With the couple of hours available to me to pursue my big year goals, I decided to check out Wolfe's Pond and beach area in hopes of some gulls, rare waterfowl or songbird in the dunes. I started off with a scan of Wolfe's Pond from Holten Ave. The pond was swollen with waters from the high tide compounded by the run off from last night's steady rain, so the sand bar on the south end was not exposed. Without the sand bar, all of the gulls were huddled on the spit of land nearest Holten Ave. This made an easy check of the flock from my car. A quick glance over the flock and I could see they were "all" ring-billed gulls. Thinking of New Jersey's first mew gull found on Thursday at Spruce Run, I thought it was be prudent to double check they were indeed all ring-billed gulls and nothing was hiding within them. Besides the very long shot of mew gulls, there are other gulls that might mix into a flock on ring-billed. Most common of these are Bonaparte's gull, and a little rarer would be black-headed gull and even rarer still, a little gull.
Well, the second (or third) scan did turn up a Bonaparte's gull, check!
To back track a little bit... Just before leaving work yesterday, Ed received a call from Ray Matarazzo who reported Bonaparte's gulls and even some winter greater yellow-legs at Wolfe's Pond yesterday. So, my plan to chase another bird changed over to stopping at Wolfe's on my way home. Unfortunately, by the time I made it the pond, the rain had started and viewing was difficult.
Back to today... After the stop on the side of the pond I headed to the beach to check what waterfowl was around. Again, hoping a species seen in Jersey would turn up here. In particular, I was hoping that a western grebe would be around. For a few years in the mid-2000's, Wolfe's Pond and the fishing pier at Sharrott's Ave were the most reliable spots in the state to find a visiting western grebe, but none have been found in the last few years. Always have to hope though! So, down the beach I walked, stopping to scan the bay now and then. The most interesting birds was a flock of 22 killdeer resting on the beach. On bay, there were red-breasted merganser, common and red-throated loons, horned grebe, common golden-eye and bufflehead. I walked back to my car along Purdy Place, where nothing but canada geese and starlings were seen in the fields.
Within no time left for birding, and at least one addition made to the year list, it was time to head home...
I'm leading a walk at Great Kills Park tomorrow from 9am-11am, and birding with Dave afterwards, so crossing fingers some good birds will be around.... ("good bird" right now is defined either by a rare bird or a year-bird)