Sunday, January 9, 2011

More North Shore birding

Since my major activity on Saturday was wrangling snow, I did venture further afield on Sunday. I went back to NJ's north shore, ranging between Long Branch and Point Pleasant.

In Deal I made two visits at Roosevelt Ave looking for the reported Red Crossbills, but although they had been seen they were not present either time. Since there are a lot of pines in the area there was no particular reason to hold them there. In the sea off the fishing access it was a little more productive: 20+ Great Cormorants, Common and Red-throated Loon and a small group of adult Northern Gannets.

I decided to head north to Long Branch and Seven President's Park to search for the White-winged Crossbill. By this time the wind was quite strong and gusting, so I came up empty on the crossbill but did find Red-breasted Nuthatch, a flyover Black Vulture harassed by crows, and a single Sanderling on the beach. On the way back down to Deal I circle Lake Takanassee and found a small group of Green-winged Teal with a male Common Teal/Eurasian GW Teal in with them. While the head pattern wasn't as striking as it might have been the horizontal flank markings were very obvious and there was no indication that it's a hybrid - this bird has been seen for a few years at this site in the winter. Very little open water there, so the only other things were a male Ring-necked Duck and a Mute Swan.

I'd noticed waterfowl coming in off the Atlantic during the day - perhaps increased snow coverage up north (or on Long Island) was inducing a shift further south. Either that or they were getting blown way offshore by the strong wind.

Back down at Deal there was nothing new except two Red-breasted Nuthatches at Roosevelt Ave so I headed down to Manasquan Inlet and Point Pleasant. On the north side the wind was just as the right angle to make it howl across the jetty, making birding there quite unpleasant. Purple Sandpiper, a couple of Sanderlings, Common and Red-throated Loon, Brant were in evidence. I headed over to the jetty on the southern side (in Point Pleasant) and found that the beachside development attenuated the gale a little so that birding on the end of the jetty was tolerable. An immature male Common Eider was here, more Purple Sandpipers, Horned Grebe. Red-necked Grebe had been seen - and I might have seen one in the air - but I couldn't find one in the water. Best birds was a flock of 14-15 Razorbills flying south. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a flock that size in winter, and in fact these may well be my first ones seen from dry land in NJ.

I'd been battered by quite enough icy air for one day, so I headed home rather than try my luck down at Barnegat Inlet.

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