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 !

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 13 - Northern New Jersey and Black Dirt Region

Today I made a stop at the Sussex Landfill in search of Gulls.  I was only able to find the Iceland Gull this year and could not locate any Glaucous Gulls.

I then took a drive through the Black Dirt Region of Orange County, New York and found very few birds here today.  Some Horned Larks, and a Rough-Legged Hawk were the only noteworthy species that I could see today.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

February 7 - New York's 'Southern Shore'

Coastal birding was on the agenda again today, this time in New York State along the southern shore of Long Island.  We began at Point Lookout and Jones Beach inlet.  The best birds were some Razorbills, White-Winged Scoters, a flyby female Harlequin Duck, Purple Sandpipers on the Jetty.

Later we visited Jones Beach State Park's West End, where we saw the over-wintering Lark Sparrow.
From the Coast Guard Station we had some Common Eider, Ruddy Turnstone, both Loons, and some Black-Bellied Plovers.

From Oak Beach we had Boat-Tailed Grackles, and some Common Goldeneye on the bay.

Finally we stopped ad Capri Lake in West Islip and had several duck species.  The beautiful redhead is plentiful here, we found one Canvasback, one Shoveler, a Pied-Billed Grebe, and both species of Scaup with the Lesser species being predominant.

Overall a fair day of birding, spent with good friends !