Friday, February 21, 2014

If Its Thursday I Must Be Birding #19


Due to the temperamental weather lately, previous plans for a trip out to Montauk Point had been put on hold. Conferring with Garous earlier in the week, it seemed that it was time to go. Earic, Shrimpkee, and Capt'n Bob joined us and we set out to see what we could find on a day without wind and temps in the mid forties!

We started at Hook Pond, though quickly the tenor changed. Capt'n Bob has true four-wheel drive, while Garous has all-wheel drive. The latter means that one wheel in the front and one in the back turns at a time. Better than two-wheel drive, but loose sand, snow, and low clearance meant that Garous' car got good and stuck. Really stuck.

We pushed and pulled and tried to dig a bit but it took jacking the car up, getting discarded wood to place under the tires, and a rope tied tied from one to the other car so that Capt'n Bob could pull while we tried to drive the car back out the path. It wasted at least an hour of precious birding time, and all we got to show for it there were two Tundra Swans.

Finally, we arrived in Montauk, and the point was visibly full of sea ducks as we drove up. Scanning from the restaurant, there were Scoters of all three flavors as far as the eye could see in all directions. A smattering of Common Eiders were around, but curiously no Oldsquaw. Common Loons were common, but no Red-throated Loons, Northern Gannets, or Alcids.

The most interesting item though, was the courting Black Scoters. Males were chasing females and audibly whistling. Perhaps due to the low wind we were able to hear it quit well. Not as odd sounding as the winnowing of Snipe, but a 'life sound' that makes for a new experience.

Not finding anything of interest from the eastern corner, I left the others to look at the gulls resting on the beach. My efforts were rewarded by locating an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. YB1. I made use of my contrivance: a digiscoping adapter I made myself. I had wanted to get one of the Meopta adapters, but they fit my phone only without a the phone in a case, and matching the eye-piece barrel diameter was another issue.

I will have to clean it up aesthetically, but it seems to do the trick. I have discovered however, that my new graphite tripod has a bit less stability than my older aluminum model. This means that for digiscoping I have to keep the center post un-extended for stability and less shaking.

As  result, my initial attempts are not sharp as with my camera so more tinkering is necessary.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Our next stop was South Lake Drive, for our first attempt at finding the Barrows Goldeneye. In the past multiple vantage points were necessary to find them amongst the other birds. Shortly after our arrival, I found the female, at the same time that Earic found the male. YB2. Great looks at both, and curiously absent from the lists. I predict additional reports if I post...

Male Barrows on left, facing away. COGO center. Female Barrows on right, preening.
There were some gulls in the s/w corner of the lake, and they were comprised of the three common ones as far as I could tell. But suddenly they were all put up by a Peregrine who had designs on a small gull. It escaped, and after the Peregrine moved on they settled down, the small gull turned out to be a lucky Bonaparte's. By this time last year, I had four Black-headed Gulls. Its like the bird species are tag teaming their presence.

We then continued up East Lake Drive, slowly checking the sides for any passerines. In the vicinity of Little Reed Pond, we drove up to a flock of ca. 10 sparrows, most of which were Am. Tree Sparrows, but with them were also a few Field Sparrows. YB3. I was hoping to find them and had a few places lined up as probable, but this was a nicer way to get them.

Continuing on to the jetty, we found more of the usual suspects, and one then another adult Iceland Gull.We then went for lunch at the pizza place in town and Semper Aucupium Earic spotted a Coopers Hawk on a pole nearby and tried to turn it into a Goshawk without success.

Coopers Hawk

We returned to the west jetty via 2nd House Road, but had nothing of note until at the jetty itself, where we found an imm. Iceland Gull to add to the others. The day had gotten decidedly quieter, and a stop at Rita's horse farm was disappointing too.

On the road was more interesting though, and while driving by I spied 3 Turkeys in the woods. I had Capt'n Bob pull over and make a u-turn, while calling the others who had sped by. YB4.

One final stop was Napeague, where again the quietude reigned, but at least Larry the resident Lesser Black-backed Gull was on station. Standing next to a Greater Black Backed Gull, we remarked how nice it is in these circumstances to have the direct comparison.

With light fading, we called it a day. Not bad for the middle of February.

1 comment:

Jean said...

wow Arie, if tweaking is going to make it even better you are going to be having a lot of fun!