Jersey Shore 2019

Tricia and I spent a long weekend down at the Jersey Shore; it was sort of a mini-vacation where we focused (for once!) on relaxing rather than running around all over the place. We went to the beach every day. I napped. We did some touristy shopping, and we had some delicious dinners out at several restaurants. That said, I did get out for a bit in the mornings. I managed to get some nice photos; the birds are accessible and the backgrounds are often very clean on the beach. But, I also found myself questioning my birding skills. I kept thinking about birding locally versus birding at a new locale and how it puts one’s birding skills to the test.

~Semipalmated Plover, always a favorite (what a cutie!), at Stone Harbor Point 08/04/19.~

The first thing I will say, is that I did not arrive prepared. Sure, I did some quick research on eBird just to find some good locations, but I didn’t do any research to see what the expected species for this time of year are in the region. I am often guilty of under-preparing for a new location; in a perfect world I would spend some quality time prepping beforehand, but it never seems to happen. I think that if you can squeeze in some quality prep time beforehand, it would make your birding at a new location much more enjoyable. One of these days I’m going to do just that.

~Common Tern in flight at Two Mile Landing, Wildwood Crest 08/06/19.~

The second thing is that birding at the Jersey Shore can be intimidating – there are SO MANY BIRDS! It’s very different from birding in Orange County, especially when it comes to shorebirds which are few and far between. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and “in the weeds” while trying to sort through such a large number of birds; I was lacking context and it made identifying the birds that much more difficult. I was also experiencing some eBird intimidation. I figure the checklists in that area are looked at pretty thoroughly – I didn’t want to get anything wrong. Ultimately, for me, patience was the key in this respect. I took it slow while I was birding and I was willing to let some birds go unidentified. I could take some time to think about it some more and maybe do some research and look at my photos later. If, in the end, they remain unidentified, I’m okay with that.

~Ruddy Turnstone at Stone Harbor Point, 8/3/19.~

Another thing I was thinking about was birding “county coverage”. Here in our area, I feel like we have a pretty good idea of the birds present. Sure, there are plenty of birds that are missed, but I think we have decent coverage and I kept trying to compare it to the Jersey Shore where just about everywhere you look seems to be a birding hotspot. How many good birders would it take to actually keep up with this many birds? It kind of blows my mind. Maybe they have a handle on things, but to me it seems overwhelming.

~Black-crowned Night-heron, side of the road in Stone Harbor 08/04/19.~

And, finally, this trip often made me question my birding skills. Am I thorough enough? Do I know the field marks well enough? I think that maybe I’ve fallen into some bad habits – I’m familiar enough these days with the expected species in Orange County so maybe I’m not looking closely enough at the birds. Does that make sense? Maybe it’s time for a reset and to time to refocus on some of details that go by the wayside while birding the same locations day in and day out. So anyways, while I had all these thoughts running through my mind, I was still able to relax and just enjoy the birding in the south Jersey Shore; sometimes you have to just take a step back and enjoy being out with the birds.

~Common Tern at Two Mile Landing, Wildwood Crest 08/06/19.~
~Cuteness! Black Skimmer chick at Stone Harbor Point, 08/04/19.~
~Food exchange between adult and young Common Terns, Two Mile Landing Wildwood Crest, 08/06/19.~
~Handsome Devil. Common Tern at Two Mile Landing, Wildwood Crest 08/06/19.~
~Clapper Rail taking a peek. Two Mile Landing Wildwood Crest 08/06/19.~
~Clapper Rail chick, Two Mile Landing Wildwood Crest 08/06/19.~
~As you can tell, I found a nice spot to photograph Common Terns at Two Mile Landing, 08/06/19.~
~Semipalmated Sandpiper dance, side of the road in Cape May 08/06/19.~
~I always seem to get images of Gray Catbirds that I really like. This bird was at Stone Harbor Point, 8/3/19/~

10 thoughts on “Jersey Shore 2019”

    1. Thanks Miller. I wasn’t exactly going for advice as much as just thinking about things, but I guess I threw some advice in there too, lol. Thanks for checking in. Matt

  1. Thanks, Matt. I’ve been enjoying “birding” for a great many years and I hope that I will always enjoy it. I believe that it is a pastime that I enjoy but will NEVER “master” and, in truth, I never want to! It often presents itself as a fun-filled mystery and I use the clues offered to me from my time in and exposure to come up with the best answer that I can be comfortable with. Do I err, OH DO I! So what, I never said that I knew everything. I’m just Ken and that’s good enough for me.

    Participate, enjoy and stay relaxed. No matter what the sun WILL come up tomorrow!

    1. Now that’s good advice Ken, thanks! Fortunately, birding is not the sort of thing that I think one has to worry about mastering – there’s always a new challenge around the corner. Matt

  2. What marvelous photos, Matt, each more beautiful than the last! Sounds like you had a beautiful and relaxing weekend getaway with Tricia. One of the primary joys of birding for me is puzzling over the ID. It would be awfully boring if weren’t for the fun of discovery. Great seeing you on the shorebird hunt at Wallkill River this weekend.

    1. Thanks so much Kathy. “the fun of discovery” – I like that and will use it, at least in my mind. Great to see you too. Matt

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