Sunday, March 10, 2013

Crossbills, Woodcock and futility

Actually the day was front-loaded with futility, since at one point I was 0 for 4 on chased birds.  First I missed Cackling Geese at a park in Parlin, then missed Barnacle Goose at a park in Jersey City, then missed Glaucous Gull at Budd Lake, and there were no sign of Snow Buntings (and also a dearth of snow) at Spruce Run Recreation Area in Clinton Twp.

Lincoln Park in Jersey City did hold a decent variety of waterfowl: lots of Canada Geese, Bufflehead, Red-breasted and Hooded Mergansers, Ruddy Duck, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Great Blue Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron.  Of particular note were 15 Killdeer being even more nervous than normal as a Northern Harrier hunted the area.

Budd Lake had one Red-breasted Merganser amongst the many Common Mergs and gulls of little interest.

Spruce Run had several (10's of) Lesser Black-backed Gulls which allowed study of some immatures of various ages (at least 1st winter and 3rd winter).  No white-winged gulls here either.  A Red-shouldered Hawk was calling and seen briefly near the boat launch.

The day's consolation prize were some cooperative White-winged Crossbills on Princeton University campus, not more than 25 yards from my office, feeding on the ground on fallen sweet gum seeds that line Washington Ave.  These birds have been here since late Jan, although with warming temperatures you've got to wonder how much longer they'll be inclined to stay.  (I've ended up seeing them each day on the 8th-11th).

Final birds of the day was at least four displaying American Woodcock at my favorite local patch near Princeton.  Atypically I actually had decent views of up to four song flights, since it's usually so dark when they really get going that the whole thing is a blur.  The usual peenting, twittering, chirping and the "grumbling" calls were heard.

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