I really enjoy birding (or bird watching, if you like that term better). However, I had very little spare time to get outdoors and bird while I was completing my master’s degree. That changed a couple weeks ago and I took my first opportunity to visit a favorite spot – Edwin Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge includes an eight mile wildlife drive that, sadly, was mostly closed for repairs. However, there were still some really good birds along the parts that were open, including this very cooperative American Bittern.
Are you thinking about doing a big year in 2014? Believe it or not, there’s still time to plan for a fun and successful birding year.
I have received questions about and requests for tips on how to plan and prepare for a big year. As my year is coming rapidly to a close, I thought I’d offer my thoughts on planning for a big year (or big day or big month, whatever you have the appetite for).
Let’s start with GOALS – why do you want to do a big year and what do you want to get out of it? There are as many reasons for doing a big year as there are birders. Are you doing this for personal achievement, fun, fund-raising, or competition? Do you have a “magic number” of species that you hope to see? Are there particular areas you would like to include or exclude in your birding activities? …
Happy New Year’s Eve! It has been a few months since my last post and, yep, it has been busy. But I am missing my blog and that’s probably a good thing. As I make up the list of stuff I want to change for 2016, being here a bit more ranks very high.
Here’s a shot of one of my favorite lighthouses – Barnegat Light. I was there a few days ago with a group of friends, birding along the bay. The weather patterns of the past few weeks have been very unusual, unusually warm, and the “regular” winter birds were not there in the number or variety that we anticipated. Still, it was a very good day – a bad day of birding is better than a good day at work!
I will get deeper into the reasons for my absence in following posts. Until then – I hope you have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
I was fortunate enough to spend some time last weekend birding in the NJ Pine Barrens and several of the spring flowers in were full bloom. This beautiful golden flower is known as Pine Barren Heather or Golden Health (Hudsonia ericoides). Pine Barren Heather is a small shrub which grows in dry open sandy areas throughout the pine barrens and several plants were in full bloom last weekend.
Sand Myrtle is another low flowering shrub that grows in sandy patches, but prefers wet areas over dry. Even though it has been a relatively dry spring, these lovely white-flowered shrubs were blooming in many of low wet areas I walked through this weekend.
I hope you enjoy the flowers….I took the photos with my cell phone as I walked from spot to spot during one of my bird surveys for the New Jersey Audubon.
I have spent the last couple days reflecting on My New Jersey Big Year, what I accomplished, and what I learned about birding and myself.
I was able to bird in all 21 New Jersey counties at least once – driving almost 9000 miles along the way. To add some perspective to that number – the approximate distance from the Eastern Coast of the US to the Western Coast is about 3000 miles. I drove the equivalent of three coast-to-coast trips without leaving New Jersey.
I managed to see 310 bird species plus a Eurasian Teal which I found, much to my surprise, doesn’t count as a full species (according to eBird). Apparently, Green-winged Teal is considered a sub-species of Eurasian Teal – go figure – so you can count one but not both! Don’t get me wrong – It was still very cool to finally see a Eurasian Teal.
Have you ever watched Sanderlings feeding along a wave line? A wave comes in – they scurry up the beach. Wave goes out – they chase it down, grabbing tidbits of food along the way. And like this group of Sanderling I photographed yesterday, I am always a little amused as I watch them run up and down the beach.
Yesterday was an amazing, and nostalgic, day of birding. Some time ago I decided to finish My New Jersey Big Year the same way I started, with a North Shore birding run. Back on January 1st, 365 days ago, I started my big year alone in a cold parking lot in Belmar, New Jersey. As I watched the sun rise above the frozen horizon, I had little idea what the new year would bring. The havoc of Superstorm Sandy had left some of the best birding locations in New Jersey, like Sandy Hook, inaccessible…