Winter Birds Of Sandy Hook

Date: March 4, 2012

Location: Sandy Hook, NJ

Reported by: Joe Giunta

Our group of 10 birders left the NYC Audubon Center on 23rd St. at 10am. We arrived at our destination just a little after 11am and starting doing some birding. Our first stop was the ocean beach at lot ‘C’ where we saw many sea ducks including white-winged scoters, surf scoters, red-breasted mergansers, common loons and long-tailed ducks. We crossed the road and viewed the bay side where we saw many great cormorants and bay ducks including buffleheads. Next we visited the boardwalk trail opposite the visitor’s center. Here we saw more bay ducks including greater scaup. After this we did some land birding. We walked through the holly Forest seeing many Cedar waxwings, yellow-rumped warblers, and an overwintering catbird. While we were on the trail a mature bald eagle flew overhead. We had lunch at the picnic benches while overlooking the bay. We also picked up a very close killdeer on the lawn.

After lunch we went to ‘K’ lot and its observation tower. From the tower we had great views of Brooklyn’s Coney Island, the Verrazano Bridge, and the skyscrapers of lower Manhattan. As for birds we saw black scoters, northern gannets, and ring-necked ducks. Seeing the black scoter completed the entire scoter set. A very cooperative turkey vulture flew right over our platform. One last stop was made at the ferry terminal where we saw more northern gannets. We left the park and after making one stop along the way we arrived back at the Audubon Center a little after 5pm. A great trip had by all.

Species Seen: 39

Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Northern Gannet
Great Cormorant
Canada Goose
Brant
Mallard
American Black Duck
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Long-tailed Duck
Black Scoter
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Peregrine Falcon
Killdeer
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Tree Swallow
Cedar Waxwing
Carolina Wren
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
American Robin
American Crow
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
House Finch


Winter Birds of Barnegat

Date: Feb. 28, 2012

Location: Barnegat Light, NJ

Reported by: Joe Giunta

Our group of 12 birders left the NYC Audubon Center on 23rd St. at 9am. We arrived at Barnegat Light in about 2 ¼ hours. The weather was very good for birding at the Barnegat Lighthouse this year with the temperature near 50 degrees. We made the trip especially to see harlequin Ducks--and we saw a good number of them. We saw about 30 of these beautiful ducks very close to the rock jetties. We were able to approach so close that the binoculars were not necessary. The Harlequins were a life bird for some of our group. We also had the good fortune of seeing a purple sandpiper, also without the aid of binoculars. The inlet was filled with about 30 Long-tailed ducks. Both male and female Long-tails flew up and down the inlet and put on a very nice show. Also on the jetty were black-bellied plovers, dunlin and ruddy turnstones. All were approachable within 10 feet. The photographers in our group had a field day. We also saw black scoters, surf scoters and many common eiders. In the gardens near the lighthouse were saw many land birds including yellow-rumped warblers, cedar waxwings and boat-tailed grackles. We had lunch while we viewed the bay. With one stop along the way we arrived back at the Audubon Center at about 5pm.

Species Seen: 32

Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Canada Goose
Common Eider
Harlequin Duck
Long-tailed Duck
Black Scoter
Surf Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Turkey Vulture
Black-bellied Plover
Ruddy Turnstone
Dunlin
Purple Sandpiper
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Cedar Waxwing
Carolina Wren
American Robin
Black-capped Chickadee
American Crow
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Boat-tailed Grackle
Common Grackle
House Finch
House Sparrow


Winter Seals & Waterbirds EcoCruise

Date: Feb. 26, 2012

Location: NY Harbor, Swinburne & Hoffman Islands

Reported by: Gabriel Willow

I led another NYC Audubon/ NY Water Taxi Eco-Cruise yesterday (Sunday), the last one until the Harbor Heron cruises begin in June. The primary draw on these tours (which I'm happy to report have been sold out all Winter) are Harbor Seals that congregate around and on Swinburne Island, near the Verrazano Narrows. I was nervous that we wouldn't spot any seals as it's getting pretty late in the season for them, but happily we did have a couple bobbing in the water and peeking at the boat.

We also had a number of nice birds, the highlight of which for me were numerous adult Northern Gannets, some as far up the harbor as the Verrazano Bridge, which were plunge-diving, presumably for herring or shad. We also had two or three Red-throated Loons and several of the usual harbor duck species, and Purple Sandpipers on the rocks near Erie Basin. Notably absent were Great Cormorants, which I've seen no less than a half-dozen of on all previous tours this winter; I have to assume they're already retreating northward.Thanks to Joseph O'Sullivan for compiling the species list.

Species Seen: 16

Brant
Canada Goose
Gadwall
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid)
Mallard
Greater Scaup
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-throated Loon
Northern Gannet
Double-crested Cormorant
Peregrine Falcon
Purple Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Crow sp.


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