Is that one word or two?  Ah well, today I wish to draw your attention to two uses of the term, “touchdown”.

The first use, I believe (I don’t actually follow sports) is to indicate achieving some sort of numeric reward.  While updating my bird lists, I happened to note that I reached 200 birds for NJ.

196. American Avocet
197. Black Skimmer
198. Great Horned Owl
199. Blue-Headed Vireo
200. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The second use is much less celebratory.   On October 7, a tornado touched down in New Jersey.  The path of the tornado took it through what is, as far as I am aware, New Jersey’s only large scale bird/raptor rehabilitation center.  None of the birds were injured, but the damage was more severe than either of the last two hurricanes to strike the region.

They are seeking donations to help with repairs to get their birds returned to their aviaries and out of temporary housing as quickly as possible.  They’re a great center and resource for birders and birds alike.

For more information, you can visit their facebook page or their website.

Last Hurrah?

What a whirlwind the last ~24 hours have been!

I have picked up one additional new species for the 2013 list (hello, Killdeer!) and three new species for the life list!

I didn’t get a chance to write about it previously, but on the evening of the 18th, at dusk, I headed out to the fields where as the sunset I saw plenty of American Robins roosting in a tree, a few Red-tailed Hawks, and the long-awaited Short-eared Owl.  From a distance in the dimming list they look almost like Northern Harriers. It’s not helped that their habitats are identical!  However, the Northern Harrier’s flight tends to be more purposeful whereas the Short-eared Owl looks like a Harrier on lots of sugar flying here, then there, and everywhere all at once.

Then the following morning, I went on a sunrise stroll as noted previously and then spent the afternoon birding in Central Jersey.  I didn’t see lots of diversity, but diversified my list.   We drove down to New Egypt where we saw the Northern Lapwings.  I have National Geographic’s Birds of North America, and their sketch doesn’t do it justice.  In the cowpats, and mulepats, the birds were positively gleaming.  With the aid of borrowed scopes we had very nice views of the three lapwings amongst the Killdeer.  We also ran into other birders we knew!  Such a small world! Chris and Ray were arriving just as we were.

We stayed there for a bit before heading out to Colliers WMA in hopes of finding the feasting Red Crossbills, but despite driving around searching the premises for quite a good while, we had no luck.

From there we decided to head northward with the waning light and try our luck for the our old friend the Pink-footed Goose, as well as the Tundra Swans, Northern Shrike, and Barnacle Geese reported in the Assunpink  WMA.  We struck out on all four, alas, got a bit lost, but we did pick up a Red-throated Loon.  So all was not lost.  On Tuesday, it’s back to school again!  While school is local and I’ll still be in the area, my time will become much more constrained and I will be down to one day per week free.

So this was my last big hurrah bird-bird-bird day for time-being, but I’ll be checking my calendar to see when I can get out again.   And as the days get longer, I’ll have more opportunities for birding post work and class.