On Saturday I led a trip for the National Parks Service to Sandy Hook. I was filling in for the usual guy who runs this trip. In a short 2.5 hour trip, our group saw 64 species - not bad considering we didn't really bird the wooded areas there. We had a group of 9 people, from beginners to more experienced birders. Since we had limited time, I decided to bird Spermaceti Cove (a boardwalk overlooking the bay) and the northern end where the hawkwatch platform is.
Spermaceti Cove always delivered and the participants were amazed at the diversity of birds that come to this spot if you just stand and wait. We had wonderful views of Green Heron, Great and Snowy Egrets, both Yellowlegs, Willet, Red-breasted Merganser, and Belted Kingfisher. We also had an opportunity to compare the vocalizations of Fish Crow and American Crow. Here I am showing the physical differences between the two species, which isn't much:
The north end delivered as well. We had excellent comparisons of Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were everywhere, but were really difficult to get everyone on. The hawk flight was decent with fly-by Merlins, Sharp-shinned Hawks, a Cooper's Hawk, and a really nice perched Peregrine Falcon. For a short walk, we had great weather, nice participants, and some outstanding birds.