Saturday, January 14, 2017

January 14 - North Fork birds

The regular group of Andy, Jen, Bill and I went out to eastern Long Island's North Fork this morning for some birds.  The first stop was in the town of Southold for the previously reported & week-long staying Townsend's Solitaire.  Fortunately for us this was a drive-up bird as it was seen perched atop a tree as we arrived.  The bird does move around a bit, however stays in the same general area so viewing can be done from one spot.  At one point the bird had circled around behind us and was seemingly taking a look at us !
This was my 369th species seen within New York State.

Click to enlarge
credit: Bill Elrick

We then did some seawatching into the Long Island Sound where we saw some lovely White-Winged Scoters, Black Scoters, Long-Tailed Ducks, and Common Goldeneyes.

We then headed back west toward Riverhead and stopped at the home of Margaret, a nice woman that is welcoming small groups of birders into her backyard to see some rare hummingbirds.  As we were told the first hummingbird arrived in October, being attracted to her extensive flower plantings.  As the seasons progressed and these blooms died, she has setup a few heated hummingbird feeders.  To her further surprise yet a second hummingbird then began calling her yard home.   The hummingbirds appear to be Rufous Hummingbirds, and these birds will continue to be studied by local aviary experts to confirm their species.  The one bird was sporting a small gorget, indicating that it is a male.  Here is a fine gif of the bird showing it's wonderful colors, and respiration.

credit: Bill Elrick

With a short day today we then headed toward home, and made a final stop at Lake Ronkokoma. Here we saw a pair of Tundra Swans amongst the numerous Mute Swans, a surprising Red-Throated Loon on this freshwater lake, and many Common Mergansers.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

January 7 - Black Dirt region

A few hours of birding today up in the Black Dirt Region of New York's Orange County.  Here we saw some Rough-Legged Hawks, a large flock of Horned Lark that contained some Snow Buntings, and a pair of Lapland Longspurs.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

January 1 - Do You Hatsuhinode?

Do you ?
Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the year and is one of many firsts that the Japanese take note of during the celebration of the new year. This tradition has been practiced since ancient times – originally performed at the beginning of spring based on the lunar calendar, hatsuhinode is now practiced faithfully on January 1st . The ideal place to perform hatsuhinode is at the waters edge.

I ask this question because back in 2014 during my last New Year's Day visit to Montauk Point I learned that many people, including a majority of these folks being of Japanese heritage, enjoy taking in the first sunrise of the new year at the water's edge of the easternmost point of Long Island.  This morning we witnessed this event once again...

For the birding, we arrived at Montauk Point State Park, at the easternmost point of the Long Island's South Fork, just before 9:00 am.  Straight away we had Razorbills in flight, and throughout the next two hours we saw more than 50 of these alcids.

Bill E. had a brief view of a Dovekie, but it was not long enough for the rest of our group to get on it.  Along with the expected Red-Breasted Mergansers, Common Loons and Red-Throated Loons, Common Goldeneye, Long-Tailed Ducks, Common Eider, and three scoters of Black, Common, and Surf we were able to locate one Black-Legged Kittiwake.
Credit: Ron Knight

On our drive back west, we stopped at Hook Pond and saw a Greater White-Fronted Goose along Further Lane.

The next stop was Shinnecock Inlet.  Here I was able to spot a Snowy Owl, a species that likely will be rare this year as it is not an irruption year for them.  Later we saw a Harlequin Duck, and then I saw the Glaucous Gull sitting on the bay side jetty.

Monday, December 26, 2016

December 26 - Christmas Rarity !

This morning our regular group went out, minus Bill, and headed south to Manasquan Inlet for a SeaWatch.  Here we saw most of the expected species of Common & Red-Throated Loons, All three Scoters, Ring-Billed, Herring & Greater Black-Backed Gulls, Brant, Cormorants, numerous Northern Gannets, Purple Sandpipers, Long-Tailed Ducks, and some Common Eider.

