Monday, February 10, 2014

If Its Thursday I Must Be Birding #18

If I had to sum up birding so far this year in one word, it would have to be 'elusive'. On the other hand, it appears that my targets while elusive, and frustratingly so, are persisting so that hopefully I might actually see them.

Today I returned to Shinnecock for another attempt at the Black-headed Gull, now two of them, for double the pleasure, or torture as the case may be. Earic and I arrived at Road I, but it had not been cleared of snow and ice so we continued to the inlet. The same players were present as before, but now the Eider flock had grown to an impressive number, several hundred.

The Gulls were present in  good numbers too, as it is evident that the clam kills are still going on. In one big group Earic pulled out an imm. Iceland Gull, while I found a lone Bonaparte's Gull. Other than lots of expected 3 common species, nothing else. Dang.

Iceland Gull
On the jetty we found Turnstones, but no Sandpurples. With not much else we tried down Dune Road. The same species as on previous visits were present; GB Heron, BCN Heron, several Swamp Sparrows, and a new year bird: Savannah Sparrow. YB1. We tried to peruse the shore from the various roads but all were un-attended to, and I did not want to risk getting my car stuck.

Eventually we stopped at Quogue Beach, whose lot was well cleared. There were about a dozen Robins, and I checked each of them hoping for something better secreted amongst them. No dice, so we walked the beach to check out the large number of gulls. Nothing out of the ordinary again, but the remains of the clam kill was impressive, with spider, lady, and blue claw crabs and even a horse-shoe crab in the surf debris.

We went back to the inlet for another desperate attempt, and once again disappointment. Heading out, Earic spied an imm. Bald Eagle soaring by the bridge, and we watched as two Great Black-backed Gulls harassed it. YB2. Further along the road by the coast guard station we spotted a Peregrine Falcon, and then it landed in the radio tower giving us a great look.
Peregrine Falcon
Our next stop was the Buffalo farm. Things were looking up as there were a lot of birds in general, and blackbirds in particular. Scanning through them we found a lot of Horned Larks, 3 Pipits, and one Snow Bunting. The White-crowned Sparrows were still present, and we were able to spot an adult and an imm. Gambel's race amongst them. There were a few Savannahs, White-throated, and Earic picked out a Vesper Sparrow. Yb3!

But no YH Blackbird. Double Dang.

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