On Saturday, I led my quarterly free "Birding for Beginners" walk at Sandy Hook for NJ Audubon. We had 4 participants signed up, but only 3 attended. Beth and I brought our 7-year old niece with us for her first birding experience. My mom joined us as well.
Beth and I woke up to an extremely foggy morning which concerned me. Lucky for us, the fog burned off quickly and it turned into a really nice, but hot, day. Migrants weren't abundant but we did find some really nice birds.
Showing the group a bird in my Sibley guide
At Spermaceti cove, we observed a perched Great Blue Heron, always a crowd pleaser. We also had distant Royal Terns, several Double-crested Cormorants, various gulls, and a few Black-bellied Plovers. I briefly saw a Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, but it disappeared before I got the group on it (as they are wont to do).
Distant Great Blue Heron
On a brief walk along the nearby bike path, we found a Red-breasted Nuthatch and a Black-capped Chickadee. The group needed a bathroom so we headed over to the beach pavilion. A trip to a nearby bathroom yielded a nice group of migrants with White-crowned Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, lots of Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Black-throated Green Warbler.
Our next stop was the area known as "Raccoon Alley" - a paved path through some woods. It was pretty quiet in there, unfortunately. I played my "other nature" card and pointed out butterflies and plants to supplement the lack of birds. Sandy Hook is working to eliminate the large Ailanthus and Japanese Knotweed populations. It was interesting to see the areas where they had obviously applied herbicide to kill these species. The only birds we managed to actually see were Cedar Waxwings and a Red-eyed Vireo.
Out last stop was the far north end. There we found our only raptors of the day - a Cooper's Hawk and a Kestrel, but not much else.
The day turned out to be pretty nice. Thanks goes out to our great group! Our niece also really enjoyed her day. She became quite adept at using her binoculars by the end of the day and she's looking forward to her next trip.