Monday, March 23, 2015

What a Difference a Day Makes

March 20 - first day of Spring 2015.Had the snow blower out clearing heavy snow from the driveway.

Snowy Spring
March 22 - first day that it felt like spring. I finally got down to the shore to do some birding with Harvey. We started the day with a bang. Harvey found these Black-headed Gulls along the beach in Villas. Black-headed Gulls show up in NJ during their northward migration up to New England and Canada. They are one of the first migrants to come through and only spend a day or so along the Delaware Bay before heading north. It is not a sure bet to find one every year - and here we found 2. We chased them down to Townbank where we were able to snap a few photos. By far, the best photos that I have of BHGUs.(shorhand for Black-headed Gull)

The first Black-headed Gull that we found didn't have such a black head. This guy/gal isn't quite in breeding plumage yet.

(almost) Black-headed Gull 
It flew around enough for me to get this shot that shows dark under the wing tips which is a field mark. Bonaparte's gulls look very similar but lack the dark under the wings.

Look under my wings
Here is another BHGU that really looks like its name. This bird is in full breeding plumage.

(really) Black-headed Gull
We were on a roll and headed to the State Park (aka Lighthouse) to see if we could find some other signs of spring. We were met by another bird that is an early migrant - Killdeer. In fact, there were a pair of them in the parking lot. A pair usually nest here every year and these birds looked like they were home rather than just passing through. Here is one of them. You can imagine how stupid I looked sitting "Indian style" in the middle of the parking lot trying to get this shot.

Killdeer
Another resident was out and about - this Muskrat swam across the pond right in front of us. They are funny looking little animals - half rat, half beaver.

Muskrat
The next sign of spring came in the form of this soaring Osprey. Who knows if this bird will nest here or go farther north but he/she was looking for fish in the pond on Sunday.

Osprey
Just as we are happy to see some birds returning from the south, other birds will shortly leave us to head north. Ducks spend their winters only as far south as they have to go to find water that isn't frozen. This Bufflehead (lower left) and Ring-necked Duck (above, right) will disappear shortly as the water warms. Zoom in to see the iridescence on the Bufflehead. It is amazing.

Bufflehead and Ring-necked Duck
More signs of spring will be showing up in the coming days. I have more to tell you about our visit to the State Park so stay tuned.
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