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Monday, December 29, 2014

My Top 10 Birds of 2014

So the year isn't quite over, there are still a few days left to find something to add to this list.  But barring a last minute birding surprise, here are my best birds of 2014.

10)  Calliope Hummingbird--a first state record found at my friend's feeders, this bird was a first Hunterdon County record and lingered for a week giving many folks a chance to see it.  One of 7 new birds I added to my county list this year.

1st Hunterdon County Calliope Hummingbird, Holland Twp.

9) Sanderling--After missing this bird in the county for the past two years, I was happy to finally see one at Spruce Run this fall.  One of the 7 birds I added to my Hunterdon County list this past year.

Sanderling, Spruce Run, Hunterdon, NJ

8) White-tailed Wheatear--This bird is a first record for The Netherlands if accepted as a wild bird.  I twitched it on the way to the airport on my way home, and got some distant digiscoped shots (below) of it sitting on an apartment building.  A great rarity and urban bird, and one of the 11 life birds I saw this past year.

7) Arctic Loon--A flyover on a jetty in the North Sea of The Netherlands was one of only 11 life birds I saw this past year.

6) Caspian Gull--I hiked over 8 miles down a beach in the rain and got totally soaked to see this bird, but it was one of the 11 lifers I saw this year.

5) Great Skua--I got a very distant look at this bird during a storm from a jetty in The Netherlands.  One of the 11 life birds I saw this year.

4) Whiskered Tern--I drove down to Cape May, my first trip down there in 19 years, to see this bird that spent a week flying around the hawk watch platform.  One of the 11 lifers I saw this year.

3)  White-tailed Eagle--I've dreamed of seeing this bird for a long time, and finally got to see several of them--if distantly--on my trip to The Netherlands in October.  One of the 11 lifers I saw this year.

A crummy digiscoped shot, but that large-headed, short-tailed blog on the post is an adult White-tailed Eagle :-)

2)  European Golden Plover--found by my local birding friends while I was in New York, I drove through the night to see it and was the first to get video (below) or photos confirming the identification by showing the white underwing.  This is a first state record for New Jersey.

1)  Neotropic Cormorant--I found this bird, a New Jersey first state record, at one of my local patches on the way home from the grocery store back in April.  It lingered until early July, giving hundreds of birders a chance to add this to their state list--and since it is a regional first, folks even came from out of state to enjoy it.

Neotropic Cormorant
First NJ record of Neotropic Cormorant, Clinton, Hunterdon, NJ
 I ended the year within a stone's throw of an ABA milestone, and may take some time out next year to chase a couple more birds for my North America list.  I ended the year with 240 species on my 2014 Hunterdon County list, ending in the top 3 again for the third year I lived here.  I didn't do as good a job of taking my kids birding as I had anticipated back in January, and my Holland trip was the only foreign trip of the year.  So not a big listing year outside of the county, but finding a 3rd third NJ record in 15 months was nothing to complain about!

Hope everyone had a fun time birding in 2014.  Feel free to share your own bests in the comments.

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