Saturday, June 11, 2016

June 11 - Garganey

A mega-rarity of Garganey was reported from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State this past Sunday afternoon.  Unfortunately for me it was a very busy week at work so I could not try until today, Saturday June 11.
My regular group of friends were not available so I was unsure if I would even try for this bird.  I awoke around 4 a.m to find I did not have the desire for the 4+ hour drive up to the Montezuma NWR in Seneca Falls, NY.  I guess it was on my mind as I woke again about 45 minutes later with the will to take the trip !  I left home at 5 a.m and started on my drive west into Pennsylvania and then north into Central New York.  Fortunately 3/4 of the drive was on Interstates so the ride was relatively easy.  More good news was received when a birder posted online that the bird had been seen around 8:00.
I arrived on site at the Knox-Marsellus Marsh just past 9 a.m, and went to East Road. After parking,   a nice birder about to depart was able to immediately get me on the Garganey !
This is my 644th ABA-area species.
Click to enlarge
Credit: Jay McGowan (finder of the bird)

The bird was moving amongst the small brush at the edge of the marsh, with mostly it's head and neck in view for almost 30-minutes.  The bird the disappeared for bit and I took a short ride to the Knox-Marsellus Overlook.  Here is saw some lovely Black Terns, a pair of Caspian Terns, and a Trumpeter Swan.  I had previously only seen the Trumpeter Swan in New Jersey, so this was a bonus NY State Bird for me. In addition to the Life Bird of Garganey, my NY State List is now at 365.

Here is some pics of the Marsh

After returning from the overlook, I joined other newly arriving birders in the search to re-locate the Garaney.  I then spotted the bird swimming in open water, which gave me a complete view of the bird.  We enjoyed this view for about 5 minutes before the bird once again went into the marsh vegetation.

The next day I read that the bird was not spotted until after 2 pm on Sunday, so I was lucky that I went on Saturday and saw the bird as soon as I arrived.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

May 1 - Fork-Tailed Flycatcher in NJ !

A rainy day here in northern NJ meant very few birds at Garret Mountain, however just as I was leaving at 8 a.m. I received a note that yesterday afternoon's rarity was being seen again this morning !

The Fork-Tailed Flycatcher which had been found late on Saturday afternoon at the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area.  This WMA is located near Millstone, NJ in the southwestern part of Monmouth County.

I arrived at the stakeout spot just past 9 a.m, and met fellow birder Simon Lane.  We walked into the large field and immediately Simon was on the bird !  Initially we were both put off for just a moment as the bird was showing it's yellow crown-stripe in a manner I had never seen before. Perhaps it had something to do with the rain ?

Nevertheless we were not far form the bird and binoculars were all that was needed to get nice views of this beauty from Central America.

Here's some shots by friend Larry Scacchetti which were taken yesterday before the rain came in.
Click to enlarge:

I had last seen this species back in 2013, and prior to that back in 2010.  Oddly both of those records are from Connecticut, so this sighting becomes my 380th bird seen within New Jersey !

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 20 - Bridgeport

With few rarities around, and reading that the bird was still present this morning, I took a ride to Bridgeport.  The park is named Seaside Park, and its quite a beauty.  For several miles the roadway parallels the beach and has a lane for parking.  So its quite convenient for birders!

The Ross' Goose was present as I drove up, and I had great views from the car.  I then drove around a bit looking at other species.  One of the favorites for me was a Horned Grebe is glorious breeding plumage.

Here is an image of the Ross' Goose

More can be seen here.

On my way back home I stopped at Sherwood Island Park, but there wasn't anything special to see here, so I continued on my way.  Before crossing the Hudson River,  I made a brief stop at Westchester's Croton Point Park.  Here I had fine views of the nesting Great Horned-Owl, and then the long-staying (since December) Lark Sparrow.

Credit friend John Haas

Sunday, March 13, 2016

March 13 - Farther than planned

Today the regular group headed south down to Edwin B. Forsythe a/k/a Brigantine to look for some early returning migrants.   When we arrived the gate was closed ! ....and many a birder besides us were also taken by surprise.  I see the Refuge opened later, perhaps the Gate Timer was already set for the Time Change later tonight ?
Nevertheless we walked around a bit enjoying the birds outside the refuge and got our first of season Eastern Phoebe, and my earliest ever thanks again, El Nino !   We also had our first Tree Swallows of 2016.

