unrelated to the extensive small boat traffic. Of interest was a fly-by immature Great Cormorant, and several small groups of Bonaparte's Gulls. Last winter there weren't many Bonaparte's Gulls around in general, so these were actually my year list ones. This winter there's a bonanza of them.

In search of more productive areas I went south to Brigantine (or if you want to be formal, the Brigantine Division of Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge). The wind had risen and was quite strong here, so there was little chance of finding a Cave Swallow. I did two tours around the impoundment and found decent numbers of ducks, a good flock of Tundra Swans (also a year bird) and Green-winged Teal and some shorebirds, a few of which were Western Sandpipers making for an implausible three year-bird day in late November. Northern Harriers were around in numbers, terrorizing the Teal again, but the Peregrines did not seem to be present or at least not hunting. A fuller list follows (Brigantine unless noted):

Snow Goose
Mute Swan
Tundra Swan (50-ish)
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Long-tailed Duck (Barnegat)
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-throated Loon (Barnegat)
Pied-billed Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant (Barnegat)
Great Blue Heron
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Black-bellied Plover
Western Sandpiper
Savannah Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark

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