Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Snowy CBC

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Let's get this out of the way: The title of this post is not a reference to any large white owls that we found. It's a reference to the winter wonderland that was the 34th Sandy Hook Christmas Bird Count. About 3 inches of snow fell Friday in this part of NJ, followed by freezing rain. This made the roads at Sandy Hook equivalent to the ice at Madison Square Garden and the beach and dunes look like an arctic wasteland. As usual, our area was the "north end" of Sandy Hook which includes the infamous "death march" - a 3/4 mile walk out to the Sandy Hook's northern tip looking towards New York. Did I mention it's probably the windiest spot on Sandy Hook too? As my buddy Mike put it, it's like we've been banished to Siberia. You can see our area in the map above.

The wintery conditions turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The frozen sand made traipsing up and down the dunes much easier than walking on the usual soft sand. Unfortunately, the birds were smarter than us. Birds were scarce, but the ones we found were terrific. Highlights form our group included:

  • A Common Moorhen that's been around throughout the fall - a count first!
  • The only Ruby-crowned Kinglets of the whole count
  • The only Orange-crowned Warbler
  • The only American Coots
  • A young Red-shouldered Hawk - a nice winter bird at Sandy Hook that was also seen by another group
  • 100's of Long-tailed Ducks - a ferry drove by in the distance and sheets of Long-tailed Ducks leapt off the water to escape it
Our area found 60 species. The count raked in 106 species, not near the high numbers of the last few years, but good considering the conditions. All in all, it was a chilly but fun day out.

PS - in case you're wondering, I didn't bring my camera because the weather report called for icy rain. I brought a small point-and-click, but forgot the memory card. D'OH!


P. Ollig said...

Heh...I did that (brought the camera but forgot the memory card/battery/etc) several times. Including on a trip to Madera Canyon where the Elegant Trogon perched on a branch less than 10 feet from me for five minutes.

I'm still kicking myself over that one.

Sounds like you had a successful CBC! Ours isn't until next Sunday, and hopefully the temps will climb above zero by then.

corey said...

And in a close race, Queens edges Sandy Hook by a bird...that means you owe me a beer, right?

Patrick Belardo said...

Aw man! I see an O'Doul's in your future.

Mel said...

Better luck next time :S

¡¡¡Feliz Navidad!!!
Merry Christmas!!!
Hugs from Peru,