Friday, January 27, 2012

If it's Thursday, I Must be Birding

Thursday is a good day to take care of errands, but it's a better day to bird. Today my quest was to try to relocate an Audubon’s flavored Yellow-rumped Warbler. It had been reported for a few weeks in Sunken Meadow STPK, and it was about time I saw it too.

This bird was not a lifer, and not even a state bird. But it was a county bird and a previously un-experienced plumage. I have seen adults out west, and a few years ago a nice winter adult was in Tobay Beach in Nassau county. This bird was by far a much more subtle ID and my hat goes off to Shai Mitra for picking out this immature female.

There are plantings mixed with Cedars that flank the north,south and east sides of the eastern most lot. Word had it that the bird had been favoring the snow-fenced clump of plants at the east end of the lot. I started there, and walked south until I came across a mixed flock of Song and White-throated Sparrows feeding on the lawn. Picking through them, I also spied a few Black-capped Chickadees working the cedars. Good!

The birds were slowly working their way west, and I followed along. It was nice to be standing still amongst them, and they started to feed all around me, as they began to accept my presence. I had begun to think I was not going to find my target, when I spied a smaller bird with white in the tail fly into one of the cedars. It was a Myrtle, and shortly I go a look at another Yellow-rumped, but this time I was presented with an altogether different looking bird.

The bird in question was not what I was expecting, based upon the bird I had seen back in 2009. There was no bright yellow throat. There was also no supercilium, and there was small yellow patches on either side of the throat. Hmmm.

I lost track of the birds as they flew off undetected. I decided to make a few rounds to see what else I could find. A nice variety of stuff was about, and the sound was quite calm and flat. Made for nice views of the Horned Grebes and Common Loons. A few Oldsquaw also put in an appearance.

When I got to the creek, I was surprised to see over 6 great Egrets. Runners were all about on the trails and their stomping by put the birds up so I lost count, but they and a whole mess of Mergansers were chowing down on an ample supply of fish.

I would have to say the best part was that this creek had on it all three mergansers, and at he same time! I like getting all three in one day, but all three on the same creek in the same view? Nice! I am more accustomed to the Common Mergs being on big rivers, but here I was watching them at close range chasing their quarry up against the phragmites at the waters edge and really chowing down!

Another birder showed up, and we chatted a bit as we relocated the Chickadee flock in the eastern patch of Cedars. Again the Audubon's made an appearance, and this time with the light at a different angle we saw a bird that looked just like the immature female as illustrated in National Geographic.

Satisfied, I birded my way out, and stopped to check the large flocks of Robins. I picked two Cedar Waxwings out of te bunch, but alas, no Bohemians... yet? 

I then headed west to Queens in hope of relocating the Pink-footed Goose seen in Alley Pond Park.  I started at the south end of the restoration area, trying to locate Snipe but dipped. There were no geese on the lake either. But shortly, and as if on cue, Eric Miller unexpectedly showed up and we walked the paths to see what we could turn up. Scaup, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, and Green-winged Teal were on the pond, but land birds were scarce. Finally, on the sloping lawn on our way out we had the western Palm Warbler, and a Rublet. But no Orange-crowned. perhaps it's the weather, or perhaps Eric is losing his touch? The Orange-crowned Warblers usually swarm about him like worker bees around their queen.

Being in such close proximity to Fairway, it seemed implausible that I would not peruse their beer selection. What better way to cap off the day than with a Young's Chocolate Stout? Withe my provisions in hand, I made a pass by Kissena park, but there were no geese to be found there either.

With the light fading and the rain falling harder, made my way home ever so slowly, caught in traffic that did not relent until I was practically all the way. Fortunately my liquid consolation made the memories fade into my delectation.

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