Just a few miles away we stopped in Absecon for the pair of over-wintering American Avocets, and these were easy to find.
Credit: Larry Scachetti

We then continued on another hour south to Cape May.  Here we started at the State Park/Lighthouse and here we saw the Eurasian Wigeon among other species like Mallard, Black Duck, Gadwall, Pintail, Coot, American Wigeon, Canvasback, etc.  On the beach we saw American Oystercatchers, and Black-Bellied Plovers. A stop at the Beanery yielded several Rusty Blackbirds.   At the South Cape May Meadows we spotted the Blue-winged Teal.

Our final stop was up at the Miami Avenue spot in the Villas.  Here we saw Forster's Terns, Laughing Gulls and my friend Bill E, a Scot, lent his experience in finding the Black-Headed Gull.

Every day will now have new migrants coming in !!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 28 - Bullock's Oriole

This morning the regular group took the drive about 1 hour north to Ulster County, NY for the rare Oriole which has been seen in the town of Milton.   The homeowner, Dave B, was kind enough to share the news of the rarity that has been visiting his backyard feeder.
We saw the bird upon arriving, however it was at the small pond to the south of the home.

Here's John Haas' photo form earlier this week.

We enjoyed fine looks at the bird and other friends, like Arie Gilbert, also arrived to see the bird.
This is species # 363 that I have seen in New York State Bird !!

Then we made a brief stop at Bates Lane,  which bisects Blue Chip Farms.  Here we saw 500 plus Canada Geese, along with 3-4 of the Cackling Geese, and finally Bill E spotted a Greater White-Fronted Goose.

Afterward we visited the nearby Shawangunk Grasslands where we saw a few of the Rough-Legged Hawks, a bird that has been scarce in this atypically warm winter.  We saw about a dozen harriers, and a few other common birds.

Working our way back toward home we stopped at Oil City Road.  Here we saw thousands of Canada Geese in flight, and then a few hundred Snow Geese - with about 6 of the Blue Morph too.

At nearby Skinner's Lane we saw a lovely Western Red-Tailed Hawk with it's spectacular dark plumage.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 23 - Harris' Sparrow

After the long chase on Sunday for the Thick-Billed Murre I was just too tired to get out yesterday.  So this morning I took a drive before work to try for the Harris' Sparrow down in Titusville, NJ.

I arrived at 7:30 and within just a few minutes the bird made its first appearance in the shrub next to the homeowner's porch.  The Harris' would try to get underneath the array of feeders but always seemed to squabble with other species there, like the White-Throated Sparrows, and quickly get chased off.

I stayed in the car as the mixed flock was very skittish. This technique seemed to pay off as the Harris' made several attempts at the feeders, and also had many appearances under that shrub by the porch.

This is bird # 378 seen within the State of New Jersey !

Here is an image of the bird, credit to Fred Pfeiffer:

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 21 - Montauk Point

The group took the long trip out to the easternmost point of Long Island today so we could search for a rarity a Montauk Point.  We arrived at Lake Montauk, technically not a lake but rather an inlet, and headed for the eastern jetty.   I scanned just outside of the jetty and immediately located the rarity of the Thick-Billed Murre.  This bird was a lifer for Jennifer !
I had seen this species very briefly last February while up in Gloucester, Massachusetts when the bird was mostly diving but I was able to get 3-4 glimpses of it.  Today's views much far superior as this bird stayed above the water almost the entire time.  Here's a pic taken by Bill E.
click to enlarge.

We then walked out onto the jetty itself and were able to see the bird from a distance of 40-50 yard away.  Through my scope I could make out the indentation of the eye-line that will appear once the bird reaches full breeding plumage.  At one point the bird opened its mouth wide to reveal the remarkable yellow inside of it's bill.

Here's the only image I could find of this, and thanks goes to Angus !
credit: Angus

Later at Camp Hero, Jennifer was able to locate a drake King Eider.  Undoubtedly one of my favorite ducks because of it's scarcity in this region and it's lovely colors.  Here's an image showing the species:

We saw both Loons, Oldsquaw, Red-Breasted Megransers, Razorbills, Bonparte's Gulls, Herring Gulls, Greater Black-Backed Gulls, Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, White-Winged Scoter, Common Eider, Great Cormorant, Black Duck etc.

On a peculiar note, when we arrived at Montauk Point's Camp Hero later in the morning, we came upon this sight...which I conclude was an up-and-coming band producing a video of their performance, using the Long Island coast as their background:

Another reason to include this image is its background.  Here you can get an idea of the number of birds...all of those black dots on the to enlarge !