Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Gloriouser Spring Weekend 4-20 & 21

Gosh, this sure sounds like a repeat of my last post. I didn't get to any birding on Thursday, but got stuff done at home, and made up for it on the weekend!

So the plan was to meet AvIan at Oakland Lake, a place oft neglected but of rising notoriety of late. Capt'n Bob was supposed to meet us as well but I caught him contemplating the inner surface of his eyelids. He decided to catch up to us later on.

AvIan and I walked down the north side path having Palm and Pine Warblers along the way. In the lake was a raft of ducks comprised of both Scaup. Always nice to compare them. They were being strafed by Barn and Rough-winged Swallows.

Both Scaup

In the vicinity of the first staircase, I found the obliging Redstart YB 182 in a picturesque Cherry tree. There I found the first of many Blue-grey Gannet-catchers, YB 183, the presumed reason why there were no Gannets on the lake. Also present were many Yellow-rumps of various plumages.

Further on we came to the second staircase that descends from Springfield blvd. Earic had just had the Hasidic Warbler, YB 184 and walked back with us to find it. In short order there were chip notes and movement.

Hasidic Warbler

This bird was such a pleasure. While it spent some time skulking in the tangled mess of fallen tree limbs and multiflora rose, it also vogued quite nicely, and for extended periods of time allowing most if not all who wanted a photo to get several.

Yellow Warblers YB 185 were busy chasing each other around, no doubt motivated by spring fever. This one posed nicely in a Weeping Willow

Yellow Warbler; though not afraid of us

AvIan and I got some lunch, waited for Capt'n Bob to show up, and upon his arrival reprised our tour and got all the same birds for him as well. Quite accommodating!

Afterwards we went to Alley Pond Park where joined by Earic we searched for more goodies. One of the first nice things we found was a Northern Waterthrush YB 186. Nice because so far all the reports had been of Louisiana Waterthrush. A report from Alley about a Louisiana had us thinking that the finder might have gaffed, but later on we found a LA Waterthrush, so we retracted our disparaging remarks. Well most of them anyway...

Northern Waterthrush Note lack of legs.
LA Waterthrush. Note bright pink legs.

Venturing about more, Earic heard a House Wren YB 187 sing in the distance and with a bit of spishatorial encouragement it took center stage and performed for us.

House Wren

As we walked around, up in a tree and in the shadows we found { finally, for me! } a Great Horned Owl.  YB 188. Sadly, it appears that they did not breed this year. Perhaps they do not do so every year? Or maybe all the mayhem from super-storm Sandy discouraged them. Either way it was nice to see they were still resident.

Great Horned Owl

We also walked into one of the other sections where Blue-winged Warbler had been spotted earlier that day and while looking around this beauty moved into my field of view. YB 189 What is nice about this time of year and the low amount of rain we have had thus far, is the warblers are so beautifully composed in the flora. Too often they are obscured  by the leaves.

Blue-winged Warbler, er, blocked by leaves.

We ended the day by heading to Little Neck Bay where Gannets are still around. Remarkable! Years ago I spotted some in Long Island Sound and authoritative individual told me ' that they are not found in the sound'. Hmmm.  I wonder what he would say upon seeing them in this appropriately named 'Little' neck bay!

Boat Shmoat. Thar be Gannets here.

One final check was made of the restored marsh grass by APEC which had Egrets, Greater, and Lesser Yellowlegs for YB 190. A nice way to end the day.

The next day Jean LeConte Sparrow and I tried out Forest Park, but it was dreadfully quiet. We did have some nice sparrows such as Swamp and Chipping, as well as a lone Hermit Thrush.

Chipping Sparrow

We then reprised the visit to Oakland lake for Jean. She had to work Saturday and missed all the fun. Fortunately the celebrities stuck around for her, and to the delight of many a birder and photographer.

Nice Hat!   It's made of Risotto?

On the stairs we found a birder named Justin who was photographing the bird and happens to be a sous chef. What are the chances of me now knowing two sous chefs, when for all my life I knew none? And both are birders - go figure.

Go ahead, take my picture. I dare you.

This Hasidic Warbler has to be one of the most easily photographed in memory. The Redstart cooperated too. Sort of...

I like this shot...

Some other noteworthy birds posed, such as this handsome if not dastardly Brown-headed Cowbird, and this young transitionally plumed Red-winged Blackbird. The latter particularly caught my eye as this was probably what caused somebody in PA to report a 'Redwing' on Ebird. That bird is a Thrush though and not a Blackbird, and if only... - as that would have been a potential lifer for me.

Don't hate me because I'm too lazy to raise my own kids...

It's a Blackbird, stupid
With much further ado, we discussed whether Warbler is best in a bearnaise or hollandaise sauce, before breaking away due to a phone call from Derek. He was alerting me to a Red-necked Phalarope out by Shinnecock. I looked at Jean. She said "lets go". Yay!

We did our best to get out there as quickly as possible. But traffic, a gas stop, and a bathroom / get my scope stop critically delayed us. We arrived and found Tom Moran who uttered one on the 'universal laws of birding': "You should have been here five minutes ago" Groan.

We searched and searched but could not relocate the bird. I did meet M. Hahn though, reporter of a secret male Painted Bunting whose location she could not disclose. Apparently, even at knife-point she would not tell where that bird was, much to the dismay of birders everywhere.

While searching for the RN Phalarope, all was not lost as I scored Laughing Gull YB 191, and Willet YB 192. Out in the ocean I caught sight of something most unexpected: thousands of all three Scoters moving about!  So this is where they are, they sure weren't out in Montauk all winter.

Scoters off shore by Shinnecock, and this is just one frame!

The light was also excellent and quite picturesque in that end of the day way. A Boatle and a Greater Yellowlegs gave me excellent subjects.


Is this Yellowlegsism or narcissism?

In making various stops, we came across many nice things. One unusual thing though was the following. It is flat, and missing it's head. But can you tell what it is?

We ended the day without the final target; a pervasive theme lately, but a most excellent weekend of birding without a doubt.

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