Our next stop was on the way back north in the area of Holmdel because the over-wintering Canada Goose flocks had some seasonal rarities amongst the ubiquitous Canadas...Immediately we saw the two Pink-Footed Geese along Willow Brook/Long Bridge Roads, and thereafter stopped at Vonage's Corporate Headquarters and saw the Ross' Goose.  While viewing the geese a rare-bird alert had my phone chiming and we headed farther north toward Somerset County's Franklin Township. This area is known for the handful of Sandhill Cranes that winter in the harvested corn fields.  As luck would have it we did see 7 of the cranes in flight as we made our approach to the rare bird location.

Here we were looking for a Rock Wren, which had been found yesterday by another birder who had been in search of the Sandhill Cranes. This is how rarities are often found...while searching for other rarities. We had to wait about 30 minutes along with a few dozen other birders, and spent that time catching up with old friends & exchanging holiday greetings.  About 1:30 pm the target bird was relocated and everyone present was able to get clear, as well as, lengthy scope views of the rarity.

credit: Ben Barkely

This Rock Wren is the second known record for New Jersey, with the last one occurring back in the winter of 1992-1993.  This was NJ State bird # 382 for me.  Here is a history of this species' records on the East Coast

The above video was created by Dave Blinder

Here is the species typical range. click to enlarge:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

December 10 - New York's City Hall

Today brought a trip to a famous landmark in New York City, specifically City Hall.  This is a very unusual destination for me to look at birds, but there have been a few lingering birds that have been drawn to the oasis of trees & plantings that surround this center of New York politics.

Our primary target was the Western Tanager and although it did not show until 9:30 we still had a fine time looking at the other seasonal rarities beforehand.  Here is the Western Tanager.  This was my first sighting of the species within New York State, and is State Bird # 368.

We had also seen a male Black-Throated Blue Warbler, and also an Ovenbird, and finally we saw the Yellow-Breasted Chat.

On our way back to New Jersey we stopped an Inwood Hill Park for a look at the flycatcher that has been the subject of many discussions as to it's species.  It appears to be a Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher, however it is also possible that this bird could be a species of Western Flycatcher.  I'll let the experts decide on it's ultimate species ID.

credit: Zach S-W

Saturday, December 03, 2016

December 3 - Sandy Hook's Pacific Loon

The regular group got together today for a visit to Sandy Hook.  A Pacific Loon has been seen for the past several days, and we were able to re-locate this bird from off the beach at B-Lot.
Here is an image taken by the finder of the bird, my buddy Jason Denesevich

credit: Jason Denesevich

Other species seen were Common, and Red-Throated Loons, Northern Gannets, Black, and Surf Scoters, Long-Tailed Ducks, Horned Grebe, and some Snow Buntings.  A Lapland Longspur was in the flock of Snow Buntgini, but I did not see the Longspur today.

Friday, November 25, 2016

November 25 - Schenk Forest

This morning I had a bit of time after the family Turkey Day Dinner so I visited the nearby Schenk Forest.  My goal was to see the Red-Headed Woodpecker.  This southern species does breed annually in a few selected spots up north where I live but they are always great to see again.
Here is a sunrise shot from North Carolina at the Schenk Forest Entrance:
click to enlarge

The target species:

A sign about Dr. Schenk

I then tied to visit the nearby Prairie View Ecological Station...but like many of the parks I tried to visit over the holiday (this one, Yates Mill County Park, and Johnson Lake Park) it was closed !!  so I headed back to Schenk Forest and made a quick stop to look at the map and get my bearings.
While parked I saw a pale-ish sparrow hopping around about 20 feet away and so I put my bins on it. To my surprise I saw this was a Clay-Colored Sparrow !    I had very nice views of this bird, and it's lores were clear, which excluded the more common Chipping Sparrow.

Overall a nice morning at Schenk Forest which included species of Brown-Headed Nuthatch, Blue-Headed Vireo, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel and others.