Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19 - Owling in New York

I took advantage of a nice Sunday afternoon to head north up to the NJ-NY Stateline.  I went to the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge at Liberty Marsh.  Here I stopped at the overlook platform along Oil City Road.
As I hoped for, just before dark the Short-Eared Owls began putting on a show. There were 4-5 owls and they were quite active.  The first one I saw had a rodent in it's talons and was flying off somewhere to eat it.
The others were hunting and interacting with the Northern Harriers.  Several times the Owls came very close, and often perched in the trees a short-distance away. the binoculars, and the scope provided great views of the owls and also a dark-morph of the Rough-Legged Hawk.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 11 - Nassau County birding

With snow and sleet predicted for Sunday, the regular group of 4 got together on this Saturday.  With there not being reports of many goodies being around we decided to find our own good birds.

We found the Lido Beach parking lot closed due to the snowfall from Thursday so began at Point Lookout and scanned the ocean.  There wasn't a tremendous amount of activity on the ocean although Scoters and Gannet could be seen well offshore.  Turning our attention to the Jones Beach Inlet we immediately had Razorbills leaving the bay and heading out from the incoming tide.  A Great Cormorant was on a triangle-shaped channel marker, and a single female Common Eider was seen.
We then had fine views of a handful of Harlequin Ducks at very close range, several Horned Grebes, and a flyby Bonaparte's Gull.  I could not locate any Purple Sandpipers, but Jennifer did find us a few Ruddy Turnstones.

We then went to Jones Beach with the first stop being the Coast Guard Station.  Here we had close Razorbill, Black Scoter, RB Mergs, and other commoners.  We then hiked the median of West End 2 and found numerous Red-Breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-Rumps, Juncos, etc  At the Swale we had groups of Horned Lark, Snow Bunting and a nice count of 10 Lapland Longspurs.

Heading back west toward New Jersey we stopped at Camman's Pond.  Here we saw the Black-Headed Gull as soon as we arrived.  Departing the car to take a close look the bird took off toward the ocean.

Finally we stopped at Hendrickson Park and easily located the Pink-Footed Goose that's been here since November, and also the Red-Headed Woodpecker.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

February 5 - Black-Backed Oriole

Today we went to the Keystone State to try for a potential first record for the US in the form of a Black-Backed Oriole.  The bird is visiting a feeder that is about 2 hours from my home in the town of Sinking Spring.  We arrived about 7:45 and saw the crowd in the driveway across the street from the feeders that the bird is frequenting.

We saw bird straight away.  There were some periods where it was in the center of the arborvitae, but often it was out on the platform feeder giving the assembled crowd very nice views.
credit: Franklin Haas

Afterward we stoped at Brenneman's Quarry where we saw a dozen Greater White-fronted Geese, which is the most that I have ever seen at one time.  Also seen were Redheads, Cackling Geese, Wigeons, Pied-Billed Grebes, Northern Shovelers, Ring-necked Ducks, and a Lesser Scaup.

The final stop today was at Owl Creek Reservoir.  Here we initially saw the flock of Red Crossbills flying overhead but it took us another 90-minutes to locate the flock in the trees.   We had some nice, but backlit, views of this species that I had not seen since New Year's Day 2013.

credit: J Mcclure