Wednesday, January 01, 2014

January 1 - Eastern Long Island

This first day of 2014 brings a trip out to the easternmost point that one can drive to in greater New York.  With friends Andy, Jen, & Bill we began the New Year with a sunrise view from Montauk Point.

Unless one were to be there its difficult to explain how over 100 people are doing the same thing, so here's a photo of the parking lot a few minutes before 7:00 am.

Here's the same view 90 minutes later !

On to the expected the water was filled with sea ducks flying all about.  Most numerous are the Scoters and we saw all three species of Black, Surf, and White-Winged quite well.  There were dozens of Razorbills and a single flyby Dovekie !
Other species seen here are many Common Eider (unfortunately we did not see any King Eider), Red-Breasted Mergansers, and several Gull species of Bonaparte's, Ring-Billed, Herring, and Greater Black-Backed.  Several other species of sea ducks were represented in smaller numbers.

After visiting a few other spots in the Montauk area we headed back west to the Shinnecock Inlet.
Here we had wonderful views of Glaucous Gull, and a confiding Iceland Gull which eventually ended up in the parking area.

click to enlarge

credit: Bill Elrick

Finally, once much closer to home, we stopped at Cedar Beach.  Here we were able to see the Gyrfalcon (perhaps the returning bird from last winter?).  This time the bird was perched in a Cedar Tree. After a short bit the Gyrfalcon was harassed by it's smaller, yet no-less fearless, cousin named the Peregrine Falcon.  After strafing the Gyr a few times the 'Grine got its target bird to flush. We then watched a fantastic showing of the two birds interacting in flight for quite some time as the much larger & more powerful Gyr easily avoided the annoying attempts of the attacker.  Soon after the Gyrfalcon flew too far and low into the march for us to see it any longer.
This was a great end to a very good day as it's quite rare to see these two birds together outside of their Arctic homes.