Posted by: DarkEyedJunc0 | January 22, 2011

Barnegat Beauties: Harlequins and more!

Monmouth County Audubon’s Trip to Barnegat Light was just the winter treat it always is. With temperatures in the teens (yes, the teens, let alone the windchill factor,) the trip was led by Laura and her friend Jay (one of the partners of  birdJam.)

Who knew lighthouses get sick?

Our group of 7 or so birders carefully navigated the icy, rocky jetty of Barnegat Bay (Well, I was too chicken, and walked the beach at one point.) Along the way, we got some great looks at the stars of the show, Harlequin ducks and Long-Tailed ducks (Old Squaw), decked out in all their beautiful ducky finest.

Also, close in, was a lone scaup with a very flat head (no insult intended, just to bring home the point that it was my life Lesser Scaup (yippeee!))

Those of us chickens walking the beach were able to get great looks at some black-bellied plover who were relatively brave, and came close, and  three sparrows on the lower part of the jetty, which we eventually deduced were Savannah, and upon further research, and conclusion based on their pale coloring and orangey legs, further classified as Ipswitch.

The bird list for the Barnegat portion of the trip includes:

  • Brant
  • Lesser Scaup  (L #208)
  • Harlequin Duck
  • Surf Scoter
  • Black Scoter
  • Long-tailed Duck
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Common Loon
  • Horned Grebe
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Black-bellied Plover
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Purple Sandpiper
  • Dunlin
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Great Black-backed Gull
  • Savannah Sparrow (Ipswich)

After a “warm-up” break at the Horizon Diner (and the best chocolate chip pancakes I have ever tasted, I might add,) only three of us (Laura, Jay and I) continued on to the Cedar Run portion of the trip, where we got some great looks at:

  • Peregrine Falcon (patiently sitting on a nesting platform, giving a great view to us)
  • Mallard
  • Greater Scaup
  • Bufflehead
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Northern Harrier
  • Great Black-backed Gull

Of course, the impetus for our visit to Cedar Run was Short-eared owls, which came up empty. That lent itself to the joke based on the old Pete Dunne story “okay, which one of you is not pure of heart.” (Pete uses the excuse that “in order to see an owl, one must be pure of heart.” and absence of the presence of an owl meant someone in the group wasn’t.) But regardless, overall, this bitter winter day was a birding success.

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