North Shore rarities dominate New Year

13 01 2011

Garden State birding in 2011 has, up to this point, been focused squarely on New Jersey’s “North Shore“.  The stretch of coast from Sandy Hook down through the Point Pleasant area is one of the prime birding locations during the winter months, but for the last few weeks it has produced more rarities and interesting birds than usual.

Razorbill on its breeding grounds (c) Rob Baldin 2009

Pelagic birds such as Razorbills and Dovekies have been seen from shore – these are birds that are usually only seen on birding trips out to sea.  A Pacific Loon has been hanging around the same area for more than a week, and the Eared Grebe first seen a month ago at Shark River Inlet is still being easily located in the same area.  Often it has been spotted very close to the jetties.

Pacific Loon (c) Len Blumin 2010

Both species of crossbill seen on the North American mainland (there is an endemic species found only on the island of Hispaniola) have been feeding on black pines from Seven Presidents Park in Long Branch down through the ocean view streets of Deal.  These birds have an interesting adaptation to assist in the extraction of seeds – their bills are literally crossed (see photo below).  They insert their bill into cones and twist their mandibles to reveal the seeds below.

Male Crossbill (c) Sergey Yeliseev 2007

There seems to be something new turning up each week somewhere along the North Shore.  Redheads at Sandy Hook, American Pipits at Seven Presidents Park, and of course the Common (Eurasian Green-Winged) Teal at Lake Takanassee, which has become a fixture of birding this area during the colder months.

Read about our last trip to the North Shore here, and don’t delay in planning your own winter birding trip to the “Jersey Shore” – we can almost guarantee that you won’t run into Snooki.

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