So very early am Saturday I hear a thump which rouses me from sleep. Never a good thing to hear, but got up to investigate after reassuring myself that it was not something bad. I quickly learned that one of the clothes rods in my walk-in had collapsed; one of the supports had pulled the screws holding it in place off of the wall.
I went back to sleep, and then when I awoke at my usual time, set upon repairing this. Why am I mentioning this? Because I would much rather have been out birding. Emails and text messages were received, and of some desired species.
As is par for the course, what should have ben a simple and quick repair took a bit longer. More tools than anticipated and more difficulty finding the appropriate hardware. But when completed I am very certain that it will not fall off again.
Shortly thereafter, Arlene called to inquire what I was up to, having been similarly detained by responsibilities that morning. Mentioning the items at Jones Beach everyone else was seeing, it seemed like the right place to go.
En route, we stopped for lunch at Ben’s Best. Getting out of the car in the lot we both heard then exclaimed: Fish Crow! YB1. I then proceeded to taunt and tease Arlene because she had never had a tongue sandwich. She tried it, admitted it was not bad, but stuck with pastrami. Go figure.
Upon arrival at Jones Beach, we were checking out groups of sparrows when it became apparent that a significant percentage of other birders were present as well. And so were the parks police... We found a few Tree Sparrows in the mix with Savannah, YB2 White-throat and Song.
Moving on, we drove into the west end 2 lot; spying more sparrows on the grass. On of them was a Field Sparrow. Nice. YB3. I then got a call from Grouse who had a Pipet cued up in front of him. We made a bee line for him and got nice looks at it. YB4. We returned to field 2 to look for the reported Lapspurs, and exchanged greetings with Ed Thrasher and Bob Prothonotary. While we were not successful within the lot, those two were and they called to tell me. They found a flock of Horned Larks on the median, that held two Lapspurs in beautiful plumage replete with chestnut collar no less! YB5.
This produced a mini traffic jam of sorts, with birders in the left lane, left shoulder, and on the right shoulder. We were all gawking at the cooperative birds when one of the numerous, and I mean numerous parks police cars present that day, drove right across the grass to come over and berate us.
He dispersed the flock by doing so, as well as most of us who didn’t want to hear what he might have to say. Unfortunately Jeff Critter was somewhat detained by fiddling with items in his trunk. I hope the worst thing that happened was a tongue lashing.
We returned to the lot and scanned from the car for the Snowy Owl. No luck, but a big raptor flew low over the dunes in front of us and as we watched it we began verbalizing: ...not a Harrier, not a Red-tailed, not a Red-shouldered, not a Carpie/Shoopers... ...Yes! Northern Goshawk!! YB6, and for me oh so special because it’s a species I never see often enough. I wish I could find where this fellow likes to rest so I could get a better view and perched.
We told some others, and they relayed that it had been seen a few times during the day. We moved on to check field 1, and began scanning. Arlene spotted few birds in the dunes, which turned out to be a flock of Black-bellied Plovers. A nice find, but shortly thereafter she called my attention to a white lump in the distance. I braved the cold and biting wind to get my scope on it and confirmed that she had indeed spotted a beautiful all white Snowy Owl. She looked thru the scope at her find, and then started doing the happy dance.
We got back into the car to warm up, and we perusing a bit more when another park vehicle came over to us. What now? He just came over to inform us that the lot was closing and that we had to leave. Phew.
We decided to stop at field 10 on the way back; a Glaucous Gull had been seen there earlier. Driving in, we again spotted a group of sparrows on the grass and we stopped. And once again, this prompted a police vehicle to come racing over. “What’s the problem?” she asked. Nothing I replied; we’re just looking at the birds, and showed her my glasses. Hmmm. Very attentive... too attentive IMHO. Bored probably.
We checked the vicinity but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Driving on, we stopped on the side of the Wantaugh to check out a buteo that was kiting. I was hopeful it would have been a Rough-legged Hawk, but it appeared to be a Red-tailed. Of course we would have gotten a better view if yet ~another~ parks police had not driven up and shooed us away. And to think they were nowhere to be found a week ago and for some time before that. I hope thy go back to being scarce.