Friday, January 16, 2015

A Wild Goose Chase Fit For a King

So with reliable yet irksomely difficult at times to get a look at geese in the area, Gary Straus {Grouse?} and I went to nearby Belmont Lake, the now annual winter lodging of Barney, the Barnacle Goose.  map

Gary was in search of the Greater White-fronted Geese, and I the Cackling Goose.  He arrive a bit earlier than I, and got the GWF. We assembled on the east side of the lake with others and scanned some more. Some time later another birder with a British accent whose name I did not catch informed us that both the Barnacle and Cackling were visible from a vantage further south.

Thanking him, the lot of us went there and we got nice looks at Barney again. But the Cackling was evasive. Eventually we decided to try our original location again, where the same fellow told us he just had the Cackling. Groan. We never did locate it that day, and the geese all took off for feeding at St. Charles cemetery or Colonial Springs golf course. We did get Barney for some Red Sox Fans before we left though.

So that the location was not a total year birder's loss, a Belted Kingfisher flew across the lake for me, while Gary had added GWF for his year list.

Next we went over to the west Sayville golf course, where we had a Eurasian Wigeon no more than 15 feet from us standing on the lawn next to the pond. The lot of them reconvened on the pond where the lighting made it near impossible to relocate. Nevertheless, YB 2 for both of us. 

Encouraged, we set our next sights on the Riverhead-Northville area where Gary was hoping for the Pink-footed Goose; both of us for Cackling and or Ross' Geese. A stop in Southahven park was devoid of geese, but a large raft of Ring-necked Ducks and ca. 10 Pintail was nice to see.

Arriving out east, all the fields were empty! We did have nice looks at a Merlin at the Buffalo Farm, and then Canada Geese started to loiter in earnest. Flock after flock dropped in until a local deliberately drove his truck out onto the field in what I can only imagine was a deliberate effort to discourage them. It worked. 

Once again we drove about hoping to locate them, to no avail. I had suggested trying Shinnecock, but Gary was not interested. We went to Iron Pier instead, where he got the YB resident Iceland Gull. 

We returned to checking the fields, and continued coming up empty. But then an email  by the Red Sox fans alerted us to a King Eider and RN Grebe at Shinnecock. Gary's wrist was a bit easier to twist. We beat a hasty retreat.

Arriving at the inlet, we joined Mike Higgiston who was scanning, but w/o success. We also met up with Bob Adamo, and we discussed that we all were a bit uncertain of the exact  location in the post. To make sure that the birds had not been sighted from the old bridge lot, Gary and I went over there after exchanging cell #'s.

We scanned for some time, but the calm waters revealed no sought after sightings. We decided to head back to the inlet, and then back to the  original location and try again. The Eider raft had moved closer, and was now north of the point rather than north east of it and further away. After a very short scan I found the King Eider who tired of playing hard to get. As Bob had stayed behind at the inlet, I informed him of the discovery, and he arrived to a waiting scope and view. I attempted to locate the RN Grebe, but sated by our success, Gary said: "can we go home now?"

Interestingly enough, Gary had thought that the geese were coming into the fields later than by Belmont, and sure enough the Red Sox fans found the PF goose up in Northville. Had we stayed we probably would have found that bird too.

Not bad. I got 3 YB and Gary got 4.

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