Topic: First Day of 2006 was a great birding day!

Yesturday (January 1, 2006), there were hooded mergansers, beautiful northern pintails, and other spectacular waterfowl present at Forsythe. There was a Peregrine Falcon in ocean city. I forget the exact location, but it was near the "old rail line" that kind of runs behind ocean city...it might have been near 63rd street but I'm really not certain. It was perched atop a wooden pole that was a part of the "old rail line" in the marshy back-bay area of Ocean City. At the avalon seawatch, there was a good number of black and surf scoters as well as a couple of long-tailed ducks. Jakes Landing was really awesome. At around 4:00 (that was about an hour before sunset) short-eared owls and Northern Harriers were present. This was my first short eared owl and I always thought I would spot my first short-eared owl at Jake's Landing since I had heard that it was such a reliable place to spot them! For anyone else who hasn't seen a short eared owl at Jake's Landing before but hopes to see one soon, my advice is too closely scan the reeds (AKA "Phragmites") as they do fly very low to the ground. I had a little bit of trouble differentiating the harriers from the short eared owls since they are both a little cylindrical in shape and form. The harriers have owl-like facial disks which give them that "flattened head" look of an owl and they are also somewhat similar to the short-eared owls in color. I find that the best field mark to rely on for this matter is the tail. The harrier has a distinctive long tail whereas the short eared owl does not. Does anyone know for how long these owls will be present at Jakes Landing? I would think that mid- to late March would be the last times to spot these awesome birds at Jake's Landing.