Friday, January 9, 2009

Barnegat area: Eared Grebe, jetty regulars, etc.

Eared Grebe, Barnegat Twp. Municipal Dock. Photo by Tom Reed.

A trip to the Barnegat/Long Beach Island area today was highlighted by a previously-reported Eared Grebe at the municipal dock in the town of Barnegat (the actual town on the mainland, not Barnegat Light). The bird was originally found during the Barnegat Christmas Bird Count on Sunday. This somewhat-blurry picture shows the main features of the species: peaked forehead, thin bill, humpbacked appearance and darker overall tones (compared to Horned Grebe), among other details. This bird was very easy to view, never being farther than 20 feet out in the water.

{Directions: Take Garden State Parkway exit 67 to Bay Avenue, east into the town of Barnegat. Continue on Bay Ave. over a small bridge, and past a couple of marinas. Just after these marinas is the Barnegat Municipal Dock, which features a two-level pavilion and a large parking area. Park here and look for the grebe from the walkway along the bay.}

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park featured its usual winter fare during the late morning hours, including the characteristic northwest wind at 20-25mph. Harlequin Ducks were largely hiding out of sight, minus a couple pairs which occasionally peeked out from the rocks. A passing Bald Eagle flushed nearly 1,000 gulls from the inside of the inlet, the oddest of which we could find was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. 2 Common Eiders were gleaned from a scoter flock at the end of the north jetty, and almost 150 Red-throated Loons passed by offshore- an impressive number for January. One or two 'Ipswich' Savannah Sparrows were creeping through the jetty cracks, and a single Horned Lark flew over. A single wind-blown Tree Swallow blasted north across the inlet to cap off the outing.

As an aside, some time spent searching the back bays behind Barnegat Light failed to turn up the Western Grebe that had been reported there the day before.

In some more local news, at least one of the Rufous-type Hummingbirds continues at 711 New England Road, and the Cackling Goose was spied again on Lily Lake. Steve Rodan reports that 3-4 Short-eared Owls were hunting at Jake's Landing this evening, including one bird that flew right over the parking area.

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