Super Birding on the Jersey Shore, 2/27/16

~I love this shot, it’s a little bit of a different look at a Ruddy Duck, Shark River in Monmouth County, NJ 4/27/16.~

I spent a full Saturday of birding on the Jersey Shore with Maria Loukeris and Linda Scrima. The day started a little extra-early – I met up with Linda at the Liberty Loop platform to try and relocated the GYRFALCON that she had found the night before. We spent just under a half hour scanning the area, but no luck. As far as I know there were no reported sightings of the Gyrfalcon all day.

Our first stop was Manasquan Inlet in Ocean County, with the recently sited RAZORBILL as our target bird (though we would all be happy just to see some different water birds and to be by the ocean). We walked the south side of the inlet and had incredible looks at Common Loons and Long-tailed Ducks, both of which were present in large numbers. At the end of the jetty we met a local birder, Alex, who told us the Razorbill had been seen earlier that morning in the channel, as had a RED-NECKED GREBE. The grebe did a fly-by shortly after he told us that, and I was lucky enough to have gotten a documentary shot of the bird. We didn’t locate the Razorbill, but we had great photo ops with many of the close in birds, and we got some distant looks at both Surf and White-winged Scoters. Another target bird for us was Purple Sandpiper; when a group of shorebirds flew in to the far side of the north jetty and Alex said they looked like Purple Sandpipers, we knew we had to drive around and check it out. It was a great decision because not only did we relocate and get photos of the Purple Sandpipers (life bird for Linda!), we ran into more birders who told us they had just seen the Razorbill in the channel. We took only about twenty paces in that direction when Maria located the bird, which was on the far side of the channel. It was a life bird for both Linda and Maria; we got very good looks at the bird but unfortunately it was heavily backlit so photos were not great.

~One of my favorites, close-up of a Common Loon. I’ve never seen so many loons in my life, it was hard to keep count but I’d say we had well over 25 COLOs just at Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~COLO at Manasquan Inlet, Ocean County NJ 2/27/16.~
~The Common Loons were going to town with these crabs. Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~Target bird located! RAZORBILL at Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~Target bird located! RAZORBILL at Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~Red-necked Grebe fly-by, Manasquan Inlet 2/27/16.~

From there, we headed to Shark River Inlet in Monmouth County, where I had my first warbler of 2016 – a group of 10 or so Yellow-rumped Warblers. We walked out on the jetty and experienced what was the highlight of the day for me. A Red-throated Loon was fishing north of the jetty and resurfacing very close to us. What a beautiful and elegant bird, even in winter plumage. There was a Common Loon nearby as well, and I was struck at the size difference between the birds. We had our first Black Scoters of the day, just a fly-by off in the distance and also a flock of shorebirds flew by, which I am thinking were likely Sanderlings having looked at the photos.

Our final stop was at the Shark River estuary, and it was unexpectedly good. The spot was loaded with waterfowl and the viewing is really great with the sun at your back in the afternoon. We had close up looks at Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads, a Red-breasted Merganser, and a single Great Blue Heron on the shore right at sunset. It was a fabulous day of birding and just what I needed; I’ve been stressed out at work lately and it had been carrying over to life after work and even interfering with the joy I normally get from birding. A day at the beach with so many great birds and great company was the perfect medicine.

For the day, at three locations, we had a total of 37 species. I’ve included a list at the bottom of this post.

~Another favorite (I know I say that a lot!), Long-tailed Duck in flight at Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~Like a little puppy dog – Long-tailed Duck at Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~LTDU cuteness. Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~Brant in flight down the channel at Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~This might be my first half way decent shot of a Surf Scoter. Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~Purple Sandpiper on the north side of the north jetty at Manasquan Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~It was the highlight of the day for me to get such great looks at this Red-throated Loon, Shark River Inlet 2/27/16.~
~RTLO at Shark River Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~Beautiful bird. Red-throated Loon at Shark River Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~Black Scoters in flight over the water, Shark River Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~I was hoping we would get all three scoters for the day, and we did when we had these Black Scoters in flight over the water, Shark River Inlet, 2/27/16.~
Sanderlings? in flight at Shark River Inlet, 2/27/16. Any thoughts on this ID would be appreciated.~
Sanderlings? in flight at Shark River Inlet, 2/27/16. Any thoughts on this ID would be appreciated. Click on the photo once and then a second time to see the photo enlarged.~


~My first warbler of the year, Yellow-rumped Warbler at Shark River Inlet, 2/27/16.~
~This bird kept coming closer to us! Red-breasted Merganser at Shark River Estuary, 2/27/16.~
~We had a group of twenty or so Ruddy Ducks right in front of us. They must be being fed by people because they just kept coming in close. Shark River Estuary, 2/27/16.~
~RUDU at Shark River Estuary, 2/27/16.~
~Our final bird of the day, a Great Blue Heron at sunset. Shark River Estuary, 2/27/16.~ 

Species List For the Day: 

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Purple Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Fish Crow
European Starling
American Robin
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
House Sparrow

20 thoughts on “Super Birding on the Jersey Shore, 2/27/16”

  1. Great report Matt! Loved the flight shots particularly the Long-tailed Duck, Red-throated Loon photos, the Purple Sandpiper (one of my favorite shorebirds), and the sunset GBH shot. The Ruddy Duck with tail fanned is also very cool.

  2. Outstanding, Matt!!!! I have always heard about birding Shark River but haven’t a clue where you actually have access to view the birds!

    1. Deb, I have to tell you it’s a really great spot with plenty of access with the light behind you! Incredible spot with loads of birds. Contact me if you go and I’ll tell you where we viewed from. Matt

    1. Thanks Bruce, I was thinking about Snow Buntings – that must have been great to see. Nice birding location for sure. Matt

  3. I was really happy with my pictures, until I saw yours! Great post and pictures. Isn’t it nice to go birding, and actually see birds up close? To really see them, and see their behavior? Also, the birders were nice company. 🙂

    1. I just saw your pics and they came out great. It was so great to get such good looks at SO many birds! Good birds and good company make a great day. Matt

  4. Hi Matt,

    Loved your shots(AGAIN!). I’ve never been there but it is tempting.
    The shorebirds in flight are, indeed, Sanderling.
    The female RUDU in so close that you could see her feet in the water was special. I have never heard of people feeding that species of duck and I actually never thought that there was anything that we could offer that would appeal to them. I could be wrong and will have to check this out.

    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks Ken! I’m glad I got the Sanderlings right, thanks for confirming. I never wondered about what they might be feeding the RUDUs, but I’ve never seen them so close to shore and have NO fear of people! Let me know if you find anything out. Matt

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