Big Year Birding – Snowy Owls!

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There’s a bit of a debate underway on our local birding discussion list about Snowy Owls.  Some say we’re experiencing an irruption year, while others maintain that this year is really nothing out of the ordinary.

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At this writing, there have been seven Snowy Owls reported in New Jersey over the past 2-3 weeks.  That’s right – seven!

Above are my not-too-great photos of the two most persistent owls at Sandy Hook.  I’ve been birding for several years now – over 10 years actively and with these two birds I have doubled my number of Snowy Owls.   Amazing.

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After tracking down both the owls, I decided to try for another rare winter visitor – Lapland Longspur.  Lapland Longspurs will occasionally show up in very small numbers and are most often found associated with flocks of Snow Bunting.  A large flock of Snow Bunting was hanging out in these dunes yesterday and, from time to time, they would briefly fly from one location to the next.  It took over 90 minutes of watching and waiting before the flock stayed airborne long enough to spot not one, but two, Lapland Longspurs.

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I spent the remainder of the day hiking along the beaches, watching flocks of gulls and ducks loafing and feeding in the waves.  It was a cold, brisk day near the water but there were still a few fishermen trolling the waters near the beach.

With the addition of Snowy Owl and Lapland Longspur, My New Jersey Big Year count now stands at 309 species with a month to go!

Until next time, Good Birding!

Greg

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6 thoughts on “Big Year Birding – Snowy Owls!

    1. Greg Post author

      I met a small group of birders from Long Island yesterday who told me that there were 4 Snowy Owls there. It seems that the eastern seaboard is the place to be this year. Good luck!

      Reply
  1. Sandra Keller

    Congratulations Greg! That’s a great total for your big year! I hope to see more Snowy Owls this winter. That one inland at the Red Bank – National Park dredge spoils was something though!

    Reply
  2. Patricia Pfeiffer

    Great addition to your count!! We were lucky enough to see the Snowy exactly where your picture shows her. We have read reports of 2 at Forsythe now, saw pics (you probably know all this) of a Male snowy in flight pics on FB page for Forsythe..

    Good luck, now i need to find the larkspur also!! Thanks for your help, i have asked you a few questions..

    Reply
    1. Greg Post author

      Thanks! It was amazing to see two Snowy Owls on the same day. They seem to be showing up everywhere! Glad you got to see them too.

      Reply

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