Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Saturdays Are For House Work... Yeah, Right.


Things to do at home... But a call from Earic and the suggestion of catching a few misses at Kissena Park made me make haste and complete them. By the time I could meet up with him, he had conferred with Shrimpkee, and we all met at Kissena Park.

Shrimpkee was joined by Pam from Virginia, in town to visit a niece, but catching up on some good birds as well. She had contacted me, Avian, and some others but Shrimpkee was the one who stepped up to the plate and offered to take her around to find some owls.

They started by meeting at Floyd Bennett Field where they had the Snowy Owl, followed by the Screech Owl at Massapequa. Kissena was supposed to provide us with the Great Horned Owl and the Red-headed Woodpecker, but neither came to pass.

We decided to try Alley Pond Park, and see if we could find them there. In the snow covered park, sparrows and other small birds were making use of the very few areas where the snow had been scraped off the grass. Besides the expected Juncos and White-throats, we had three Fox Sparrows, always a pleasure to see. This year they have been around in good numbers.

Song Sparrow [L]   Fox Sparrow [R]
We walked the Mel Kaplan Trail, and Earic heard a Blue Jay complain. Looking up in that direction we found one then another Great Horned Owl. Earic then asked us to all thank Mr. Blue Jay for finding the Owls. We were happy to do so. YB1 for me.

Great Horned Owl

From here we went to Oakland Lake where a controversial 'Northern Pintail' was being seen. A young bird, and looks correct, but its drastically small size, smaller than the Mallards, has everyone scratching their heads.

Northern Pintail ???
We also tried the rear of Oakland Lake by the ravine, hoping for some Rusty Blackbirds. There were  lot of Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds, but if there were Rusties we could not pick them out. A suitable compensation was a Winter Wren however, hoping from clump to clump and inspecting the labyrinth for what it could find. YB2

Winter Wren

Earic packed it in, but Shrimpkee, Pam, and I wanted more Owls. First we tried Jamaica Bay for the Barn Owls, but if they were home they were hunkered down and trying to keep warm. Undaunted, we set off for the Rockaways and one final chance.

The Edgemere dump has been drastically improved and made into a park. No more sneaking in. In the past it was never certain what would be the result of a visit. Would the gate be closed? Would we be chased out? Would we be chased by a pack of wild dogs?

We drove to the base of the landfill, Shrimpkee disappointed that there was  a car present where she usually parks. She had seen the Short-eared Owl from right there, but it was obvious that would not work this time. Being later in the day, and not having gotten any warmer, I volunteered to walk up the road to see if I could find the Owl.

A short way up, I ran into the occupants of the car, a banker from overseas, and his military escort.  They confirmed the owl's presence, and shortly thereafter it appeared flying over the far edge of the dump. YB3. I waved at Shrimpkee and Pam, and they joined us. It was a distant though nice view of this bird and a few Harriers.

With light fading, we brought Pam back to her car at Floyd Bennett field. We tried one last time for a possible additional look at the Snowy Owl, but we could not find it. A nice day, and a great job by Shrimpkee showing an out of towner an incredible four species of owl!

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