Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring enters, slowly

Of course speed depends on where you are. Here around NYC/Philadelphia March has been called "the month of hope denied" with some justification. Nevertheless things are moving.

On Saturday 19th I decided a late day visit to Brigantine was warranted, given the habit of Short-eared Owls to fly during the day. The wind may have kept them down, but there was a fairly typical array of ducks (American Black Duck, N. Pintail, Mallard, GW Teal, N. Shoveler, Canvasback, Scaup sp., a single Hooded Merganser, Brant, Snow Goose). The waterfowl numbers were down from the late Feb visits there - ducks are migrating north. A more overt sign of spring was the pair of Great Egrets that I saw.

Another sign of waterfowl migration: the Ross's Geese have left Tom's River, as I found out while checking for them on the way back.

On Sunday 20th I went into Central Park, and found target bird #1: Fox Sparrow - itself an early spring migrant - but struck out on the Varied Thrush I wanted for the year list. Eastern Phoebe showed up as another early spring migrant, having been reported widely that week. Other than that it was the usual overwintering birds, with American Goldfinch in a range of molt states intermediate between basic and alternate, also Junco, Brown Creeper, Red-breasted Nuthatch. Everything, in short, pretty much on schedule and in the low numbers you also expect at this time of year. I also saw Fox Sparrow on a brief visit to the park on the early evening of Tuesday 22nd.

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