New Jersey Birding – Part 3

For the fourth day of our trip, on the 22nd, we really didnt have anything planned, so we figured we would just spend some more time at the Avalon Sea Watch since we all had a great time there. So after a quick stop at Higbee Beach (where bird activity was basically nonexistent) we drove over to Avalon. As we expected, Northern Gannets, Red-throated Loons, and scoters were still pushing through in massive numbers. Other highlights of the Sea Watch were some Purple Sandpipers, a banded Sanderling, and getting to see many species of waterfowl flying past on their way south.

Sanderling with leg band

Ruddy Turnstone with some line stuck around its foot

Surf Scoters migrating past

Finally, it was the 23rd and we had to head home. We decided to take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry across the Deleware Bay and then stop at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge before officially heading back to PA. The ferry ride was fantastic. I have ridden the ferry many, many times in the past, but the bird life seen on this particular trip was better than ever. Constant groups of Red-throated Loons flew past the front of the ferry; a few Common Loons; stream after stream of Surf and Black Scoters passed by. Thousands of Northern Gannets were literally everywhere you looked- diving behind the boat, sitting on the water, flying in the distance….they were everywhere. All the Northern Gannet age classes were present too, which was nice to see. By far the best bird of the ferry ride was an adult Parasitic Jaeger that I spotted flying out in front of the ferry, heading south very low to the water. This was a lifer for everyone in our group, except me.

Red-throated Loon

Common Loon

Northern Gannet

Northern Gannet

Northern Gannet

By 10:30am we were at Bombay Hook NWR. We basically had the whole place to ourselves and it was loaded with birds. At an observation tower near the start of the auto tour loop, we spotted a group of about 250 American Avocets along with a few Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Dowitchers, and Dunlin. There were tons of waterfowl around. We searched pretty hard for the Barnacle Goose and White-fronted Goose that had been reported there earlier in the week, but couldn’t find them. I did manage to spot a Cackling Goose among all the Canada Geese though, which was a lifer for a few of my friends. Other highlights of Bombay Hook were thousands of Snow Geese, a juvenile Little Blue Heron, Tundra Swans, and the shear number of individual waterfowl.

American Avocets

Bald Eagle

A White-tailed Deer swimming

So that brought us to the end of our trip. 5 days, 5 friends, 113 species of birds.

To check out all the photos I took from this trip, please visit my Picasa web album at this link.