Archive for 2009 February

Birding around New Jersey in February

Hooded Merganser:

Hooded Merganser
So in February, the cold days wind on with no end in site and the extended “birding lull” starts to take it’s toll on a budding birder. It feels like birding requires more effort. I think I like that in a way. I know I learn something new on every birding trip in winter. In winter, sounds seem to migrate too as the calls are less, and wing whir is minimal. Each aerial activity gets your full attention. This provides a birding landscape ripe with details. I think I “notice” more in winter. So you plan and plot to get to the few birding hotspots that hold that moniker even in sub-freezing temperatures. One of these spots is the North Shore (a collection of ponds, inlets and rivers strew along the New Jersey coast). You can always find a variety of ducks and gulls waiting for your attention. Last year I saw my first Canvasback and Redheads on a North Shore trip. Silver Lake held a group of Hooded Mergansers shown in the picture above. Although it is a common winter bird around New Jersey the Hooded Merganser never “feels common.” It just seems that a bird so delightfully ornate should come with some extra pomp and circumstance. I tried to oblige. :)

Another wonderful winter spot is the Pole Farm near Princeton New Jersey. The Pole Farm is home to numerous Short-eared Owls who hunt and float above its fields. They arrive as the sun sets and it feels amazing as you realize you are lucky enough to be in the presence of hunting “Owls.” I have snapped some pretty good shots of these guys in the past but the setting sun below seemed to remind me of something. You can’t get to tomorrow without today. The Spring will come soon enough as the sun will set on winter but the winter has some pretty cool birds too. Birding in New Jersey is year round.

Short-eared Owls:

Short-eared Owls

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