MCAS "Great Backyard Bird Count" at Manasquan Reservoir
Feb
15
to Feb 18

MCAS "Great Backyard Bird Count" at Manasquan Reservoir

  • Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

Audubon and Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology will host the annual Great Backyard Bird Count over Presidents Weekend, February 16-19.

Bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count. Count birds in your yard or at your favorite park, then enter your checklists at birdcount.org All the data contribute to a snapshot of bird distribution and help scientists
see changes over the past 21 years.

The first year, bird watchers submitted about 13,500 checklists from the United States and Canada. Fast-forward to the most recent event in 2017. Over the four days of the count, an estimated 214,000 bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted nearly 174,000 bird checklists reporting 5,940 species – more than half the known bird species in the world.

MCAS will be counting birds at the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center
over the weekend, and we will report our results on our Facebook page and on the
website. Visitors are welcome and encouraged! For more information on how to
participate in your own back yard, please visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org.

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Sandy Hook Winter Bird Walk
Feb
24
10:00 AM10:00

Sandy Hook Winter Bird Walk

Have you ever seen a Snow Bunting? How about a Northern Harrier, a Yellow-rumped Warbler or a Long-tailed Duck?

These, and many other varieties of birds, will be sought when the Monmouth County Audubon Society hosts a bird walk on Sandy Hook on Sunday, February 24. This is a great opportunity to shake off the stuffiness of winter, get some sunshine, and enjoy the outdoors.

The trip will be led by accomplished birders who are very familiar with Sandy Hook and its birds. “Many species of ducks which breed in the Arctic spend the winter in the area,” explains Linda Mack, field trip leader and past president of the organization. “They seek protection in the coves along the Hook and usually remain most of the season. In addition, hawks continue to hunt here all winter, and they’re fascinating to watch. And we don’t discount the possibility of seeing some really rare birds”  such as Snowy Owls, rare visitors from the Canadian Arctic are rarely seen along the East Coast.

Anyone interested in participating in the event can meet at 10:00 am in parking lot near the Visitor Center (which is closed) The lot is just south of the ranger's station, approximately 1.8 miles north of the entrance gate.

The trip is open to both members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society, and participation is free. Advance registration is not required. Participants should dress appropriately for cold temperatures and windy conditions, which are common along the coast. Binoculars are essential, and a field guide is helpful. In case of a questionable weather forecast, check the organization’s website after 6pm the evening before the trip for updates.

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“Timberdoodle Walk” at Big Brook Park
Mar
16
6:30 PM18:30

“Timberdoodle Walk” at Big Brook Park

The Monmouth County Audubon Society will sponsor an evening field trip to Big Brook County Park in search of Tiberdoodles, or American Woodcock, on Saturday, March 16, at 6:30 pm. Participation is free.

Located on County Road 520 in Marlboro, the original 379-acre parcel of land that established Big Brook Park was formerly used as farmland for patients at the Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital, located across the street. Named for Big Brook, which drains into the Swimming River Reservoir, the park contains forest made up of young wetland and maturing American beech, white oak, tulip poplar and hickory trees. Perhaps the park is better known for its rolling fields; made up of grasses, goldenrod and other perennials that provide a contiguous field habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife.

One bird species in particular is the target for this trip: the American Woodcock. American Woodcock spend most of their time hidden in fields and on the forest floor, where they probe for earthworms. On spring nights, however, their priorities change, and attracting a mate becomes more important than remaining camouflaged. Males advertise for a mate with a buzzy “peent” call. That vocalization signals the start of one wacky courtship display. The male takes flight and climbs from 50 to 100 yards into the air. He descends, zigzagging and banking while singing a liquid, chirping song. This high spiraling flight produces a melodious twittering sound as air rushes through the male's outer primary wing feathers. This display is truly like nothing else in nature and is why the group is making a special trip at dusk to experience it.

The group will meet at 6:30 pm in the parking lot of the park, located just off County Road 520.

The trip is open to both members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society, and participation is free. Advance registration is not required. Participants should dress in weather-appropriate clothing, keeping in mind that temperatures drop quickly toward evening. Binoculars are recommended, and a field guide may be helpful.

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Visit Sandy Hook with Monmouth County Audubon Society
Apr
20
10:00 AM10:00

Visit Sandy Hook with Monmouth County Audubon Society

Spring is officially here, and with it comes the annual migration of raptors and songbirds along the Atlantic Flyway. Join the Monmouth County Audubon Society for a spring Bird Walk to look for these migrants. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 20, on Sandy Hook.

The peninsula of Sandy Hook acts as a natural funnel to the north-flying migrants. The birds prefer flying over land to flying over water and often “lay over” at Sandy Hook to feed and renew their energy before flying over the expansive Raritan Bay and New York Harbor. This geography makes Sandy Hook an excellent place to observe many species of migrating birds in a limited area. The bird “guest list” changes daily at Sandy Hook, depending on weather conditions and food supply.

