Sunday, February 17, 2008

February 17 - Long Island birding

Today I went to several places on Long Island. At Massapequa Lake my friend Andy located the Eurasian Wigeon that had been reported here. It was tough to find in all the reeds, but eventually the bird moved out and we got some nice views of it.
credit: Bill Hublick

Later at Point Lookout, Andy once again had the quick eyes, and found a Red-Necked Grebe in the ocean.
credit: Steve Gantlett

Saturday, February 09, 2008

February 9 - Tufted Duck and more Crossbills

Today I went on a long-distance trip to see an Old World species of duck that rarely visits Eastern North America. Known as the Tufted Duck this species appears similar to the common Ring-Necked Duck or Lesser Scaup species. Other than the tuft, the difference are the whiter flanks and slimmer neck, and a rounded head with a wider plainer bill.

Range Map for this species:

Once previously I have seen this species, and that was back in January 2002 in Rumson, NJ.
Knowing that it could be many more years until this bird is within driving distance, I took the drive up to East Providence, Rhode Island.

It was quite easy to find the spot where this bird, along with numerous Ring-Necked Ducks, were enjoying the fresh-water mussels within the James V. Turner Reservoir.

After 30 minutes or so of watching this bird, I headed back west toward home. Living on borrowed time, I made a brief stop at Connecticut's Hammonasset State Park.
Here I was able to see another rare visitor, this time from the Western US, in the Orange-Crowned Warbler .

Unfortunately, the rain started coming in so I had to cut this visit short. Before finally heading home, I had my lunch while watching the Red Crossbills, from incredibly close range --and for likely the last time this winter season.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

February 3 - Montauk Point and Dune Road

What a banner day today was. A friend and I came out to Montauk Point and were rewarded for the long drive with fantastic weather, calm ocean, and fine views of seabirds.
Among the tens of thousands of birds here are the most White-Winged Scoters that anyone in the metro area can see. The other scoters of Black and Surf were also well represented. We were able to get nice looks at over a dozen Razorbills.

We were not able to positively locate any other alcids, however we did enjoy close views of the thousand or so Common Eider, in all variations of age and plumage. On the drive west from Montauk Point we stopped at Edgemere Ave and scanned the ocean once again. This time my friend spotted a beautifully-plumaged full adult male King Eider !

I have been hoping to see the drake King Eider for many years now, and finally seeing this bird brought a huge smile to my face. While scoping the one bird, I spotted yet another full adult male King Eider mixed in with the females, and both sexes of the Common Eider.
We watched these birds at fairly close range for about 30 minutes, enjoying the bird feeding and preening, opening it's unusual bill, and doing some courtship rituals.

A truly spectacular sighting today.

Before leaving the Montauk area we stopped at Hither Hills park and found the Pink-Footed Goose, as well as, the Barnacle Goose. We also saw Brant, Canada Goose and Snow Goose.

Later along Dune Road, near the Ponqougue Bridge we located the Snowy Owl that has been present here for a couple of weeks.

Also seen were a pair of American Bitterns, Boat-Tailed Grackles, Long-Tailed Ducks and Red-Breasted Mergansers.

One last view of the scene typical of Montauk in winter:

click on all images to enlarge