Female Lark http://imgarcade.com/1/lark-bunting-female/
By Pete Bacinski | For Inside Jersey
on September 25, 2016 at 8:00 AM, updated September 25, 2016 at 8:05 AM
AN ORDINARY mid-September day revealed a nice avian gift at Sandy Hook — an eighth state record of a lark bunting. Birder Tom Boyle, who knows every nook and cranny of this marvelous birding location, made the discovery.
Lark bunting is a sparrow that nests in the North American Great Plains, from southern Canada south to northern Texas, and winters from the American southwest and to southern Mexico.
The Sandy Hook bird was a female. These birds that are rather plain in comparison with the gaudy males, which sport a black coat and white wing patches.
Most lark buntings that have appeared in the Garden State have been what birders label "a one-day wonder" — here today and gone tomorrow. And they're usually only observed by the person or people who find it.
This bird, however, blessed us with its presence for two days — providing fantastic looks for those making it to the Hook. It was first reported on a Thursday and, though it did not remain through the popular birding day of Saturday, crowds of birders did arrive and were able to mark a significant tick on their New Jersey bird list. (In 1989, I observed a lark bunting in Highland Park; and it remained there for a week.)
The Sandy Hook bird allowed close approach and spent its time actively feeding out in the open — to the delight of all observers.
An interesting birding event took place last weekend — a pelagic overnight birding boat trip, well offshore of New Jersey, to view birds that spend most of their lives at sea.
Those braving this trip were rewarded with a great array of marvelous pelagic species including the "grand slam" of storm-petrels — Wilson's, Leach's, band-rumped and white-faced (the last two are very rare). In addition, the birders also saw a South Polar skua; a black-capped petrel; Cory's, great and Audubon's shearwaters; a bridle tern; and long-tailed and parasitic jaegers.
The participants were able to notch many ticks on their New Jersey lists.
This column is compiled and written by Pete Bacinski, longtime New Jersey birder and retired NJ Audubon All Things Birds program director. Questions or comments should be directed to him by emailing email@example.com.