Sunday, November 18, 2012

Adding it Up

 [Why I didn't linger on the Avalon jetty this morning. Click to enlarge all photos.]

Waves lashed against the jetty up at 8th Street in Avalon, NJ this morning, driven by a north wind that also chopped up the sea. Not the ideal birding conditions, though I did watch a Great Black-backed Gull ripping at a skate carcass and thought, big gull, big prey.

 [Common Loons in Great Channel, Stone Harbor NJ this morning. The bird in the foreground is in nearly full breeding plumage, while the back bird looks like they're supposed to now.]

Leaving Avalon, the gull, the skate, and a few waves of migrating scoters, the natural thing was to work south through Stone Harbor and Nummy Island. Common Loons foraged in the channels, suggesting that was where the prey was, though I saw none come up with food, so I can't say if it was fish or crabs they sought. A 4th year Bald Eagle tested the Atlantic Brant a few times before settling on a post, and I wondered how often eagles really kill brant. I don't know the answer.

 [4th year Bald Eagle, Nummy Island this morning.]

It was adding up to a not especially birdy morning, which is to say the species list wasn't long, the rarity list shorter, the light bleak and gray.

[Great Egret coming in for a landing.]

But birds were around, being birds, eating what they eat, fleeing what eats them, and I thought, as I often think and say, that the fun in birding starts when you've identified the bird, rather than ending there. There was plenty going on, plenty to think about and learn, and it added up to a fine morning of birds.

A couple American Oystercatchers waved white-striped wings as I crossed the toll bridge and headed home to ponder the yard White-throated  Sparrows. White-throats are common, and one reason is likely their versatility, feeding on a wide variety of fruits and seeds, both on the ground (which they prefer) and gleaning from shrubs.

 [Above and below, White-throated Sparrows. Above, eating Winged Sumac berries, below, kicking for seeds under my feeder. Versatile feeding habits = common. Think whitethroats, yellow-rumps, Herring Gulls, chickadees. . . .]

[This juvenile Cooper's Hawk did the classic thing, sweeping the feeders clean of activity and keeping it that way by perching on the neighbor's fence. Del Haven today. Look at those big feet.]

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