Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29 - Local Spots

Because I had just a half-day of free time today I decided to do some local birding.
It had been a few years since my last sighting of Glaucous Gull so once friend Dan P. had reported one on the Passaic River in the vicinity of Garfield I decided to try for it.  My first attempt was a short try back on Tuesday December 26 but I did not see it.

When the gull was reported by friend Mike W. on Saturday, I made a second attempt on Sunday at first light.  I arrived about a quarter past 7, just before sunrise, and there was enough ambient light to start looking at the group of gulls.  Fortunately the Glaucous Gull is a big all-white bird which makes it easier to find in darker conditions.  Within a few minutes I had located the Gull !

credit:  Dan Paolillo.

credit:  Mike Wolfe

When I was watching the big white Gull I then noticed a smaller white gull, it was an Iceland Gull.  The Iceland Gull took off after less than a minute and flew downstream to the Dundee Dam area.

The Glaucous stayed in sight the entire time I was there and at times came quite close.  Other species seen in my half-hour there were Bufflehead, Common Merganser, and Gulls of Ring-Billed, Herring, and Greater Black-Backed.

I could see that rain was going to come soon but I continued onto my next stop at Hatfield Swamp.
Along the walk under the power lines I saw such sparrows as Dark-Eyed Junco, American Tree, Song, Swamp, Field, and White-Throated. I heard a Towhee call a few times as well.   I came across a pair of Blackbirds, yet these were not Rusties but of the Red-winged variety.  Here woodpeckers abound and I saw numerous Downy & Red-Bellied along with many Northern Flickers, plus a few each of Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and Hairy Woodpeckers.  Surprisingly there weren't any Red-Headed Woodpeckers even though this place looks to be perfect for this species' liking...

During my walk I spotted a Barred Owl, which is the first time I have seen this species here.

I think that's it for my birding adventures in 2013.  I do hope to get out on New Year's Day and start the 2014 chases ! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26 - Northern Nassau County

Since I had the day off today, why not see some birds ?   It's certainly better than returning gifts !

I started out by going to the town of Sea Cliff, near Glen Cove, for a rare visitor in the form of a Black Guillemot.  Fortunately this was a 'drive-up' bird as we saw it immediately upon parking.  This was good news for us ans we had intended to spend a few hours waiting for the bird to show, because it's patterns over the few days since it's discovery was that it came in during the later morning.

We were lucky to get great views of the bird because it was just about 100 yards off-shore.  Also the bird was quite actively feeding at first, but then settled down where it stayed up on the water for extended periods of time.

Afterwards we went to the nearby Bayville beaches where we had nice looks at Common Goldeneye and Horned Grebes, along with several dozen White-Winged Scoters.

Our last stop was at Saint John's Pond near Cold Spring Harbor in the town of Cold Spring.  Here too we had a drive-up with a male Eurasian Wigeon.

A good way to end the year as I do not expect to get out again before I make a New Year's morning trip to Montauk Point in search of alcids & seagulls.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21 - Long Island & NYC

Today saw a visit to Long Island with the first stop being Jones Beach.  Here we saw such goodies as Lapland Longspur in the West End 6 parking lot, and a Snowy Owl along the beachfront.

On our way back west toward home we made a detour to lower Manhattan.  Here we saw the Varied Thrush which has been reported for the past few days.   We did get fine views of this bird at it's Stuyvesant Oval location.  Ironically this vagrant is not even a year bird, as we had seen another Varied Thrush in Prospect Park back in March of 2013. 

Monday, December 09, 2013

December 7 - Nutmeg State Chases

I went out with friends Andy E. and Jennifer C. today on a trip up to Connecticut to see if the Fork-Tailed Flycatcher was still around.
This bird had been discovered last Saturday November 30th at the ferry launch in Hadlyme, CT and it had been quite cooperative for literally hundreds of birders since then.  While we all had seen great views of the previous Connecticut State Record of Fork-Tailed flycatcher back in November 2010, this South-American bird is such a rarity one is obliged to see it again !

The nearby General Store was helping out any wayward travelers with this clever adaptation of their Daily Specials blackboard !

We arrived just past 8 am and were happy to see about a dozen birders already on site, including one familiar New Jerseyan in the name of Marc C.  The group quickly directed us on where to see the bird.  Fortunately the bird was quite active despite the frosty morning and it afforded fine views for long periods of time while it coughed up the undigested parts of yesterday's insect meals.  We were on a tight schedule today and could only enjoy the Flycatcher for about 45 minutes.

Here are some shots for documentation purposes only.  Many other have fantastic images of this bird.

See Tim Antinaitis's image here and see the Connecticut Audubon site for more

We then began heading back westward and made our first stop at nearby Hammonasset State Park.  "Hammo" was it's typically rewarding stop.  First up at Meigs Point Nature Center we had Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, and among them was a single Lapland Longspur.  While there a local birder Jesus T. informed us of a Snowy Owl being seen just about 150 yards away.  So after a short walk we all go to enjoy seeing this magnificent species.

I had relayed the Lapland Longspur sighting to Marc C. and while on his way to meet me, Marc was briefly distracted by three Clay-Colored Sparrows on the entrance road to the park.  So Marc politely told me about the sparrows and we went off in search of them, while he focused his attention on the Longspur search.  Indeed we all found the birds we were after !

The final stop today was in East Haven along the southern shore 's Brazos Road.  This spot has been productive over the years and today's target was a drake (male) Barrow's Goldeneye.  The raft of Goldeneye was quite distant however in between the waves & troughs we were able to pick him out at various times.

A great day in the Nutmeg State !

Sunday, December 01, 2013

November 30 - Snowy Day

I went south with Bill E today, our first stop was Brigantine NWR.  Here we got the Snowy Owl and saw it quite well, plus we saw the Owl take a short flght. Later Bill was able to find the Eurasian Wigeon, and we saw over 40 of the Tundra Swans.

We headed north and made our second stop at Barnegat Lighthouse.  Here we had another Snowy Owl and this one was very easy to get close views by using our optics.  Unfortunately others get too close.  Anyway we also had all 3 species of Scoter, and an amazing 8 King Eiders, of which a few were immature males and the rest were females.  Of course the Harlequin Ducks, Purple Sandpipers, and Ipswhich Sparrow were also great to see.

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Here is an image that shows a good comparison between King & Common Eider

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