Friday, February 1, 2013

If Its Thursday I Must Be Birding #9

First, an addendum to my last post. It should have been clear to me by now that geese typically roost on bodies of water, and depart sometime in the morning to feed. They will generally return before dark { though they have been known to fly in after dark } to the same body of water. This means one has two chances to find a desired bird: before it leaves or after it returns. That sounds pathetically obvious, but simply means one has a far less good chance of finding wintering geese on their roost ponds from late in the morning until much later in the day.

So after conferring with Earic and Capt'n Bob, a plan was made to meet in Nassau county and go for some specialties in the Glen Cove area. The weather reports were atrocious, but I guess "being a birder means never having to trust a weather report" I left dark and early and in the rain. The temperature was in the 50's. 

I decided to take the direct route and avoid the highway traffic on the south shore, and used the gps to guide me to the LIE. My neighbor saw me ahead of him and being amused felt compelled to call me and let me know he was two cars behind me. Of course his call came when a nav instruction was needed, and so I took the wrong turn. Groan.

It made little difference as the highway was sluggish from volume and rain anyway. By the time I arrived, the rain had stopped though, Yay! It was remarkably warm, though the wind was relentless. Earic guided us to a few places he had been recently, but we could not scare up any birds. The wind was definitely keeping them down. He did manage to hear a Rublet, and even spished it out a bit. However, all me and Bob saw was a tiny green-grey bird hop 2 feet from one clump to another and dive in never to resurface. I have no doubt of Earic's ID, but I cannot count it, and it would have been a year bird. Doh!

We then went to Dosoris Pond, looking for an Eurasian Wigeon. We didn't find it but we got nice looks at Greater Scaup for Earic. I suggested we stop adjacent to the bridge but Bob blew past it and Earic suggested we head on to Matinicock Point. 

We stopped at the last beach access, and Bob waited in the car while Earic and I walked down the beach. Earic had doubts about the bird, but I hypothesized that it should be right at the point taking shelter from the wind. I made a brief scan with my scope and got on our target immediately. My new 30X- wide angle eyepiece is nice and helped me find the bird right away, but I am still getting used to it a bit as I was so accustomed to my old eyepiece.

I told Earic I had the bird, let him look through my scope, then ran back to trade places with Bob so that we could get him on the bird and have the car manned in case we were asked to move it. YB 1 du jour, 143 de l'annee.

We headed back to the pond, and pulled into the small lot by the bridge. Earic immediately picked out the Eurasian Wigeon, and totally blew past the good bird  right next to it. I called out Lesser Black-backed Gull, and we all got nice looks. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull & Eurasian Wigeon
Not to be outdone, Earic got us onto a Cooper's Hawk that deigned to land in a tree across from us, affording good looks. It had a bit of an eye-line which threw me a bit, but Earic pointed out that the breast coloration only extended half way down, indicating a young bird and not a Goshawk. 

Cooper's Hawk
At this point I got a call from Gary Straus, but with the excitement of the Coop landing in the tree and the bad connection, I told him I would call him back. Next thing I knew, there he was beside us, having been right down the road!

We showed him the birds here, then went back to the point to get him on the Eider. Then we all took off for Caumsett STPK where a Screech was staked out. We searched all the likely holes and alternatives but he was not in attendance. this too was probably due to the high winds. 

After a bird-less exploration of the grounds, we went to Jones Beach.  The wind was even fiercer, and taking shelter behind the concession at the w/e Coast Guard lot, we scanned for a Red-necked Grebe that Earic had also had the day before. No dice. We then went to Field 2 to try to find the Goshawk but the wind was blowing the sand so much that none of us wanted to be pelted nor have the paint removed from the car. We went to filed 6 instead where Gary had had some Bonies.

One lone Bonaparte's Gull was bathing in a rain pool by the time we got there, but it was not shy. With the birding getting more disappointing, and the wind getting stronger, we continued to Point Lookout.

Bonaparte's Gull
Okay, so I did score a King  Eider today, but the Harlies had been reported down in Long Beach, but more recently back at their usual jetty. we drove down Mineola Avenue and stopped half way down to look into the inlet. A confiding Black Scoter was taking shelter in a lee, as were two Common Eider. A flock of Bonaparte's Gulls were present too, encouraging as they used to number in the tens of thousands. I scanned the group but could not find a Black-headed nor Little Gull as much as I wanted too. 

Black Scoter Stretching

Black Scoter resting

f. Common Eiders
Next we drove to the end, where Bob waited in the car while I ventured into the sand storm. I got maybe 1/3 of the way out and had to turn back. The wind was fierce, and armed with sand particles it was even less fun!  

I went behind the dunes that are at the top of the beach, and a few blocks down peered over them to get a look. Out in the surf adjacent to the jetty were the Harlequin Ducks!  After missing them so many times I was happy they returned to their regular haunt, especially since I had for so long considered them 'reliable'. 
YB 2 du jour, 144 de l'annee.

I made my way back to the car, and then instructed Bob to drive down a few blocks instead of braving the sand storm to get a view. 

Bob and I stopped for a tasty lunch at a local establishment, and welcome shelter from the wind. Afterwards, we parted company, and I took the long way home along Ocean pkwy. I scanned from the Coast Guard lot again in vain, still no RN Grebe, and a stop into Teddy Roosevelt at field 1 had me finding a lone Black-bellied Plover out on the dunes.  Two out of five targets. Not bad...

A Nice View
Black-bellied Plover up close 

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