Friday, January 15, 2016
Just a beautiful morning there today. Birding began on the drive out with 2 adult peregrines on the Surf City water tower. While there the police chief shared that they have been nesting there for the past 7 years. Closeup photos revealed both birds are banded with DEP tags. Also saw a cool territory defense and "eechuk" calls when a Cooper's flew past. Further down I had an additional 2 peregrines on the Barnegat Light water tower. These two were definitely not the same birds as they both had empty crops and were untagged as far as I could see. Due to high winds I birded the trails first as the day warmed up. I had 2 yellow-rumped warblers and this Cooper's hawk lurking in the scrub. While there I met two women who were there to see the Harlequin ducks. One of them was a bit older and it would be a lifer for her. So I shepherded them to the jetty and lo and behold a lone harlequin male had made his way toward them, saving her the treacherous journey! Here's a pic of them out on the jetty after. Along the way I had many common loons, gulls of intermediate plumage, 3 harriers across the bay in Island beach and 2 what I think are red-breasted merganser females. Also ran into a guy who said he had a harbor seal feeding along the jetty. At the tip were large rafts of ducks shifting about. Black scoter, surf scoter, long-tailed ducks, 2 red-throated loon and 2 common eider! Driving back along route 9 I stopped in Tom's River and found the usual raft of about 25 canvasbacks along with about 50 ring-necked ducks. There were also about 100 mallards and 12 bufflehead.