I know, I know, I know, Wait.
You are suffering from post migration depression. There’s a cure.
Ducks. Yes ducks, waterfowl. Winter means ducks, Hardy cold impervious birds that get you out, gratify you with their colors and tantalize you with possibility.
Every flock of geese you scan holds the possibility of something unusual.
Happily New Jersey hosts a plethora of duck rich destinations.
When I lived in North Jersey, Dingman’s Ferry, in February, was close to a second home. The fast moving water was a magnet for wintering Common Goldeneye and Common Mergansers, too squeezed out of sluggish stretches of water.
There is something about the sight of these hardy divers that inspires.
In Bald Eagles, it inspires hunger searching for winter weakened birds. You can almost always count upon eagles to be perched along the banks of the river. To find them watch for attending crows, eagle acolytes.
Perhaps the regions most acclaimed duck destination is Barnegat Light. The inlet brims with Long-tailed Ducks. Common Eider are almost always present and those Harlequin Ducks, I’ve had them at my feet.
For Snow Geese, nothing beats Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge. Look sharp for those pint-sized Ross’s Geese. They’ll be about the size of the hordes of Brant in the Bay. The call of Brant, a cross between a honk and a pur . It is second in my book to the call of Tundra Swan which also winter at Brig. If you hear something that sounds like part whoop, part sigh, look up.
Puddle Ducks, it’s hard to beat Cape May. Lilly Lake, Bunker Pond and South Cape May often stay free of ice. Where you find open water, you’ll find ducks concentrated.
Harlequin Duck: Shannon Merolla
NJ Audubon Birding Ambassador
Author Birds of Prey and coauthor Hawks in Flight