The morning started at 4 degrees and the winds were outright rough. When I arrived on Long Beach Island the stoplights were practically sideways. I didn't realize it would get even worse...
I was taking my annual trip to Barnegat Light. The state park has a cement walkway for the "normal" people, but the jetty is where "its" at. The jetty stretches far along the inlet and out into the ocean. It can be brutal, but beautiful. The winds can knock you off balance; the waves can soak you. But the birds, will always mesmerize you. ...as they do for me.
Here's a photo from down the jetty from another trip. On this particular trip, I had zero company. I was the only idiot out in the wind for the entire 2.5 hours I was there.
All the usual suspects were there in full glory, putting on a show for me. I'll get to the photos:
There must have been 100+ of these. Here's some more photos.
The scoters left a bit to be desired. I only saw a handful of Surf Scoters, but there were a ton of Black Scoters. No White-winged Scoters, unfortunately.
There was a previously reported Pacific Loon, and as hard as I tried, I could not relocate it. There were plenty of Common and Red-throated Loons to thoroughly get my hopes up, however.
The shorebirds are always an attraction as well. I don't know of any better place to get so up close and personal with these birds. I am enthralled with watching their interactions and behavior from a short distance.
Oddly, there wasn't a single Eider in sight. That's actually a first for me in my handful of trips. However, the star attraction was out in full force... The Harlequin Ducks. These colorful, charismatic guys are always fun to watch and are arguably one of the most aesthetically-pleasing ducks. You be the judge...
On the way out, I did see one Harbor Seal. It didn't offer a good photo opportunity so here's one from the past in the same inlet... not that is great either. Still waiting to capture these guys properly.
On the way out, I picked up a few quick shots of the smaller guys (I apologize for not taking any of the yellow-rumped warblers, but they are there and easy if you want to see them). I also found two Peregrines keeping an ever-watchful eye over their turf from high above the beach on the water tower.
On the way out, I checked some of the back bays to see what I could turn up. I was pleasantly surprised by some more waterfowl.
After I was satisfied with the North side of LBI, I moved on to check some other inlets further North. It was uneventful, and I saw basically smaller numbers of what I had already seen, besides a Bonaparte's Gull. I did hit one spot in Brick that had reports of Redheads and scored on them... my first of the year. Thank you ebirders! I'll finish with those shots.
It was freezing. The wind was ridiculously constant. But I dressed appropriately, and had an amazing day out with the birds who deal with it because they have no choice. Totally worth it.