Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWO Snowy Owls, Harlequins, Gannets o' Plenty

It was a pleasant afternoon to be out birding along the Atlantic Coast, and the results weren't bad, either-

At the Two Mile Beach unit of Cape May NWR, there were 3 Harlequin Ducks- a male and two females. The beautiful ducks, while common at Barnegat Light, are a scarce species elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic, including the Cape May area. The trio was feeding along the north side of the northern-most jetty at Cold Spring Inlet, where there were also several individuals of all three scoter species, numerous Long-tailed Ducks, a few Common Loons and a handful of Bonaparte's Gulls. Razorbills are starting to appear in the region, and while there were none there today, this inlet is perhaps the best place to look for alcids in Cape May. 

Also of interest was a large and ever-growing feeding frenzy of Northern Gannets about a mile offshore, at least 800 strong. Small groups of Gannets were continually flying in from farther offshore to join the feeding flock, which made for quite a sight. There was also a steady trickle of southbound scoters offshore, comprised primarily of Black Scoters.

Stone Harbor Point provided quite a bit of excitement at dusk, highlighted by TWO Snowy Owls. The first bird, which appeared to be a male, was sitting atop a dune on the far west side of the point for most of the early evening. The second bird, a heavily-marked female, appeared at last light, flying in from the dunes in the southwest corner before proceeding to hunt the southern end of the point. There was also a bit of activity offshore, including all three scoters, one southbound flock of scaup and three Horned Grebes. 

No comments: