From Jeff Ellerbusch:
A quick recap of todays craziness… (Sunday, 8-28-2011 as Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene leaves the area)
Bufflehead Rd Ponds, 12:45 – 1:30
– Ring-billed Gull- 1 adult
– Herring- 1 adult, 1 juv
– Common Tern- 1 adult flying west
– 8+ Bank and 1 Cliff Swallow
Very flooded but I was able to pull into a raised lot to the right of the big pond. Water levels continued to rise and I nearly became stuck. A drive by later in the evening showed that it was completely inaccessible. The speed in which the water levels were rising around the river throughout the day was shocking…and scary.
Finderne Wetlands, 2ish – 5:30
– Laughing Gull- 16+, all juvs (This is the highest number I could get in a single scan, but half an hour before i had a group of 13 heading west…probably mainly the same birds though I never saw them circle back east, and in the hours following there single birds throughout)
– Least Tern- 1 juv seen well in a group of COTE and BLTE
– Black Tern- 3 juvs (Again, this was the highest count in one scan)
– Common Tern- 12+, adults and juvs (These especially, along with LAGU, I feel were ill represented, number wise, in my total count…but it was the highest number i could get in a single scan)
– Forster’s Tern- 1 Juv
– Merlin- 1
– Bald Eagle- 1
– Purple Martins, Banks, and Cliff Swallows (Swallow numbers were ridiculous but, unfortunately, I didn’t give them there due time…hard to give them attention when you have terns flying around)
When i got to Van Veghten Dr, where I access Finderne, I realized not only was the road flooded out but the Finderne Ave bridge was under water! This means that the Finderne field was under about 30 feet of water! What with the barricades and flooding I couldn’t get near the place. Finally I was able to access the farthest west hand corner of Finderne via the ball fields off of Loeser Ave. (Google Maps)- 40.559844,-74.597565 (green arrow). The viewing here was frustrating as I was not near the heart of Finderne, which would be a huge body of water, and because there were only three narrow viewing areas between the trees and they, for the most part, sucked.
Due to the narrowness of the field of view, and that the birds were being blown around like mad, it was difficult to get true counts. Also making the counting difficult was that as soon as the birds would meet the western tip of Finderne they would gain altitude and double back…only to try and power west again. I was seeing birds coming from the east, as well as birds circling back from the west, but for the most part birds were just milling around. From my narrow vantage point it was hard to tell what was coming, going, and reentering. The birds seemed extremely reluctant to leave the raging body of water that was finderne and enter the narrower stretch of river to the west… Infact, when viewing from the vantage point that allowed me to see this, I never actually saw a Tern or LAGU commit and continue west out of Finderne. It felt as if Finderne was a holding tank for all birds coming up the Raritan. The counts above represent the highest counts I could get in single scans. While the amount of Finderne I could see was a bit pathetic the part I was able to see I could see very well… meaning all birds above were seen very well.
On the way home I stopped and scanned the field behind Patriots Stadium from a lot on E Main Street- 1 Black Tern was up with the Swallows.