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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Sandra Keller

February 20, 2012
"North Shore", NJ

Our annual trip to the North Shore this winter proved to be a resounding success in spite of the record-breaking mild temps this winter. This weather has not been conducive to many species either coming south or staying around the area in large numbers. For example - gulls were few and far between with no Bonaparte's Gulls for the trip.

We did manage to track down most of the expected waterfowl species between Old Sam's Pond and Wreck Pond, though. Those two ponds are almost always good for ducks of one variety or another. Highlights being a hen Common Merganser which gave us excellent looks at plumage and bill structure, a lone Snow Goose feeding on the edge of Wreck Pond, and close Lesser Scaup on Old Sam's Pond that provided an id lesson to rule out Greater.

Ocean viewing was not too productive this year. Hardly anything was on the ocean - and only a few Gannets well off-shore. This is very unusual as the ocean is almost always the highlight of any trip to this region! One highlight was a small flock of Purple Sandpipers at the end of the Shark River inlet jetty providing close looks in the scopes.
Our target species this year was an alcid - Razorbill. This species had been reported inshore at the inlets off and on for the last few weeks before the trip. So why have Razorbills been close to shore in record numbers this mild winter?
Birds move for food - so for some reason, their food supply must be low off shore.

Anyway, We managed to spot one at the Manasquan inlet. And it did it's usual - the bird was underwater more than on it, but we all had "ok" views as we followed it up the inlet. Then it did something I am not used to - it stopped diving, stayed on the surface, and was only from 5 to 20 ft. from the south jetty - Wow! The looks and photo ops we had for the next 30 minutes as it drifted back down the inlet to the ocean will probably not be repeated for many years!

Thanks to all the trip participants. I enjoyed the pictures that were emailed to me. If any questions on this trip or the North Shore in general, please email me at sandrakeller@verizon.net".

Photographs by Joe Delesantro