Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hanging Out and Seeing Red

It feels pretty good being a casual birder again. After chasing birds all year last year, it was nice to have a day to bird for the sheer sake of watching birds. Lori and I came down to the shore this morning in no big rush to do the kind of birding that we used to do back in the day - you know, just hanging out and seeing whatever there is to see. Well, it paid off big time for Lori. She got 4 life birds and had a nap too!

All of the birds that she got for lifers were colored - 3 red ones and 1 black.  The first lifer came at the marina behind the Lobster House - Red-necked Grebe. These birds have invaded our area this year even more than the Snowy Owls. They are literally everywhere that has fresh water without ice. We have some on the Schuylkill River in Philly, in the back bays of Wildwood, and even on the little ponds in the Villas. In fact, we saw 7 of them today. Here are a few photos. The first is a close encounter that we had at Cox Hall Creek. You can see that this bird is molting into breeding plumage by the red on the neck. 

Red-necked Grebe - Villas NJ
Here are a group of 3 Red-necked Grebes on a little retention pond that the locals call "Lake" Champlain because it is on Champlain Road in the Villas. It is remarkable to have 3 grebes hanging out so close together on a tiny pond.  I caught one of them in the middle of his afternoon bath.

Red-necked Grebes - Lake Champlain
The other "red" bird that we saw today was Redhead. There were 18 of them on the lake at Cox Hall Creek last month but 17 of them have flown the coop. This guy decided to hand out with a Coot.They were acting like best friends in the middle of the lake. Where ever one would go, the other would follow. 

Redhead and Coot
The third "red" bird for Lori was the Eurasian Wigeon which has red on the head. The American Wigeon has green on the head. They were hanging out together in the marsh but too far away for a photo opp. You can see a photo of this bird in a post from last month.  

Lori's 4th lifer of the day was Black-headed Gull. There have been a few hanging around Miami Ave in the Villas this month. This is pretty normal for March since they are starting to migrate north.  This is not as sexy as the others. Kind of boring in fact. It looks alot like a Bonaparte's Gull (and frankly, every other gull if you are not a birder) but a lifer nonetheless. It was hanging out with Forster's Terns on the sandbar. 

Black-headed Gull
Although it wasn't a lifer, the other notable bird for the day was this Horned Grebe. It is still in basic plumage (ie, no horns yet) but still a great find. It was very close to the shore of Sunset Lake. I love the bright red eye!

Horned Grebe - Sunset Lake
We ended the day at dinner with friends. The restaurant was loud, the service was slow and the food was mediocre but it was nice to hang out with friends.  I guess there are 2 themes to this post - Red and Hanging Out! We will take it easy again tomorrow and see whatever shows up. 

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