Sunday, January 30, 2011

Long Branch, Sandy Hook, Meadowlands, Alpha

A promising start to the day was seeing both the Red Crossbills and the White-winged Crossbills in Long Branch and taking more photos of them. After that the success rate went rapidly down hill.

Long Branch is not that far from Sandy Hook, so I went there to look at water birds. Both the ocean and the bay were relatively quiet, although there were certainly sea ducks moving around well out in the heat haze. Closer to shore it was deathly quiet, save one Black Scoter, a distant small flock of White-winged Scoter, and very little else. A few Horned Larks on the beach. On the bay side there were Red-breasted Merganser, Brant, Bufflehead and American Black Duck. What was notable, given the heavy snow cover, were flocks of American Robins feeding - I assume out of desperation - on the mudflats exposed by the tide.

Off I went, headed west towards the Meadowlands, site of Rough-legged Hawks after the hard weather pushed them south. I think you know where this is going - I saw Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawks, and one probable young Red-shouldered Hawk, but no Rough-legged, despite walking along the road for a while to scope thoroughly. I did see a few American Tree Sparrow, which were at least new for the year.

So finally I decided to make a sprint west along I-78 toward Alpha and the grasslands there, getting there not all that long before sundown. The snow cover there was extensive and the birds were being forced to the side of the road, including Horned Lark and Savannah Sparrows. However no Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs or the elusive Rough-legged Hawks were found.

Some days it works like this.

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