Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sandy Hook & North Shore

This past weekend I decided to visit Sandy Hook to look for the trio of rarities (Bohemian Waxwing, Orange-Crowned Warbler, Barrow's Goldeneye). Once again Dana Patterson from the Edison Wetlands Association joined me. Unfortunately the wind was worse than the forecast predicted, and looking for the Goldeneye proved to be uncomfortable at best, painful at worst. We did see a rather large group of Long-Tailed Ducks floating on the water, though, along with a Lesser Black-Backed Gull and a Great Cormorant in Horseshoe Cove. The Bohemian also alluded us, although a gentleman had seen it earlier in the day. Finally we tried for the Orange-Crowned Warbler, which we had apparently missed by about 5 minutes. We searched every individual Goldenrod on Plum Island three or four times before finally deciding to give up and head south.

Lake Takanasee produced some great looks at the Common ("Eurasian") Teal alongside Green-Winged Teal in the fourth lake. The second lake was busy with a large group of Hooded Mergansers, American Wigeon, and a pair of pied-billed grebes. The third and fourth lakes also held a handsome Gadwall, Ruddy Ducks, Ring-Necked Ducks, Black Duck, and American Coots.

Photograph by Bill Lynch (c) 2009

The Eurasian Wigeon was swimming laps around the island in Silver Lake when we arrived. There were also plenty of Black-Crowned Night Herons roosting, and one Great Blue Heron tucked away in the vegetation. From here we moved on to Lake Como which added Canvasback and a single Redhead to our list for the day.

Our final stop was the Shark River Marina. We hung out watching three loons fish for awhile, although it seemed like the most productive member of the group was actually catching crabs. If anyone has a clue on the species, please let me know!

Photograph by Bill Lynch (c) 2009

Here's a close-up of the prey (click for an even larger image):

Photograph by Bill Lynch (c) 2009

A tough day in terms of Sandy Hook birds, but we ended up spotting over 50 species in all, including tons of great-looking waterfowl. Watching loons that were only 10 feet off the rocks was the perfect way to cap off another winter birding outing.

4 comments:

Alison.Fragale@Gmail.com said...

I believe the loon is a Pacific Loon.
The following is from http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i0100id.html
Other species of loons can be quite similar in appearance. In alternate plumage the paler gray head differentiates it from the darker-headed Common and Yellow-billed Loons while the dark throat separates it from the Red-throated Loon. In basic plumage it has much more contrast between the dark nape and white throat than the other species. In all plumages it has a straighter, not upturned bill unlike the Red-throated and Yellow-billed Loons while the Common Loon has a larger bill. The Pacific Loon was formerly considered conspecific with the Arctic Loon. The Arctic Loon is very similar in appearance, has a green throat patch in breeding plumage, a larger bill and whiter flanks.

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Julie said...

The Pacific Loon was formerly considered con specific with the Arctic Loon.
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Jenifer said...

In alternate plumage the paler gray head differentiates it from the darker-headed Common and Yellow-billed Loons while the dark throat separates it from the Red-throated Loon.

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