The trip will be led by members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society who are familiar with Sandy Hook and its birds. Linda Mack, past MCAS president and Sandy Hook trip leader, explains, “The lure of Sandy Hook isn’t just the birds. Sandy Hook is a peaceful, beautiful natural area with a variety of interesting habitats to explore. And spring is one of the best times to visit,” she concludes, “because of the abundance of birds and wildlife. Falcons such as the American Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon migrate north along the coast. The songbirds begin arriving in late March, along with the Osprey (listed as “Threatened” by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection) and the federally threatened Piping Plover.”

Anyone interested in participating in the event can meet at 10:00 am in the parking lot of the former Sandy Hook Visitor’s Center, located 1.8 miles north of the park entrance. This is across the road from the Spermaceti Cove observation boardwalk.

The trip is open to both members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society, and participation is free. Advance registration is not required. Participants should dress appropriately for chilly temperatures, which are common along the coast at this time of year. Binoculars are essential, and a field guide is helpful. Pets are not permitted.

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Migration-palooza at Allaire State Park
May
4
8:15 AM08:15

Migration-palooza at Allaire State Park

What is “warbler neck?”

The answer to this question and many others will be revealed when the Monmouth County Audubon Society hosts their annual field trip to Allaire State Park, 4265 Atlantic Ave, Wall Township, on Saturday, May 4.

“At this time of year, bird plumage is at its brightest and songs are loudest,” says Dena Temple, trip leader. “To hear birdsong echoing through the woods is a delight. Anyone interesting in learning how to identify spring migrants by song is in for a real treat. We are never disappointed at Allaire.” She adds, “And yes, you’ll definitely find out what ‘warbler neck’ is.”

While most of a bird’s year is spent trying to be invisible to predators, things change in the spring. The priority for birds in the spring is breeding, and birds have a variety of ways to attract a mate. For one, most birds molt into their beautiful, colorful breeding plumage, to make them more attractive to the opposite sex. In addition, birds sing – loudly and often – in an effort to establish a territory and attract a mate. Once summer is underway, a bird’s priorities shift to nesting and raising young. Their feathers revert to the duller “basic plumage,” and they sing much less.

The migration season brings a great variety of birds through our area, and Allaire State Park is what birders refer to as a “migrant trap,” an oasis of woodland habitat surrounded by suburbs. This acts as a magnet for birds passing through, which are drawn to the plentiful food (mostly insects) and native plant cover. The diversity of the habitat and the rich feeding grounds are especially attractive to wood-warblers. “We may see and hear 15 species of warblers, several species of flycatchers, Scarlet Tanagers, and maybe Rose-breasted Grosbeak,” adds Michael Casper, co-leader and past president of the organization.

Anyone interested in participating in the event can meet at 8:15 a.m. in the main parking lot by the historic village. Follow the Garden State Parkway to Exit 98, then follow the brown signs for Allaire State Park. The walk through the park will end before noon.

The trip is open to both members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society, and participation is free. Advance registration is not required. Participants should bring binoculars and field guides and should dress appropriately for the weather, including clothing suitable for rain if the forecast is questionable. The walk will take place light rain or shine. If the weather is doubtful participants can check the organization’s website for any last-minute changes. Pets are not permitted.

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Sandy Hook Winter Bird Walk
Dec
9
10:00 AM10:00

Sandy Hook Winter Bird Walk

Have you ever seen a Snow Bunting? How about a Northern Harrier, a Yellow-rumped Warbler or a Long-tailed Duck?

These, and many other varieties of birds, can be seen when the Monmouth County Audubon Society hosts a bird walk on Sandy Hook on Sunday, December 9.

The trip will be led by members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society, all very familiar with Sandy Hook and its birds. “Many species of ducks which breed in the Arctic spend the winter in the area,” explains Lisa Ann Fanning, one of the leaders of the bird walk. “They seek protection in the coves along Sandy Hook and usually remain here most of the winter. In addition, hawks continue to hunt here all winter, and they’re fascinating to watch. And we don’t discount the possibility of seeing some really rare birds. It takes some time to find one rare duck in a flock of several hundred, but the more eyes searching the flock, the better our chances.”

Anyone interested in participating in the event can meet at 10:00 am in the parking lot by the old Visitor Center, 1.8 miles north of the park entrance.

The trip is open to both members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society, and participation is free. Advance registration is not required. Participants should dress appropriately for the weather, which can be blustery and unpredictable along the coast; wear comfortable shoes and bring binoculars and field guides. In case of a questionable weather forecast, check the organization’s website after 6pm the evening before the trip for updates.

