On Saturday I met up with my adviser, his wife and a friend from grad school and we headed back to Sandy Hook, home of the Snowy Owl spotted during our Big Day. I was excited to do my first real birding since my return from the Galapagos, but as departure time approached and I thought of all the snow out there, the thought of trudging through snow and cold caused me to drag my feet. Granted I should have been thrilled that we caught a break between the storms and we were all free, but it wasn’t registering.
But it wasn’t so bad. There was no wind and the snow was manageable. You might notice there’s something off about the photo….
No footprints! For the most part we were able to walk entirely on top of the snow without leaving footprints. It felt very magical and many a remark was made about elves. But also no owl. I didn’t do any of the planning or scouting for this trip, so it went overlooked that the last time a snowy owl had been spotted was on January 20th.
Like last time we also had nice views Long-tailed Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers. New were Bald Eagle, Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, American Robin, Common Goldeneye, Black Scoters and Field Sparrows. I got a glimpse of a Merlin while everyone else was mesmerized by a flashy immature Bald Eagle. So slow start to NJ birds, but getting good birds.
Working Sandy Hook is slowly improving my identification skills of a few birds I only see about once per year. so yay! Just need to actually order my scope, so I can be a real birder.
Call me crazy, but winter is rapidly winding up. While it cannot end too soon for many people (another several inches of snow predicted for this week?! whee!), to me I see the closing window of opportunity for Snowy Owls and Long-eared Owls.