Friday, January 31, 2014

If Its Thursday I Must Be Birding #17

With such cold and brutal weather lately, today's relative moderation was such a pleasure to be out chasing the goodies out east. The day began with retrieving my car from the mechanic's before Earic joined me. We made our way to the west end  of Dune Road, and birded our way east.

Various expected species were along the way, and we got our first more desired species at the Quogue nature trail. Tree Sparrows called which Earic heard, but I was able to see one queued up nicely in a phragmite on the way in. We had three Flickers, and on the way out we stopped on the section over the marsh cut. Earic tried to spish out the Tree Sparrows to no avail, then I squeaked to perhaps attract a marsh sparrow. To our delight the squeaking caught the attention of a Clapper Rail.

Clapper Rail
We continued east down Dune Road, stopping periodically where the water was open and found a Killdeer and a Black-crowned Night-heron, and then a Seaside Sparrow darted out from under the cover of the drooping marsh grass. We got a few looks in as it flew from one hiding spot to another.

Black-crowned Night-heron
 We also searched and searched, but try as we might we could not locate a Bittern, even though this area is probably one of the most reliable places to find them at this time of year.

Our next stop was near Triton Lane. Earic spished and I spotted a short tailed sparrow flit from one clump of brush to another. We tracked down the bird and found that there were three of them, and learned from others that they have been in this area for at least a few weeks now. Nelson's Sparrow!

Nelson's Sparrow
We also learned that we had missed a Black-headed Gull that had been at the inlet earlier in the day, but flew off as has been its M.O. The inlet also had the usual suspects as well as the Eiders, but nothing much else of note.

At this point we headed north to the Riverhead area to look for geese. We criss-crossed the area hoping to find flocks on the numerous fields, but it was remarkably devoid of geese. Merrits Pond was also empty. So we stopped at the Buffalo Farm, and while there was no blackbirds to be found, we had great close up looks at a dozen or so White-crowned Sparrows right along the fence.

White-crowned Sparrows

More fields were passed on the way to Northville , and again no geese. But we stopped at Church lane and there on the roof of the house on the north side of the road were several Turkey Vultures, and one Black Vulture.

Black Vulture [left ] Turkey Vultures [ center, right]

We did more exploring, hoping to find the elusive geese, but never did. Instead we found an enormous mostly Common Grackle flock, with some Red-winged Blackbirds mixed in. No one else had reported this flock, and a flock like this was where a Yellow-headed Blackbird had been found last year. Sadly, the flock was west of us ie with the sun in our eyes, and constantly swirling around, both of which making scanning through them difficult if not impossible.

We ended the day at Gruman, where we easily saw Meadowlarks, but could not find a Short-eared Owl as hoped. All in all a pretty darn good day. 8 year birds for 113 so far, and 2 Suffolk County birds.

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