Wanamassa Birds

I frequently stroll the streets of Wanamassa, NJ, with camera at the ready to take pictures of birds.

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Location: Ocean, New Jersey, United States

Monday, July 14, 2014

Killdeer Family at Spring Lake

I was at one of my usual haunts at Shark River Hills this afternoon when a passer-by stopped an chatted with me. He reminded me that at Sea Girt, part of the beach is fenced off to allow Piping Plovers to breed, so I set off in that direction, using the coast road. When I reached the extreme south of Spring Lake, I pulled into the parking lot on Brown Ave. to get my bearings.

I decided to check out the boardwalk, but it was clear that all I was going to get from it were sea gulls and perhaps some sparrows, so I came back to the car and noticed that an area of the beach at the end of the boardwalk was fenced off. The posted sign suggested that the area was embargoed to allow not only Piping Plovers to breed but also Black Skimmers and Least Terns.

But all I saw were Redwing Blackbirds and Killdeer. I took pictures of both adult Killdeer:

Then I went on to Sea Girt where I just about struck out -- I did get some pictures of a female House Sparrow that I saw from the board walk, but I'm not even going to post those images.

The weather was threatening, so I went back to Spring Lake for another look at the Killdeer. When I first arrived, I noticed that one of the adults was exhibiting the broken-wing behavior. I didn't get a picture, but its behavior was exactly the wrong thing to do because it drew me to the location where a juvenile had been enjoying the wet sand by the pond there. It was now cut off from its parents who had retreated to the fenced off area. Unable to fly, it resorted to running backwards and forwards at high speed. Here's a couple of pictures:

In the second image, it had just realized that it could get by me on the opposite side of the little stream and so it set off at high speed in that direction. It moved so quickly that I failed to get any pictures when it was closest to me. It happily joined its parents in the protected area on the dunes.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Old Friends at Shark River Marina

On January 4th, I went down to Shark River hoping to see a variety of ducks.

And of course there were Ruddy Ducks, but not much else within  range.

However, on the water's edge there were both a Killdeer and a Black-bellied Plover (the latter in its mundane winter plumage; it would take a trip to the Arctic to see it at its summer best). These two pictures are scaled differently, the plover is noticeably larger than the Killdeer.

Unusually at the marina I was able to get a reasonably good shot of a Bufflehead. Most of these birds are usually too far out into the water or they immediately take fright and fly away.

Another Year, a New Camera, a Snowy Owl

My family treated me to a new K-3 as a combined birthday, Christmas and retirement present. It is a major step up from the Kx which was already a pretty impressive camera. The year started with a surprising visitor to Allenhurst on January 1st. I was at Ruby Tuesday's in Freehold Raceway Mall about to have lunch when I got a text message from Joy More letting me know that a Snowy Owl had been sighted on a rooftop by the ocean. It was four o'clock before I got there but the bird was still on the roof. It could be seen only from one angle that required I stand in the middle of the road to get these two shots.

This was my second sighting of a Snowy Owl having seen two on a recent visit to Brigantine. One of them was on the rocks by the Wildlife Drive. Here's one of the pictures I took then:

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Another Hawk in Front Yard

The forecast said that the sun was due to come out mid-afternoon. I'd taken a shorter lunch than usual with a view to taking advantage of this, but here it was three o'clock and no sign of the clouds breaking up. Where should I go?

While I was dithering, I caught sight of movement out the front window. Pam had a better view -- "Hawk" she cried.

I ran to the office to retrieve the camera which still had the long lens on it. The hawk, a Cooper's, was still perched on the same branch in the maple tree. It was looking over its shoulder at the feeder.

It looked around for a few moments. I got these pictures through the double-glazed window. As a result, the quality leaves a little to be desired, but better to get these shots than scare it off by opening the window. It flew down to the dilapidated plant holder on the other side of the lawn. 

It held this pose for only a few seconds before deciding there were greener pastures elsewhere. It flew off across the road headed north.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Days of February

Second post in a row to start with a picture of a male Red-bellied Woodpecker. The difference? This picture was taken with our new Sigma 18–250 mm zoom lens. This picture and those that follow show that 250 mm is plenty for many bird pictures, so the lens is an excellent choice for walk-around photography.

Song Sparrow under the feeder.

House Finch atop the feeder.

Male Northern Cardinal under the feeder.