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Visit a bird banding station with Monmouth County Audubon Society (new date)
Nov
3
8:00 AM08:00

Visit a bird banding station with Monmouth County Audubon Society (new date)

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a NEW DATE for this field trip due to inclement weather on its original date.

Bird banding can be used to study the relative health of migratory bird populations. The Monmouth County Audubon Society will tour a banding station on Sandy Hook to learn about the process on Saturday, October 27. The group will meet at 8:00 am on Sandy Hook in the grassy field near “M” lot, the most northerly parking lot.

The peninsula of Sandy Hook attracts migrating raptors, shorebirds and songbirds due to the abundance of food and areas of suitable habitat. This makes Sandy Hook an excellent place to study many species of migrating birds in a limited area.

Bird bander and field biologist Tom Brown began banding at Sandy Hook in Spring 2009, primarily to study the importance of Sandy Hook as a stop-over site for migratory land birds, but also to study the importance of Sandy Hook as a wintering site for migrant land birds that historically have a more southerly wintering range. Nets are run in the spring and fall. From mid-October through late early December banding takes place near “M” lot. Part of the project includes extracting one tail feather from Gray Catbirds and Hermit Thrush. These feathers are sent to a lab in California for stable isotope analysis to identify particular geographic locations where these birds spent their summer. Banding these birds also allows us to identify the age of the birds that are overwintering on Sandy Hook.

In addition to banding at Sandy Hook, Mr. Brown supervises four MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding sites, three on Staten Island, and one at Fort Tilden (Queens, NY).

This is a unique opportunity to watch the banding process, and hopefully the experience will provide insight into the methods and importance of monitoring bird populations, including their health and movement.

The trip is open to both members and non-members of the Monmouth County Audubon Society, and participation is free. Advance registration is not required. Participants should bring binoculars and dress appropriately for the weather. Pets are not permitted.

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Join the "Big Sit" with Monmouth County Audubon
Oct
13
10:00 AM10:00

Join the "Big Sit" with Monmouth County Audubon

PLEASE NOTE: This event will start at 10 AM, since the weather is supposed to be unfavorable early in the morning.

Join the Monmouth County Audubon Society as they participate in the annual "Big Sit" Saturday, October 13, at Sandy Hook.

The Big Sit! is an annual, international, non-competitive birding event hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest and founded by the New Haven (CT) Bird Club. Every year, bird watchers from around the globe participate in this free event, open to any person and club in any country. There are Big Sit! circles all over the world, including Guatemala, India, the Netherlands, England, Vietnam and New Zealand.

The object of the Big Sit is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The real challenge is the second requirement: Find a good spot for bird watching, preferably one with good views of a variety of habitats and lots of birds, and create a circle 17 feet in diameter -- then sit inside that circle for 24 hours, counting all the bird species you see or hear. That’s it. Find a spot, sit in it, have fun, then submit your findings.

There are three ways to "win" this non-competitive event:

∙ The team with the highest overall count wins major bragging rights.
∙ The team with the highest count in the state wins local bragging rights.
∙  Groups who find the "golden bird," a bird randomly chosen in advance, are entered into a drawing for a $500 cash prize sponsored by Swarovski Optik.

Monmouth County Audubon members will be counting birds on Sandy Hook from the observation platform overlooking Spermaceti Cove, across from the (now closed) Visitor Center parking lot, 1.8 miles north of the park entrance gate. The platform provides views of Sandy Hook bay, the surrounding holly forest,  and the surrounding salt marsh.

Participants are allowed to come and go from the circle—especially for the purpose of bringing food back into the circle—and the circle need not be occupied for the entire 24 hours. MCAS members will man their circle from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. The public is welcome to stop by and count birds for as long as they like. Bring binoculars, and bring your own food and beverages, if desired.

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Butterflies and Birds of Tatum Park
Sep
15
10:00 AM10:00

Butterflies and Birds of Tatum Park

Join the Monmouth County Audubon Society for a late summer butterfly and bird walk at Tatum Park in Middletown. The event will take place on Sunday, Saturday 15, starting at 10:00 am.

Tatum Park has 366 acres of rolling hills, open fields and bird-filled woods, as well as two Activity Centers, a playground and miles of scenic trails, for area residents to enjoy. The park is named for the Tatum family, who donated 73 acres of property to the county in 1973. Walkers, runners, bicyclists and equestrians can watch the colors change each season on winding paths through stands of tulip trees, and red and chestnut oaks. Or, enjoy the quiet landscape on trails through beautiful fields and meadows. Our group will concentrate on the meadows, where we hope to see migrating Monarch butterflies along with many other butterfly species. Bird migration will be well underway at this time, also, and birds that may be seen include sparrows, warblers, songbirds and raptors.

Anyone interested in participating in the event can meet at 10:00 am in the main parking area off Holland Road.

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