Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30 - Central Park's Varied Thrush

My friends Andy & Jen picked me up at work early today and we took a quick ride into Central Park. Here we looked for, and ultimately found, the Varied Thrush which had first been discovered on Sunday.

We had very nice views of this bird that is a vagrant from the Pacific Northwest. The bird was seen just east of the Rambles Shed along the 79th Street Tranverse. While there I ran into Corey Finger, and his images of the thrush can be seen at his website here.

You can see some wonderful images of this bird at Lloyd Spitalnik's webpage, including the one below:

So a quick NY State bird # 317 for me, and I'm back at work without anyone missing me... :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

November 20 - Flycatcher Redux & NY specialties

With friends Andy and Jennifer, today saw a return to see the continuing Fork-Tailed Flycatcher. Today was overcast so the bird stayed down longer & was less active then on early Thursday morning. Nevertheless we had nice views & good company with all the local metro-area birders making the similar trip for this rarity.  A quote from the group that manages the Cove Island Park Natural area:
"600 people ranging in age from 2 to 97 visited from 15  

credit: Kevin Bolton
Visit Kevin's website for more photos of this bird, plus plenty more

Afterwards we went to eastern Long Island for the now long staying Common Ground-Dove. This bird is a first for New York State.
credit: Corey Finger
Visit Corey's website for more photos & some background info on this bird

Lastly we stopped at Jones Beach where I had a late Laughing Gull, Snow Buntings, and the juvenile Loggerhead Shrike. See Phil Jeffrey's web page for images of the Loggerhead Shrike headlong into the breeze.

The Dove and Shrike boosted my NY State life list to 316.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 18 - Connecticut's Fork-Tailed Flycatcher

Minutes away from arriving at work today I received an e-mail stating that the Fork-Tailed Flycatcher discovered in Stamford, CT yesterday had been re-found...so I kept on driving and headed north on I-95. The commuting traffic was tough but I was there within 75 minutes and the bird was still being seen.
At first it was across a large field, but later it came withing 40 feet of us affording great close views of this extreme vagrant.  ABA-area bird # 611 for my list

click on images to enlarge

November 13 - San Diego Pelagic & Coronado Islands

The primary purpose of my trip was to enjoy the pelagic offered by Socalbirding.com. Although I had already seen the Black-Vented Shearwater, Northern Fulmar, and Red Phalarope from shore at Point La Jolla I was still after some life birds today.

While still inside US waters, I was able to see my ABA-life bird of Rhinoceros Auklet:

credit: Patty Bruno

Also I was able to get several views at the Pomarine Jaeger:

credit: public domain

This Glaucous-Winged Gull circled the boat for seemingly hours. Apparently when it got either too tired, or finally smart enough, the bird decided to hitch a ride on the bow!

November 12 - Salton Sea's Bean Goose

 Since it was such a rare bird (first ever in California, and perhaps 4th ever in the Lower 48 States) I took the 2-hour ride out to Salton Sea. I was rewarded with seeing the bird.

credit: Unknown

Visit Vic Murayama's website to enjoy his excellent images
Click on images to enlarge

Also seen at the Sea, were Mew Gull, Yellow-Footed Gull, Burrowing Owl, Sandhill Cranes, Ross' Geese, Stilt Sandpiper and Long-Billed Curlews.

On the way back I stopped in Jamul and saw the dark-morph Ferruginous Hawk.
Dead Sexy !

November 11 - La Jolla Point seawatch

Birding from here again, with Stan W and Paul L, I was able to view lifebirds of Red Phalarope and Northern Fulmar.

 Credit: Terry Fountain

 Credit: USF&W public domain

Also seen were more Black-Vented Shearwaters, Common Murre, Black & White-Winged Scoters along with the expected Surf Scoters.

November 10 - Tijuana River Slough and more

With the information from local birder of Matt S., this morning I visited the Tijuana Slough area looking for the Pacific Golden Plover. After a short search I found the bird close to where I was told it would be.


November 9 - La Jolla Point Seawatch & Rare Gull chase

This morning I made my first stop at Point La Jolla. Here I met pseudo-resident Stan W. and former New Jerseyan (among others) Paul L.

Here we had a decent flight of seabirds including Common Murre, Elegant Tern, and Black-Vented Shearwaters, and Pacific & Red-Throated Loons among others. Also had a Black Scoter, which is uncommon on the west coast.
credit: Avesphoto

Later I headed north about 90 minutes toward Long Beach for the vagrant Black-Tailed Gull being seen there. I did not see the gull, no one did after 8:30 am, but I did meet several local SD birders and found that quite a few of them will be on the pelagic this coming Saturday. So at the least, the boat trip will have a few new friends * hopefully some new birds for me too!

