Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Morning Birding

Birding is a great way to teach logical thinking. Of the many birders who go see a given bird, only a small percentage, perhaps 1-3% { my unscientific estimate} actually bother to post either a positive or negative report. After a while, most everyone who wants to see the bird has pretty much seen it, so even if it is being seen the probability of it being reported drops precipitously. What is worse, is that fewer people go to see birds that are no longer reported, and it spirals on downward. However, that does not mean the bird is not there, ALL it means is that there have been no reports. Not that the bird is gone.

Suspecting the difficulty in finding the Northern Shrike played a part in its lack of reports, I used my morning to try and find it. I drove around the runways that allow access by car, hoping that by covering more area my probability of locating it would be increased. It was not. But I did happen by a flock of Pipets and they landed close by allowing a great look, if not a long enough one for me to get the camera on them.

I eventually ended up at the waters edge, and decided to look for another sought after species; Red-necked Grebe. Several visits here and one by boat and I have not been able to find one, and there was a report of several! Well I guess there has to be some challenge or this pastime would be too easy and not give any feeling of accomplishment.

I set up my scope and began to scan the water. Lots of Bufflehead and Red-breasted mergs, and a handful of Horned Grebe. And then something different. It was well out there, but the wind and heat lines were not too bad. It dove and resurfaced, and I was able to keep relocating it. And then it joined two Common Goldeneye, and I had a nice side by side to allay any ID doubts. Yes, I had found a Barrows Goldeneye!

When I had satisfied myself that all the Red-necked Grebes were adept a diving well ahead of my scope’s view, I made my way to the north west part of the park { called the north 40 } and decided it was such an exceptionally gorgeous day { I think it hit 60 degrees? } that I would walk the runway to the end and back. Who knows, I could get lucky.

Luck counts! Though it was otherwise quiet for the most part, I kept looking at the treetops for a likely suspect. And just like I have always found them before, a Northern Shrike was perched prominently. It flew a short distance, and I tried to approach it closer for a few shots. It was located in perfectly bad lighting. Oh well, a few ‘documentary’ shots were fired off, and then it was harassed by a Mockingbird. I would have loved to get the two of them in the frame but they both moved on.

Northern Shrike

Time to move on, I walked back to my car. On the way I heard a call note and found a Tree Sparrow. At the end of the runway, I watched a female Kestrel hover and dive for prey.

I stopped at Jamaica Bay, where I learned from another birder that the two Eurasian ducks I was after were not seen, so I went to the west pond instead. Had a nice assortment of ducks, as well as lots of Snow Geese, and my FOS Canvasback and Shoveler.

A last stop before running into work, I went to w 10th avenue to try for the Eared Grebe again. No luck. I posted my findings to the lists, and got a call from Andrew Baksh who was able to head out and get the Barrows for himself. What a good day.


Queensgirl said...

Good Tuesday morning birding! Now, next week your mission is to find some good birds in Queens. I personally would like to see a Clark's Grebe.

Arie said...

If a Clark's Grebe could be discovered in Queens, I sure would like to find it! I would relish that as my 'signature bird'