Right now it is snowing, snowing, snowing snowy owls. Snowy owls everywhere. Up in in Rochester, Across the river in NYC, down in Bermuda. Bermuda! I missed the last snowy owl in NJ at Round Valley Reservoir in 2010(?) and the one half a mile from my folk’s place in 2007. I never even heard about that one! This time around, I signed up for hourly updates which at this time indicate ~500 observations on Saturday.
I checked the data twice and plotted a route and contingencies. Things were looking good. Site 1 (Liberty State Park) had an owl in late November/early December, and then it was spotted again on the 27th. Site 2 (Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, Bayonne / Bayonne Golf Club) was 6 miles further south and had frequent sighting the week previously. My guess is that it could be the same individual moving between the two golf courses. As a potential third site, should we grow desperate we could go to Sandy Hook (gap in sightings from early winter until the 27th) or the Meadowlands which also had a sighting on the 27th. It wasn’t south Jersey that was racking up the owls, but my owling posse was not necessarily willing to make the drive to south Jersey, not even to Brigatine or Cape May. The invite to join the owl posse went to 10 people and I had 3 acceptances.
At LSP, we had Dunlins as a consolation prize. We also had two cases of sentient plastic bags and something else we’re still not sure what it is.
After three hours, we optimistically traveled to Bayonne, six miles further south along the Hudson to try our luck there. We all agreed it was a beautiful, hidden gem of a park. It faces the most bleak, industrial landscape. There are cranes to be sure, but they’re the metallic kind. But the scenery behind you is incredible. The Bayonne golf course feels nothing like New Jersey, but rather some rugged Scottish highlands. It’s utterly treeless and only the club house breaks the horizon from the walkway. The club house looks like a cross between a spaceship and a castle drawn in a cartoon style; it’s actually remarkably charming.
At the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, we also struck out. We identified 2 Horned Grebes and had magnificent views of a Northern Harrier playing with the wind, and then hanging out with his friend Great Blue Heron. Harrier, Horned, Heron. Owl. Which doesn’t fit? Yep. No owl.
The group split early afternoon and I decided to try my luck at DeKorte where I had also struck out. I had never been there either. It is impossible to find! But now that I’ve found it, I’m certain to return as it’s only about 20 minutes from my apartment.
Open wound. Pour salt. Around 8 that night, I received another hourly ebird update. The snowy owl showed up at Bayonne a few hours after we left. Then a birder in Cape May logged 10 snowy owls.
To really rub it in, I wanted a better picture of where owls were on Saturday and how many I missed.
Here’s what happened on Saturday:
|State||# of Locations||Probable # of Owls|