Thursday, December 06, 2007


NJ is small and especially full of rude people, but we've got great birds, particularly in winter along the coast. You have to be the hardy type and enjoy the frigid wind in your face, but it's worth the frostbite for the variety of waterfowl, gulls, raptors, and other goodies.

It's still too early in the season for there to be great numbers of waterfowl, but I enjoy keeping up with whoever's arrived in the neighborhood. On my days in the field, I plan my lunch hour around visiting a few of the coastal ponds that dot the north shore of the state. For whatever reason, the local ponds don't attract the variety of the more southern ponds, but last week there was this nice group of hooded mergansers, a canvasback or two, some coot, and I think I may have imagined a ring-necked duck. Of course, the good ducks never get close enough for a decent photo, but there's plenty of canada geese and mute swans to practice photography with.

There's a lake along the ocean at the base of one of the senior citizen buildings that I visit that always has lots of gulls. I'm not often of a mind to sort through the ring-bills, herrings, and great black-backs but when the lake is frozen there may be bonaparte's or a lesser. Mostly I have to be really bored to give gulls that much attention, but some birders are into that sort of mind-numbing exercise. I prefer the pretty ducks.

The ocean and bay have their own treasures; loons, grebes, oldsquaw, ruddies, bufflehead, harlequins. The marshes have harriers and short-ears, and rough-leggeds - the list goes on and on. But I'm getting cold just thinking of it.

So.. what birds get you outside in the winter? Or is it just the ones that wait beside the empty feeder?



Rabbits' Guy said...

Up here in the far NW of Washington state it is the Trumpeter swans and Snow geese wintering down from much farther north.

Anonymous said...

You sure use your lunch hour well! Lately, I have been seeing lots of woodpeckers in my yard. We live at the edge of the woods, and there always seems to be one flying in to snack on the suet.

Ruth said...

We get a good variety of water birds that overwinter here from the far north. At least they stay for Nov-Dec and my move on if our winter is very cold. The shores of Lake Ontario are great for seeing the birds you describe. That is about a 45 min drive for me. But birding on the Great Lakes in winter is a cold. cold icy deal!

Mary said...

I don't pass oceans, rivers or lakes during my daily travels or I would spend a lot of time outdoors and stop at every opportunity. My empty feeders get me outside during the worst of winter weather.

bunnygirl said...

I love those ducks!

I haven't ever seen much seasonal variety in our birds here, but since the bayou I live near now seems to attract more water birds than the other one, I'm keeping an eye out.

Carolyn H said...

Now there's a real "hoodie"! They're much prettier than the kind of hoodies the kids wear. I don't travel to bird, so the ones I see are those that hang around during winter.

Carolyn H.

dguzman said...

I love those hoodies. We get a few errant ducks out at this little pond near downtown (where I once saw a horned grebe), but that's probably the only water around right now. The marsh is pretty dried up, but I'm going out there this weekend (in the snow!) to see what I can see.

KGMom said...

Laura--I loved your opening line: "NJ is small and especially full of rude people, but we've got great birds"!
That set me to laughing.
Sounds like a license plate--NJ, the state of Rude People and Great Birds!
What birds get me outside? Peregrines. I was sitting on my enclosed sun porch, and saw a dark shape streak by--the peregrine was zooming my yard, again!

Susan Gets Native said...

What gets me outside? You know me....those rare raptors!

And NJ isn't completely full of rude people....there's always you!

Mary C said...

Herons and egrets get me outside, at least beyond my backyard. They are almost always at the percolation ponds about a mile away, an easy walk from my house.

RuthieJ said...

Owls, hawks & eagles get me outside in the winter--especially hooting owls in the middle of the night!

Larry said...

I love the hoodies and Buffleheads.
When I first started birding I confused the two but had fun learning to distinguish between them.

LauraHinNJ said...

Rabbit's guy: Oh I like to see them too!

Sandy: I try to use it well, yeah. Woodpeckers are such fun, wish I saw more of them.

Ruth: I hope that things your way get good and frozen so that the waterfowl will come this way!

Mary: You're landlocked - that stinks. Feeder birds are nice though!

Bunnygirl: Aren't they handsome? Is it always warm there?

Carolyn: Oh but, you've got some good ones on your mountain!

Delia: I feel sort of bad for you - can't imagine winter without ducks.


KGMom: Think I ought to submit that to the contest for a new state logo?


Peregrines are awesome yard birds - wow!

Susan: Aww.. aren't you sweet! I liked that rough-legged you had. I haven't had one in a few years here.

Mary C: Hi! Oh yes... I love to see the cranky herons here in winter, but the egrets mostly go south. You're lucky to have them!

RuthieJ: Yeah.. that'll do for all of us, I think.

Larry: I love them both, but think it's kind of funny that you could mistake them - maybe I see them too often - but their shapes are so different!