Friday, February 6, 2009

Settling for Barnegat…

A planned trip up north across the border was put on hold for a number of reasons, with the weather and exhaustion being just a few of the factors. A few of us who had our hearts set on going out decided that we needed a full day’s worth of birding to make up for the disappointment and so we settled for Barnegat. Barnegat Inlet, located in NJ, is renowned among birders as a great spot for waterfowl and provides excellent opportunities for good bird photography. We left Queens NY around 9:30 a.m. and arrived at Barnegat around 12:30 p.m. Along the way, we had seen Turkey Vultures, Starlings and Red-tailed Hawks. Once in the parking lot, we grabbed a quick bite in the car then unpacked our gear. We made sure we were bundled up with our coats, hats and gloves; after all, this was winter birding and it would be cold near the water. We headed towards the walkway past the lighthouse and immediately, saw Red-breasted Mergansers. Walking a few yards along the walkway, Denis and I spotted a Harbor Seal…my second seal in a few weeks as I had one recently at Floyd Bennett field. Scoping the opposite shore, I picked up numerous Long-tailed Ducks, Surf Scoters, Black Scoters and Common Loons bobbing up and down in the surf. Clambering over the rails, I headed onto the rocks of the jetty; by now, Don and Denis had already moved onto the rocks and were headed towards the tip. Barbara and I, who were taking our time, had a nice encounter with 6 Ruddy Turnstones who flew in and perched on a rock giving us fantastic looks. Making my way across the rocks, I spotted Black-bellied Plovers and Dunlins hanging around the shallow pools of water caught in rock cavities. On my right near the shore, Sanderlings were scurrying along ahead of incoming waves only to chase the receding waves in search of stranded invertebrates. Near the edge of the rocks, I came upon a Black Scoter, hanging out with Long-tailed Ducks and I was able to get some photos. Don who by now had reached the end of the jetty, called me on my phone to let me know that he and Denis had come upon a nice flock of Harlequin Ducks. I increased my pace on the rocks and soon came upon the flock. They were close to the rocks and we were able to get really good photos of them. We continued shooting for a while before heading back along the jetty. Don and I ventured into the dunes in search of Ipswitch sparrows, but we did not land any. I went back onto the walkway and continued photographing Red-breasted Mergansers; while there, the seal (assuming it was the same one spotted earlier) put in another appearance and this time I was able to get photos. We headed back to the car around 3:30 p.m. and were contemplating searching some pine groves for Owls; however, we learned that the lot was being closed for the day, so we decided to call it a successful trip and headed back home. The consensus was the trip was worth it and another day at Barnegat may be in the works sometime soon. Share with Bookmark and Share

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