I have the honor of being the official NJ Great Backyard Bird Count sighting reviewer. This involves reviewing reported sightings that flagged by the data entry system for various reasons. It may be an unusual high count of a regular occurring species, a vagrant sighting, or a very unusual sighting. The system is "smart" in that it automatically flags these records because it "knows" what species are likely to be seen on the GBBC in each state. I then get to follow up with the observers to check their sightings. In some case, the birds are rarities that have been around or just a nice sighting of 200 Horned Larks for example. In some cases, it is observer error. So far, I've only had 4 sightings to review. One was a Barnacle Goose that has been seen recently in Califon, NJ. I accepted this record for the GBBC, but it may not be accepted by the NJ Records Committee. I also had a report of 30 Little Gulls. The review site allows me to easily email the reviewers. I'm thinking this was either observer error or a data entry error. One Little Gull would be a nice sighting! I've also had a report of Yellow-bellied Flycatcher which is likely an Eastern Phoebe (not a bad GBBC bird itself) and a report of some Western Sandpipers which occur in small numbers on the coast in winter.
We had originally planned to go away this weekend, but passed on it in exchange for buying new kitchen appliances. So, we've been watching our yard birds. We've had the usual birds so far. We have a White-breasted Nuthatch hanging in the yard that isn't looking too healthy. He's spent a lot of time sitting in one place, but he moves along when approached. I hope he's ok because he's the only nuthatch we ever see in our yard and we've grown fond of him.