Saturday, February 3, 2018
Today, it's twelve degrees and you can't even go outside. When the temperatures do rise above the freezing mark, it actually feels pleasant. Thursday was such a day and we headed to the beach. The drive out to Barnegat Light was cool as beach towns are lonely places in winter. The inlet is popular as it hosts many different type of sea ducks that migrate from the far north. Common Eider, Oldsquaw, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, White Wing Scoter, Loons, and different alcids and gulls can be found. One of the most popular attractions are the Harlequin ducks. These brightly patterned, tough little birds migrate from Greenland and Iceland to spend the winter diving between the rocks for food. We walked out past the light house and the swells were splashing on the walk way and making ice on the jetty. A seal was swimming in the inlet and about half way out a pair of Harlequins were diving between the rocks, right at our feet. We were so close that I could have scooped them with a fluke net! We got some cool pictures and added another bird to the list. After walking out to the end, we explored the beach and headed back towards home. We drove out to the Manahawkin wildlife management area to see what we could find. Overlooking the vast marsh, it would appear barren to the casual observer, but in among the creeks and spillways, were swans, black duck and Great Blue herons. A few Northern Harriers hunted over the reeds as did two bald eagles, but we did not find the short-eared owls we were hoping to see. Lots more exploring to do when the weather allows.