Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cave Swallow Redemption, and 'Close but no Banana' Denial

Saturday Jean, Bob and I went to Staten Island for the reported 80+ Cave Swallows. All we got was cold.

It was a harsh blustery day, and our well laid plans were the topic of amusement to small rodents. But we gave it a good try, saw Turkeys on the way, as well as witnessing the aftereffect of the trouncing that unfortunate S.I. residents took at the hands of hurricane Sandy.

Birding a bit on the way back east, we stopped in at Prospect hoping to get Jean the Evening Grosbeak. Strike two. So we went for lunch. 

After lunch, we were all too dis-enthused to continue, what with the poor weather and all, we called it a day, not venturing forth to Alley for the Virginia's as planned. Mind you Jean and I had already seen it, and were very lucky at that, but Bob was still without it.

Bob and I made plans to chase the Barnacle and Greater White-fronted Goose out in Mattituck, in the morrow and we all parted company.

The next morning I awoke and discovered that an eBird report had Cave Swallows roosting on a house in Point Lookout!! After a bit of early morning, 'the coffee has not taken effect yet' discussion, it was eventually decided that I would meet Bob at Point Lookout.

He was a wee delayed so rather that meet on Lido and drive down in one car, I drove down to take a look. On an awning facing the ocean sat three Swallows!

On arrival I told him to drive right down and meet me. When he pulled up, he was busy trying to maneuver into a parking position, but I insisted that he stop and simply look out the passenger window. Too easy. With our experience the previous day, no wonder he thought it would be more of an effort.

We also got  nice looks at Harlequin ducks and numerous Oystercatchers, and then decided to try for geese out east. There were Cackling, Barnacle and Greater White-fronted all on one small lake on the north fork.

Finding the lake was easy, and we pulled up and started to scan. Several sweeps and it was clear that the birds sought were elsewhere. After a spell, we cruised down the road and checked a few other places for lounging geese. A few here and there, but a lot of inaccessible areas. 

We headed back and scanned again. Nope. a few geese flew in, a few flew out. that's how it went for quite some time. Another exploration and when we returned met up with a couple who told us about an Eurasian Wigeon  just down the road. 

Scanning the little harbor, a 'red headed' duck came into view. Bob was excited, as he wanted Redhead for the year, and was ironically disappointed at it being the much rarer Eurasian Wigeon. Ah, the vagaries of birders...

Another stop back at Maratooka lake, and still no targets. We headed off for a lunch. On the way we saw an immense blackbird flock, and stopped in an anachronistic diner for a tasty repast.

And back to the lake. Nope yet again. Next we tried the very end of the road and the bay. Beautiful scenery, Scoters and Oldsquaw, Horned Grebe. A pit stop and a cup of coffee, and then finishing scanning, back to the lake.

No geese. There were even less geese than had come in to rest before. We gave it til 4:30, when the sun set, and then decided to check the surrounding farm fields and their flocks. 

At first we discovered a flock obscured by a berm and it appeared promising. But no luck. And so it went, as did the remaining sun light, and we headed home. 

Later that night I got a 'Don Henley' email.

I got the email today, 
I didn't wanna read 
But I knew that it would come  
An old friend of ours had posted on facebook
She said you found some birds...

It appears that shortly after Bob and I had departed, some folks who had been there earlier returned at last light to watch 1000+ Canada Geese come in to roost replete with Barnacle, Greater White-fronted, and Cackling. 


{ Bob, doh is the opposite of sweet }

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