Sunday, January 30, 2011

Back in the Field (Sort Of)

Given how miserably cold it has been, I haven't been doing much birding over the past two months. Since it was a balmy 38 degrees today, and I was near the Long Slip Pedestrian Bridge, anyway (a long walkway that goes along the water and takes you from Hoboken to Jersey City), I decided to go and see what was going on with the birds.

This area has tons of seagulls. There are usually also some cormorants further out, plus some ducks, and the occasional geese or other birds (I even saw two least sandpipers there over the summer).

Today, the gulls were present, as always, and very sassy. One picked up a big chunk of ice, flew away with it, then came back, landed next to me, dropped the ice, and started screaming at me until I left. So I went on a little further to my usual duck-spotting site to check the duck levels.

I was not disappointed! In addition to five Canada Geese gliding by, and the usual cast of gulls, there were two mallards, sleeping on a bit of wood. Two gadwalls also glided by (these seem to be the most common duck around when it's warm; I've seen over a dozen in this spot at once during the summer/fall), and, for the first time, three ruddy ducks, who looked to be asleep and just letting the current carry them around. Ruddy ducks are apparently cold weather visitors to the area. I saw a group of them at Liberty State Park in November in the harbor, but I didn't know they visited this part of Hoboken, so I was pretty excited. Because I am a big nerd.

The experience was capped off when I was walking back home and passed the spot of my seagull confrontation. A couple was walking by and sent down on a bench facing the water. A big group of seagulls came up and landed on the rails, facing them, all at once. One of the seagulls began to scream. The woman freaked out and got up to leave. The man went with her, but he was laughing.

If we get another bearable weekend like this one, I'll have to go back to Liberty, in search of hawks. My husband-to-be saw one over our street about a month ago as he was leaving for work, but not all of us are so fortunate!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011