North American Birds

VOLUME 68 NO2 2015

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

Issue link: http://nab.aba.org/i/502371

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V O L U M E 6 8 ( 2 0 1 5 ) • N U M B E R 2 195 Hudson-Delaware Lookout, Nassau 5 Jan (PJL, SM). There were at least 5 Barnacle Geese reported: at Westport, Essex, NY 1-8 Dec (Gary Chapin); at Belmont Lake S.P., Suffolk, NY 7-10 Jan (DR), where one has been present in the past four winters; and one in Manhattan on Randall's Island 25-29 Jan (Anya Auerbach). Another Barnacle Goose was seen at Ramsey High School Field, Bergen, NJ through 19 Jan (Michael Turso), accompanied by 3 hybrid geese (see SA Box, below). The number of Snow Geese that wintered in Delaware was about normal until the cold weather set in in mid-Jan, after which the num- bers decreased sharply. Ross's Goose numbers were average; one rare blue morph was found at Bombay Hook 20 Jan (fde APE). Totals of 27 Greater White-fronted Geese and 34 Eurasian Wigeons were both high. Four Eurasian Teal were reported, one in New York, 2 in New Jer- sey, and one in Delaware. Thre Tufted Ducks N.W.R., Kent, DE); Cape Henlopen (Cape Henlopen S.P., Sussex, DE); Cape May Point (Cape May Point S.P., Cape May, NJ); Indian River Inlet (Sussex, DE); Montauk (Mon- tauk Point, Suffolk, NY); Sandy Hook (Sandy Hook NWR, Monmouth, NJ). WATERFOWL THROUGH HERONS Pink-footed Goose has become an annual visi- tor to the Region in the winter; one frequented Riverhead, Suffolk, NY 16 Jan–2 Mar (Arie Gil- bert), joined there by a second 1-2 Mar (DR). Large numbers of Pale-bellied Brant (subspecies hrota) winter in the Region, and occasionally other subspecies are found in the large focks. The most commonly found subspecies is Black Brant (nigricans), but no reports of this sub- species were made this year. However, a good candidate for the rarer Gray-bellied Brant (no subspecies designation) was reported at Point Frank Rohrbacher Robert O. Paxton Shaibal S. Mitra Tom Reed –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– W inter in the Region was one of the coldest and snowiest in many years. The cold started in mid-December, and near-record-low temperatures were fre- quent. By early January, large portions of the Great Lakes were frozen, and by early Febru- ary more than 85% of the Great Lakes and the large lakes in New York were ice-covered. This resulted in the mass exodus of birds such as Redheads, White-winged Scoters, and Red- necked Grebes southward. These birds ended up in any open water they could fnd as far south as Delaware by mid-January and either on the ocean or south of the Region by early February. Record snow levels were recorded over much of the area, particularly near the coast, with repeated snows of 10-20 cm up and down the coast. Numbers of Snow Geese and Canada Geese were low, as agricultural land was covered in snow in Delaware. Snowy Owls arrived in higher numbers than at any time in the past 50 years, and they were healthy, following a spectacular breeding season in the eastern Ca- nadian Arctic. With such bitter cold, the num- ber of half-hardy species recorded was much lower than in recent warm winters. Because of plentiful food in Canada, all of the northern fnches stayed north, and Red-breasted Nut- hatches and Purple Finches were scarce, even in upstate New York. Rarer species recorded during the season in- cluded Pink-footed Goose, Tufted Duck, Pacifc Loon, Western Grebe, Brown Booby, Mew Gull, Great Skua, White-winged Dove, Gyrfalcon, Varied Thrush, Smith's Longspur and Western Tanager. Abbreviations: Barnegat (Barnegat Light, Ocean, NJ); Bombay Hook (Bombay Hook SA An ad. Barnacle accompanied by 3 hybrid geese, presumably its ofspring (with either Canada or Cackling as the other parent), have been noted for three winter seasons in the Region. They were frst documented by Anthony Laquidara at the Applegarth School, Middlesex, NJ 11 Dec 2011 (ph. in eBird checklist) and noted as Canada x Barnacle hybrids; the hybrids in Laquidara's images appear to be juveniles, hatched in 2011. In winter 2012-2013, they were present at Spruce Run Reservoir, Hunterdon, NJ from 31 Dec 2012 (Frank Sencher, Jr.) through much of Jan/Feb 2013; Roger Dreyling and Larry Scacchetti documented them in Middlesex again along along Perrineville Rd. and at Thompson Park 16-23 Feb 2013. This winter, they were noted from at least 2 Dec 2013 through 19 Jan 2014 at (and near) the Ramsey Golf and Country Club, Bergen, NJ. They were also photographed along Fleming Landing Rd., New Castle, DE 22 Feb (Tim Schreckngost, Alan Kneidel). In the spring season, the birds frequented Rahway River Park, Union, NJ 1-9 Mar (Davis Bernstein, A. Chodan et al.). The birds have also returned for winter 2014-2015 to Bergen (m.ob.) Excellent photographs and a discussion of these birds by Tom Johnson (Mar/Apr 2014 issue of Birding, pp. 52-54) raises fascinating questions about their identifcation, but, at this stage, it is not known whether the Barnacle Goose mated with a Canada, a Cackling, or even a hybrid of those two to produce these intriguing geese. In New Jersey and Delaware, a wandering group of three hybrid geese accompanying an adult Barnacle Goose puzzled the Hudson-Delaware region's birders for their third consecutive winter. The group spent 2 (here 4) December 2013 through 19 January 2014 in the vicinity of the Ramsey Golf and Country Club, Bergen County, New Jersey, but also turned up elsewhere in the state and even for one day, 22 February, in Delaware! Photograph by Tom Johnson.

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