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Field Trip Report

North Shore Field Trip Report,  Feb 2, 2003

Despite a very overcast all day mist with light rain and temperatures hovering just above freezing, 6 brave souls checked out the ponds, inlets, bays and shoreline of the north Jersey shore with mixed results.  Beginning at Manasquan Inlet, where the visibility was good for only a hundred yards beyond the beach, Common Loons, Black Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers and Bonapatre's Gulls were all that were found.  A Double-crested Cormorant also flew over the dunes.  A small flock of Boat-tailed Grackles was seen on the way to Old Sam's Pond, which is now a Bird Sanctuary called Lake of the Lilies. Due to the preceding weeks bitterly cold temperatures, most of the pond surface was covered in ice concentrating the birds in small areas of open water. Here we had 5 Canvasbacks, a female Greater Scaup amongst several Lesser Scaup and a Snow Goose. Stockton Lake produced good numbers of Gadwall, Bufflehead and Brant while Little Silver Lake held Hooded Mergansers and Wreck Pond had Coot, Ruddy Duck and a 2nd winter Lesser Black-backed Gull. 
The bird of the day was an Orange-crowned Warbler that flew over our heads and into the dune vegetation at Ocean and Brown in Sea Girt, where we followed it for some 100 yards, catching brief glimpses as it worked it's way through the shrubs. It was actually a two-warbler stop as we picked up a Yellow-rumped Warbler! 

Lake Como produced a Pied-billed Grebe and a pair of Shovelers while at Shark River Inlet, we had a large flock of Purple Sandpipers and smaller numbers of Sanderlings. Though the winds were out of the north east, and seemingly perfect conditions for bringing alcids close to shore, we continued to dip on these, finding only small rafts of scaups and Black Scoters, with a few Surf Scoters amongst them and a very small numbers of Long-tailed Duck and Common Loons - overall not many birds were seen in the ocean. 

Shark River held huge numbers of Brant and Mute Swans as well as a dozen roosting Great Cormorants and two Horned Grebes. An adult and a juvenile Tundra Swan were also seen but the highlight here was locating the reported Eurasian Wigeon off of Marconi Road, amongst good numbers of American Wigeon, as it was roosting. 

Heading north towards Sandy Hook, the ocean continued to disappoint and very few birds other than some Common Goldeneyes were on the Shrewsbury River in Monmouth Beach, where the Tufted Duck was located the previous afternoon. We picked up a couple of new species for the trip at Sandy Hook, including Northern Harrier, Tree Sparrow and huge numbers of Cedar Waxwings, including a flock of 600 plus birds. One final scan of the ocean produced our only Red-throated Loon, and even that was flying away from us! Where did they all go?

~ Adrian Binns 
 52 Species Seen:

Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe 
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Tundra Swan
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Northern Shoveler
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Northern Harrier
American Coot
Purple Sandpiper
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Mourning Dove
American Crow
Fish Crow
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
European Starling
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Boat-tailed Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow