Sunday, January 26, 2014

Back In The Saddle Again For 2014

Birding got derailed in the midst of last year when I had to relocate my office. Getting everything settled took a bit longer, and blogging was lowest on the priority list.

But remarkably, all the good stuff that shows up at the end of December / beginning of January around here is like the siren's call. As of today I am up to 91 species, having seen and photographed American Pipits; a bird I missed many times last year! Yes, I have been sucked into 'the game' again.

Last year was not too shabby all things considered. I ended up with 300 species for New York State. A few out of state trips were good too, with a nice score of lifers, but I'll get to those at another time.

What really got my juices flowing was a day out east in Riverhead looking for a number of goodies previously reported. It began with a stop at a Buffalo farm, where a Yellow-headed Blackbird was hanging out with the Brown-headed {buffalobirds?} Cowbirds. Not home. The Sharp-shinned Hawk in the tree and the Merlin swooping through the field probably was responsible.

Satisfied we would not be successful, Earic, Garouse and I explored other places without turning up anything unusual. Then we decided to head up to Iron Pier Beach where an Iceland Gull had reportedly returned for another visit. On the way, we passed farm fields on Roanoke Avenue, and I spied a big white bird in with a large flock of Canada Geese. I told Garouse to stop, thinking it was probably a Snow Goose. It turned out to be a Tundra Swan, unusual as I have seen this species many times before, though always on water.

The large flock of geese begged a going over, and I was hopeful to find a Cackling Goose. As I scanned through my scope, a different bird came into view and I blurted out Pink-footed Goose! Earic grimaced while he made a remark reflecting a modicum of doubt but I implored him to look in my scope and any doubt evaporated. Garouse then got a look while I made a hasty post to the list with all pertinent info about the sighting.

A few days earlier, I had run into D Ro at Belmont Lake. I was departing as he showed up, both of us seeking the Barnacle Goose. Amongst other things, perhaps prophetically, we mentioned Pink-footed Goose. So it was no surprise that shortly after my post I heard from him and he was on his way to join us and try to get a view of this bird.

We went on to Iron Pier while D Ro did his best to get there in a hurry. We dipped on the Gull, and went back to find D Ro had arrived and was busy digiscoping the goose.

The only thing better than finding a good bird is getting others on it.  I was happy that the rapid post got a few people on the bird that very day despite the late hour, and eventually quite a few more over the successive days.

I made a repeat trip out there a few days later with Earic, Jeff Critter and Lisa Shrimpkee, but we could not find the YH Blackbird, nor the goose, but at least we found the Iceland Gull. We Also stopped at Gruman and scored Meadowlark, and diverted to a pond for heroic try at a reported Lesser Black-backed Gull that we did not find.

We ended the day with a Screech Owl that Shrimpkee brought us to in Massapequa Preserve. This was another bird I missed last year! Can I do better this year? Time will tell...

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