Sunday, January 08, 2012

Birding Johnson Park

Not a bird.
Yesterday morning, I walked most of the length of Johnson Park, or at least most of what it easily accessible to the public. None of the birds were particularly extraordinary, but a few are not always easy to find in the county. First off, there were huge numbers of gulls, and almost all of them seemed to Herring Gulls. I estimated about 950 Herring Gulls spread over 3 or 4 flocks, with the largest flock having 500 Herring Gulls in it. Try as I might, I was not able to pick out any unusual gulls in those flocks. Canada Goose numbers seemed on the low side for that park (only 620), but it is possible that some had already left by the time I counted them.

As usual, there were a lot of waterfowl gathered around the Landing Lane bridge. These included Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, Ring-necked Ducks, and Bufflehead. I crossed the bridge and walked a bit up the canal towpath to get a better look at the latter two species. By the way I got to their original location, though, most of them had disappeared, so the extra distance did not really pay off much. Between Landing Lane and East Jersey Olde Towne, I found a Brown Creeper along the edge of the woods. I also saw two Cooper's Hawks. One was getting harassed by crows across River Road from the stadium; the other was sitting in a creek near the railroad bridge. One other notable sighting was a Great Blue Heron that was standing in a creek near the Rt 18 bridge. I rarely see Great Blue Herons foraging in a location that densely wooded on both sides.

Daffodils? In January??
Yesterday was unusually warm, with a high of at least 64°F. December temperatures were well above average, and we have had only a few short cold spells, so it was no wonder to see daffodils poking up through the leaves. Still, I take it as an indicator of just how crazy this winter has been.