Friday, January 2, 2015

A Happy and Birdy Start to 2015

So the new year arrives and despite morning breaking I was in no rush to get moving. And especially no need to rush out and find any lingering drunks on the road. Eventually, a plan materialized to try again for the Black-headed Gull in Setauket. Arlene an I had dipped on it a few days prior. Another email also alerted us to a Yellow-headed Blackbird out in the Riverhead area, and we got a move on.

We arrived at the pier in Setauket, and saw a slew of species feeding on the tide exposed bottom of the harbor. We also saw Dave LaMagna {Dave the bird magnet? } on site, manning his scope.  He turned to greet us, and said the words all birders love to hear: “ I have the bird in the scope.”

Of course in the time it took Arlene and I to get out and look the bird moved, but we re-found it as well as Bonaparte’s Gulls, which in a previous epoch was both common and numerous. Yay! First good birds of the year. And first lifer of the day for Arlene.

Conferring with Dave, it was rapidly obvious that he too had planned to go after the reported Yellow-headed Blackbird further east. We collectively took off eastwards.

Approaching the Riverhead area, huge numbers of Canada Geese were seen in the air, and rather than continuing on to the Blackbirds location, I diverted down Doctor’s path to get a look at all the geese. Halfway down the road we received a call from Dave, alerting us to his having just found a Greater White-fronted and Pink-footed Goose in a field... on Doctor’s Path! He asked me where we were, and I replied: “about 1000 feet north of your present location”.

We pulled up and once again he exclaimed that the birds were in his scope, and once again they moved before we could see them. I set up a scope myself and together we relocated both geese and we all got looks.  I posted a report of the birds, and we all moved on after having satisfied our eyeballs. Lifer number two for Arlene.

Try as we did, we could not locate a blackbird flock. So due to proximity, we went to Iron Pier and found the faithful Iceland Gull.  We also got two other birders on it, who overlooked it sitting on the beach in front of them.

With light fading, we made a dash to Calverton to try for Short-eared Owls as the sun set. Arriving, who should we happen upon but Dave again. What a surprise. We set up position at a reliable vantage point and waited for the owls to arrive.  We were not disappointed, as two owls flew about the field and pursued hunting in the twilight. Lifer three for Arlene, and contemplation that perhaps we should just follow Dave around.

Before the show was over, late arrivers Michael McBrien and his mom came over and I pointed out the location of the owls. Michael also told me that they had been at Jones Beach looking at another Black-headed Gull when my goose post came through. They drove out and found them for themselves before coming for the owls. ...and I thought ~I~ drive fast!

What a fantastically great and birdy start to the new year!

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