Sunday morning I joined Judy Cinquina, Tom Millard, Denise Farrell, B.A. McGrath, and Gene Tappan on a birding trip to Sandy Hook NJ, which is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. All the folks I went with are experienced birders, and most are also official counters out at Mt. Peter Hawk Watch. It was really great to be able to spend the day birding with this group; the company was excellent and I also saw it as a good opportunity for me to learn. I tried to observe and listen to the other birders in the group as much as the birds in a effort to see how others go about their birding.
The wind was blowing pretty good when we arrived and it got stronger as the day passed. This seemed to keep a lot of the birds down, so it was not as active as we had hoped. I counted a total of 37 species for the day, but I may have missed a few. We did well with raptors, seeing plenty of Turkey Vultures, eight Black Vultures, many Sharp-shinned Hawks, maybe a half dozen Red-tailed Hawks, and at least a couple Cooper’s Hawks.
The highlight of the trip for me was looking for birds out in the ocean, with the New York City skyline off in the distance to our left. As Sanderlings shot back and forth at the water’s edge, we had many birds in the distance: Black Scoters, White-winged Scoters, Surf Scoters, Common Loons, Red-throated Loons, Royal Terns, and Northern Gannets. I particularly love watching the few gannets that came in a bit closer, they are a fantastic bird to watch in flight.
Sandy Hook is a bit of a trip from Goshen NY (over 2 hours), but well worth it. I certainly plan on getting back there again, hopefully on a day with better conditions.