Sunday, January 17, 2010
It is day 17 and I am home ever so briefly. I arrived back here yesterday afternoon after birding in New Jersey and Delaware on Friday. I began Friday early at one of my favorite birding spots--Brigantine NWR. It is located in mid Jersey just north of Atlantic City--I always find it a bit weird to bird at such a beautiful place with the skyline of Atlantic City looming on the horizon. It was a chilly but clear morning and after 90 minutes of driving the 9 mile tour route, I had seen over 30 species for the new week, and 2 of them were new for the year--mute swan and northern flicker.
I stopped briefly at the Shea Cafe which is right at the intersection of route #9 and the entrance road to Brigantine. This cafe is a wonderful example of a local place that makes excellent breakfasts and lunches. The owner has been there every time I have stopped in over the years, and is all about service and good food.
It took me 2 hours to drive over to Delaware to visit Bombay Hook again in hopes of tracking down the long earred owl, but once again I was unable to locate it. From there I headed down to Lewes, DE in an effort to find a black headed gull that had been seen recently at the Wolfe Neck wastewater treatment plant. After my google maps failed me, I finally found the place but the gulls were far out in a field feeding where they were spraying effluent from the plant. The facility limits access, so I was unable to get close enough to check out the feeding gulls. On the way down though I did see several bald eagles standing on the ice at Prime Hook beach, plus picked up 2 more species for the year--lesser black backed gull and greater yellow legs.
I ended my day in Washington, DC where I visited a very long time friend who lives there. We went into Silver Spring to have dinner at a place called Ray's the Classic. This is part of a restaurant group that received some press coverage last year when President Obama ate one of their acclaimed hamburgers at their Virginia location. I opted for Maryland crab royale instead because crab is a Maryland thing.
So after returning home the bird count for the year is now 191, and the count for week #3 is at 38. For the non-birders out there, you might be thinking that he is almost at 200 species seen already in just 2 weeks, so he will make it to 600+ birds easily and soon. But that is not the case. As I have said in an earlier post, there are many birds that are seemingly everywhere--crows, vultures, starlings, red tailed hawks, house sparrows, cardinals, blue jays, etc. So a big number after 2 weeks simply means I have been actively birding and covering quite a bit of territory (Tx, Fl, De, NJ, Ma). While the weekly numbers will probably average somewhere between 50-100 species seen, the number of new species for the year is going to slow down dramatically going forward. And as for new life birds, having 3 already does not mean that I am on a pace for 75 new life birds. In fact, I expect to only see 20-25 new life birds throughout 2010.
Minnesota is the next birding stop to look for some key winter birds like the great gray owl--one of my favorites. Stay tuned!