This picture was taken through the glass of one of the sidelight windows next to the front door. Still using the new Sigma lens.

These were taken through the double-glass of the living-room main window.

Here's where I expect to see a Song Sparrow, atop a tree. Usually, when it's up there, it sings.
The Mute Swan was in the southern arm of Deal Lake, just west of the railroad tracks at Interlaken.

Northern Mockingbird in the small park at the eastern entrance to Interlaken.

On the bank of the north branch of Deal Lake in Interlaken, this Great Blue Heron watched me warily as I walked by.

I took this picture from the bridge where Westra becomes Monmouth Road. The Hooded Merganser obliged with a little show.

This Doubled-crested Cormorant popped up from nowhere right below me.

It was this Great Blue Heron that had me on the bridge in the first place.

The lead, female, Hooded Merganser had emerged from a dive with food. The other bird chased and harassed it rather than go find its own food.

Knowing that I might be taking long-distance shots of small ducks, I took the 150–500 mm on this outing to Shark River. And so it was. This Bufflehead was flapping its wings as I took this shot.

And here, I believe, is a picture of a Greater Scaup. It certainly looks larger than the shots I took last month of the Lesser Scaup, and it lacks the notch at the back of its head.

Here's a female. It too decided to spend some time out of the water.

In this picture you can see that the male is considerably larger than the female, but that seems to be par for the course for this species.

One of the few birds to come really close to shore was this Mute Swan. As usual, there was quite a sizable flock of them on the water, but this one separated itself from the rest for a walk on the beach.

I took this shot of a female Bufflehead over on the Belmar side of the Shark River Inlet. As so often happens, it saw me coming and set off for deeper water.

This is one of a small flock of Brant Geese that showed up in the parking lot.

This murder of crows was very noisy. No wonder I followed them to get this shot.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The 2013 List Grows

This first picture is not a new list member, but it is the first picture of a male Red-bellied Woodpecker that I've managed this year. I saw the bird fly from the feeder to the tree and my opening the window didn't scare it away, but it didn't come back to the feeder.

I was on my way downstairs to the office when I saw a bird perched on the little fence at the bottom of the front steps. "Hawk!" I yelled to Pam as I raced to the camera to get this shot through the side-window next to the door. We're pretty certain that it is a Sharp-shinned Hawk, #54 on the year's list. My attempt to get a better angle from the other side of the door resulted in my hitting the glass with the lens shade which scared the bird off.

I was on one of my many trips to Franklin Lake in West Long Branch hoping to see the kingfisher once more when I saw this Red-winged Blackbird flying almost straight at me to a bush right next to the path I was on. You can't see much of the red in this photo, but it was clearly visible when the bird was in flight both coming in and leaving. I looked for but did not see a female. This made the 2013 list 55 birds long.

Having walked the circumference of Thompson Park, I came across this pair of Northern Pintail Ducks in a small pond just a few yards past the delivery entrance to the park on Route 520. They became #56 on this year's list.

On yet another visit to Franklin Lake, having given up waiting for the kingfisher because school was letting out and I didn't see much hope with all those people to scare it off, I was walking along the north bank when I caught sight of this little bird in a tree. Thinking it was probably a sparrow of some kind, I nonetheless took some pictures and quickly realized that this bird was a Common Redpoll. I later realized it was a female. The chances are that the other bird I noticed in the tree just before they both flew off was a male. The list is now 57 species long.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Wigeons from the Car

After the snow storm, I decided to check out Shark River Hills to see how the ducks were faring. I went straight to South Riverside Drive and drove around to the eastern coast where I was surprised to see this American Wigeon walking towards me. I stayed in the car and took these pictures from the driver's seat.

At first, the bird just kept walking towards me, but then it turned right, presenting me with this fine profile shot.

It took a few paces into the mud past the killdeer that was also enjoying itself at the culvert, before it suddenly turned and headed back towards the river.

After passing through the gap in what appears to be an old wooden fence that has seriously deteriorated over the years, the bird again turned to the north and set off behind some reeds and out of my view.

I drove north about a quarter of a mile when I noticed another wigeon through the passenger window. Again, I took pictures from the driver's seat. This time, the bird was swimming, but after a few moments, it decided to fly. In the intermediate shots, you can see if first coil itself ready to launch and then start the process by extending its neck. These four shots were all taken in very quick succession.