I took some members of the Rutgers Ornithology class along with some members of the Rutgers Field ID course (a graduate ‘birding’ course) to Barnegat Light and the surrounding salt marshes yesterday. The trip was great, with really pleasant (for February) weather on the jetty.
4 Ipswich Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis princeps) that posed for us on the jetty rocks definitely stand out as a highlight of the day. These are the largest (~50% heavier) and most pale of all 17 recognized subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow. They breed on Sable Island, Nova Scotia, and winter on the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to southern Georgia.
Here’s the post from Jerseybirds which gives the species seen:
At Barnegat Light:
Redhead – mixed into large scaup sp. flock across inlet on Island Beach side.
Greater Scaup – only 1 individual in group of 6 Lessers
Common Eider – ~10 individuals, around old 8th Ave. Jetty; roughly 1:1 M:F; all adults except 1 subadult male
Harlequin Duck – >20 individuals, mostly males, many courting and calling- very cool!
Scoters – large mixed scoter flocks on Island Beach State Park side of inlet.
Long-tailed Duck – Many individuals around both M & F; some vocalizations heard
Red-breasted Merganser – Many
Ruddy Duck – Single female
Red-throated Loon – few
Common Loon – many
Horned Grebe – several close to jetty providing awesome looks
Northern Gannet – two way out…west winds likely keeping them out
Great Cormorant – 1 adult + several subadults; on the markers in the inlet near the end of the jetty, including one with bright white hip patches visible.
Falcon sp. (most likely Peregrine, perched on the water tower and scoped from the jetty…looked light, but heat distortion and distance are likely the cause. Attempts to relocate afterward were unsuccessful)
Great Black-backed Gull
Savannah Sparrow (Ipswich) – 4 individuals at the end of the paved part of jetty provided great looks.
Dock Rd & Ceder Run Dock Rd.
Many of the waterfowl were seen from the end of Dock Rd, scoping the open water area to the NW.
American Black Duck
Rough-legged Hawk – 1 Dark & 1 Light morph; both on Cedar Run Dock Rd.