November 8 - Wet again, but got my targets

A few years back there was a Golden-Crowned Sparrow found in New Jersey's Monmouth County and my friend Rob F. and I had tried for it, waiting over 90 minutes in a heavy steady rain without any luck. Making my second attempt for this bird in the normally "sunny" San Diego,  I guess it was appropriate that it was drizzling this morning too. I had come to Black Mountain at the suggestion of local birder Kevin Pickard. He frequents this spot and had recently seen the sparrows.
I walked up the hillside and birded in the rain for an hour seeing lots of birds but not my desired sparrow. When the rain started to lighten I was out of time and decided to come back again later this week, hopefully with Kevin, and also the sun !
As I got to my car I shook off the rain jacket and saw the sparrows across the street from where I had parked. If only I had stayed dry in the car !  Nevertheless I was able to get great views of these sparrows, even having time to setup my scope for amazing closeups.
 credit: unknown

Next up I made my way to San Elijo Lagoon. Here my target was California Gnatcatcher. Local Jan N. had suggested the site and it paid off nicely. I saw two or three of the Gnatcathers quickly and even pretty close at some points. Fortunately it was dry by this time and I got to enjoy these birds and several other species while I was here.
Credit: Peter Knapp

 Thanks goes out to the local birders who helped me get two life-birds today!

November 7 - Borrego Springs, CA

Wow, sometimes folks are just so damn helpful that it can surprise you. Such is the case with one Bob Miller of Southwest Birders. Just a few days before my trip out West, and by complete chance, I came across his recent posting on Inland County Birds about a Le Conte's Thrasher sighting. Even though it would mean a 2-hour drive from San Diego for a chance on this bird, I wrote to Bob for some more info. He was incredibly helpful and gave me specifics on where, when & how to spot the thrasher. Additionally he gave me spot-on information about another target of mine the Saltbush Sage Sparrow.

The only trouble I had was due to the change from Daylight Time back to Standard Time. I was told that my hotel clock would automatically "fall back" at 2 am. Of course it did not, so the alarm went off at 2:30 instead of my desired 3:30 !   So, I went back to bed for an hour, getting up at the "real" 3:30.
Then, the Hotel's Wake-up call also got messed up with the time change. Their call came thru right on cue -- at 4:30 am !    Needless to say, my wife wasn't too thrilled about being woken up at 2:30, 3:30, and 4:30 on the first night of vacation...But really, she was actually ok with it all later on.
I left at 4:00 driving over the mountains & into the desert. It was a great drive, especially Banner Grade. Anyone who loves driving would enjoy this road!  I got to the Thrasher spot just before official sunrise, but the desert was already light. Within 15-minutes or so employing Bob's technique of covering as much ground as possible I was able to see the Le Conte's. Later I saw another too. I was also able to briefly see one Sage Sparrow here.
credit:Peter Ericsson @ surfbirds.com

I then stopped at the recommended nearby spot for the Sage Sparrow and this spot delivered too. I saw a handful of the sparrows here, giving me nice long looks at the bird.

Thank you, Mr. Miller !

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

October 31 - Cape May fallout

The continuing 'fall flight of the decade' continued today with some fantastic results. The highlight must be the Henlow's Sparrow, which is quite unusual in New Jersey, and the first chaseable one at Cape May in twenty years!

click image to enlarge.

Other sparrows seen were Grasshopper, Song, Swamp, Savannah, White-Throated, White-Crowned, Field, Chipping, Lincoln's, and Junco.

Other top species seen today were Cave Swallow, Golden Eagle, and year-birds of Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen & Redhead. A female Eurasian Wigeon was seen, along with Blue-Winged & Green-Winged Teal, Pintail , Shoveler, Black, Mallard and Ring-Necked.  Scoters of White-Winged & Black were seen.

Raptors included Sharp-Shinned, Coopers, Red-Tailed, Red-Shouldered, Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine, Bald Eagle, but I missed a Norther Goshawk reported elsewhere on the Cape today.

You can never get to them all !

October 30 - Overpeck Park

This morning I made a brief stop at Overpeck Park by Challenger Road and had a group of 80 American Pipits

credit: Terry Sohl

Later I was joined by Bill E  & Kevin W, and we birded behind the stables. There were a handful of Rusty Blackbirds, some Purple Finch, the resident Monk Parakeets, plus sparrows of Song, Swamp, Savannah, Chipping, White-Throated, White-Crowned, Field, Lincoln's, a few Vesper, and my first Fox Sparrow of the season.