Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

The Harlequin Ducks were just amazing - gorgeous birds. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
The Harlequin Ducks were just amazing – gorgeous birds. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to join what I call “the New Jersey Crew” on an outing this past Sunday to Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. The “crew” includes: Judy Cinquina, Tom Millard, Denis Farrell, B.A. McGrath, Gene Tappan,  and honorary New Jerseyan, Dennis Murphy. I really enjoy birding with these folks because they are all very good and experienced birders that are extremely generous with me, taking the time to teach me the ins and outs of birding, bird identification, and birding locations. Plus they are all just nice people to spend time with.

Dennis Murphy, Gene Tappan, Judy Cinquina, and Denise Farrell go to work atI can't get enough of these Long-tailed Ducks. Definitely the cutest duck out there. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
Dennis Murphy, Gene Tappan, Judy Cinquina, and Denise Farrell go to work at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.

I cannot express strongly enough what a great birding location Barnegat is. As soon as we got on the beach, until it was time to leave, there was ALWAYS a large number of birds to observe. Additionally, while some of the birds were a bit distant, most birds were quite close and gave great views. It was a super day for photography with so many birds near and far and the light was beautiful. For me, the icing on the cake was the fact that six (!!!) of the over 30 species that we had for the day were life birds: HARLEQUIN DUCK, COMMON EIDER, PURPLE SANDPIPER, ICELAND GULL, CAROLINA CHICKADEE, and BOAT-TAILED GRACKLE. 

So I took tons of photos and I was happy with many of them:

This Iceland Gull was probably my favorite bird of the day. I think it is a very elegant looking gull. The New Jersey Crew was having a discussion about this bird, wondering if it could possibly be a hybrid. The reason for this was that it was very close in size to the Herring Gulls it was found with. According to The Crossley ID Guide, the Iceland is 22" as compared to the Herring Gull at 25". The Iceland Gull was certainly smaller, just not noticeably.
This Iceland Gull was probably my favorite bird of the day. It was a life bird for me, and I think it is a very elegant looking gull. The New Jersey Crew was having a discussion about this bird, wondering if it could possibly be a hybrid. The reason for this was that it was very close in size to the Herring Gulls it was found with. According to The Crossley ID Guide, the Iceland is 22″ as compared to the Herring Gull at 25″. The Iceland Gull was certainly smaller, just not noticeably.
It was great to finally get the Purple Sandpipers. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
It was great to finally get the Purple Sandpipers. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.

 

Ruddy Turnstone at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
Ruddy Turnstone at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.

 

Here's a nice look at female Harlequin Duck, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
Here’s a nice look at female Harlequin Duck, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
I was fighting a backlit situation for this Common Eider, so not a great shot, but what an interesting duck.
I was fighting a backlit situation for this Common Eider, so not a great shot, but what an interesting duck. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
I can't get enough of these Long-tailed Ducks. Definitely the cutest duck out there. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
I can’t get enough of these Long-tailed Ducks. Definitely the cutest duck out there. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
I can't get enough of these Long-tailed Ducks. Definitely the cutest duck out there. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
One more Long-tailed Duck at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
Male Harlequin DuckI can't get enough of these Long-tailed Ducks. Definitely  Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.
Male Harlequin Duck at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, 1/19/14.

After Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, we made a quick stop at the “Bridge to Nowhere”, which is basically small road (Stafford Avenue) that ends in a destroyed bridge. It also borders along the Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area. It was here that I got my life Carolina Chickadee and Boat-tail Grackles.

My life Carolina Chickadee, at Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area. While it looks very much like our Black-capped Chickadee, there are some differences, the most notable being their call. It is the same "chick-a-dee-dee-dee" but much more rapid than the Black-capped Chickadee.
My life Carolina Chickadee, at Manahawkin Wildlife Management Area. While it looks very much like our Black-capped Chickadee, there are some differences, the most notable being their call. It is the same “chick-a-dee-dee-dee” but much more rapid than the Black-capped Chickadee.

What a fabulous day of birding, with great company and tons of great birds. Hard to ask for anything more than that.

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15 thoughts on “Barnegat Lighthouse State Park”

  1. Matt, I have been so impatient today waiting for this post! You have done yourself well. Each and every shot is great. My favorite is the long tail though. It is just so sweet and delicate…reminds me of a pet you get attached to.

    I really can’t wait to see one!! I had a great day at the grasslands yesterday with lots of practice shooting moving targets!!
    Wilma

    1. Barnegat is a great place for Long-tailed Ducks, many were present and a good number were close enough for good photos. Glad you enjoyed the grasslands. matt

  2. Thanks for the post, as an extreme novice it’s helpful in learning how to identify birds. It’s such a great hobby isn’t it? Always an adventure.

  3. Thank you for changing the top picture to the Long Tail……I was wondering what they did with their tails when they were in the water…and also wondering why they have that long tail at all. Does it serve a purpose? We will probably never know.

    I am obsessed with wanting to see one! Silly birder me!

    Wilma

  4. Once again, beautiful shots! You’re getting better with each outing. How close were these birds when you “shot” them? Were you sliding on jetty rocks? I’m hoping to get to Barnie soon myself for the harlequins & purple pipers; haven’t seen them in years. Take care!

    1. Thanks Marianne! Surprisingly, most of the birds were pretty close, I used to getting such distant shots of ducks! Let me know if you get out there. Matt

  5. I saw you guys there on Monday-I follow your blog-too bad I didn’t know it was you! I have the same picture of that long-tail on the rock. I thought he might have been injured (shot?) because no matter where I stood, he never moved. I walked all the way down the jetty and he was still there when I walked back up.

    1. Julia,

      Too bad you didn’t know it was me! You know, I wondered about that bird too, because it didn’t flush. I did not walk back that way so I didn’t know how long it stayed put; I certainly hope it was okay. Matt

  6. I have been in such withdrawal since you haven’t posted in a few days!!!! I emailed carol and she gave me the ny birds site to check out. I also wondered if we could find the same birds you found in Jersey in Conn and not such a long drive.
    I looked into the Conn Audubon society and did get some information and it looks like they are getting sightings of all the same birds. It might possibly be a great place to go long tail hunting!! But then maybe we’ll start seeing them here when the water opens up? I’m still very new at this so not so sure about that.

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