It is a fun time to bird in New Jersey when late fall sets in and winter approaches. The leaves have settled off of the trees making birds viewable again and its a time when western vagrants and northern specialties can sneak down south in search of food and climate. Some of the birds that show up that alert you to this time of year are Harlequin Ducks and Snow Bunting. Horned Lark, Redpoll, Crossbill, Siskin, and Grosbeaks all let you know that a new type of birding opportunity has arrived.Saturday, I made a solo mission to Barnegat Inlet to find Harlequin Ducks, Purple Sandpipers and Scoters that take refuge along the jettie’s massive rocks. You don’t have to go far to find Black-bellied Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers picking through what the sea has deposited on these rocks. A little farther, and just passed that massive bolder, you see a flash of beautiful color. You press on and soon a small flock of Harlequin Ducks ride waves into view. They are like an early Christmas present here just for your enjoyment!
I also got to photograph (through heavy wind and blowing sea) a flock of Scoters and somehow (I didn’t realize it as I was taking the pictures) got all three species in the same blurry frame!
One of my favorites! Purple Sandpiper!
The weekend closed with a stop at Spruce Run to catch a pack of Snow Bunting on the day’s last bit a light. They pick through parking lots and pebbled roads like the sandpipers on jetty rocks and you know the fall is surely here and winter can’t be far behind.