Thursday, April 30, 2015

It Could Be Worse...

Tuesday April 28 was not a particularly birdy day, nor a good day for me for that matter, but the weather was nice, and its always pleasing to find out you possess some really good friends.

So the day started off well with a long overdue project of hanging a door completed with the help of Phil Jabiru. And then “Hey, lets go find some birds!” A novel idea if ever there was one.

Off to Hempstead lake and we run into a loose rabble who had the not so encouraging news that little new or exciting was around. Undeterred, we set off on our own, and saw pretty much as described: Yellow-rumps, Palm Warblers, Gnatcatchers, and Swallows.

By the pond we crossed paths with Ed Thrasher and he reported Black-and-White Warbler and Ovenbird, as well as Bank and Cliff Swallow. We found the B&W, none of the other goodies, and with quietude abounding, we headed back to the car.

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler
At the lot I saw Capt’n Bob’s car, and I gave him a ring. After a bit of discussion we collectively decided to head to Jones beach instead of spending more time here. My car started right up, but the battery light went on and that is never a good sign. We decided it was best to head home ASAP. Good choice as the car died on the way. I let Capt’n Bob know of our predicament, and he turned around to come help. A jump had me get most of the way back, and another got me all the way home. The light was the sign that the alternator died, and without it one can only drive so far on the juice from the battery. It sure is nice to have some true friends.

Thursday April 30 was a good day to tackle the alternator. Grouse had called offering to distract me with a twitch for a Bar-tailed Godwit in south Jersey, but I declined, and got to work on the car. Despite reports that it is difficult to remove, it was actually not all that bad, and took a lot less time than indicated. That out of the way, I tackled some yard work. Mostly done, Phil Jabiru checked in and convinced me that Southards Pond was a better place for me to be.

It wasn’t. With the skies clouding up and the wind picking up, the beautifully sunny day earlier was not nearly so now. Yellow WARBLER AND Gnatcatchers was about all she wrote. We decided to try Gardiner’s Park, because there had been Tricolored Heron ( yes, I am a sucker for punishment ) and Virginia Rail reported there.

We walked the main path and Phil got a Catbird for the year, his second bird of the day having had Indigo Bunting earlier. At appropriate habitat we saw many herons but no Tricolored Heron. Henceforth it shall be referred to as the Trying Heron, as it is trying my patience. It was also very very windy. But then...

Virginia Rail
Phil caught something out of the corner of his eye and it was a Rail sneaking across the path. It was calling and another bird was answering. Two Virginia Rails! Some of the best looks I have gotten at this bird ever. Okay, so I don’t feel as bad for dipping yet again on the Trying Heron. YB3 for Phil and YB for me.

Still early, we pondered the possibilities of additional places to bird. Captree Island came to mind, perhaps the heron was there? I scanned with my glasses, an saw the expected birds: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Glossy Ibis, Greater Yellow legs and Black Bellied Plovers and then....

Glossy Ibis
With much anticipation and excitement I ran back to Phil’s car to get the scope and get on a bird off in the distance. Could it be? Relocated in the scope it was! A Little Blue Heron that is. In fact after scanning all about there were at least five. But the Trying heron still has the best of me.

We continued on to Bobby Mo State Park, and no sooner had we turned west onto the roadway by the water tower, than I yelled STOP. There on the shoulder was a Blue Grosbeak. It was much bluer than the one the other day, and another YB for Phil.

Blue Grosbeak
With the wind being merciless, we cruised around more, hoping to find more lawn birds. We didn’t. But I was able to find a few Gannets out on the ocean for Phil, for yet another YB for him. Okay, so I only got one today, but what a look!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Weak End Birding

Am I the only one who thinks that sometimes there is not enough time to bird? So finding time Saturday afternoon I made a couple of stops nearby. Southwards Pond is usually good this time of the year, but it was quiet except for a Spotted Sandpiper that made for a nice YB.

Spotted Sandpiper
After comparing notes, I decided to try a bit further afield for Prothonotary Warbler in Eastport. Arlene Rails had not had the opportunity to see the one (two?) in Brooklyn, so it was a good choice. We arrived on site to find Bob Prothonotary ( who else ) , Bob Neo Tropical Cormorant, and Ed Thrasher. We all searched for a longtime but without success. Later, Ken & Sue Kestrel showed up and they were no luckier. The location was quite scenic, and Jim Ostrich who stopped by briefly told me the pond on the opposite side of the bridge was a great place for waterfowl in the winter. Who knew? I had been nearby many times and never been here. A new birding location!

Fresh on our defeat, we headed back, with a planned stop at Smith Point on the way for some goodies reported recently. Who doesn’t like a Blue Grosbeak? It seemed to be one of those “where all da bird be at” days. So with no other choices we perused the gull flocks in the lot. Why is it that if you stop to look at gulls in a lot folks have to drive thru the flock to pass rather than passing on your other side which would be just as expedient?

As hoped for, I picked out a young Lesser Black-backed Gull. Smaller than the Herring Gulls, and larger than the Ring-bill Gulls, roosting with them made size comparisons that much easier. It was transitioning from first to second year, with a dark mantle coming in. Gave pause was pink legs and almost totally black bill. The legs were okay, but the bill should have had more pale at the base. Oh well, stupid bird didn’t read the field guide.

2nd Year Lesser Black-backed Gull
Sunday morning we decided to try Jones Beach. On the drive in I got my first YB with a flyover Least Tern. We proceeded to the west end. So many good birds had been found recently that when it was devoid of other birders I began to wonder how it is that some birders always seem to know the right place to be. I may have to resort to water boarding as nobody’s talking.

We checked the blooming willows, hoping that the Cape May might still be around, but there were only y-rumps. They were joined by a lot of ‘brush’ birds, singing Towhees seemed to be everywhere. The Robins were noisy too, and I saw my first Catbird for YB2. But the best bird was an enthusiastic Thrasher up in the tallest cottonwood. It was up there for most of the time we were. Its not very often you get one out in the open like that.

We walked towards the turnaround, and had a few interesting birds most of which flew by or didn’t linger long enough to cinch an ID, and in addition to a House Finch, had Purple finch. On the outside of the turnaround we saw a few small warbleresque birds fly into the pines, but we could not relocate them. Searching for a while, suddenly we heard someone either call out my name or Harry. Investigating, it was Ed Thrasher by himself, alerting us to a Blue Grosbeak he had just found. Nice! YB3.

I took a few shoots and we all stayed with the bird while Ed called others. Many assembled, but somehow the bird slipped away.

young Blue Grosbeak
On the way to the car we saw a Merlin to add to a Coopers Hawk seen earlier. Then we were told of a possible Prairie Warbler by the lot and we figured it was worth a shot. Didn't find it, but there was a very cooperative and singing Field Sparrow. 

Field Sparrow

There was not much else save the lingering Brant. They should presumably, have departed by now. Oh well, an early departure on my part to do stuff at home; at least the birds were not keeping me there.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Birds Are Blowing In

With all of the great reports lately Jones Beach sure looked like the place to be this am April 23. Phil Jabiru and I got an early start on this balmy day. Balmy indeed, as with temps in the 40's and a brisk wind, I had to put on both the heavy jacket and light jacket I had brought. Who repealed spring?

We crossed paths with Bob Prothonotary on our way to check and see if the Whimbrels reported yesterday were still present. Nope. But he later called to alert us to an Orchard Oriole just found by the Coast Guard station. It too was trying to avoid the wind. YB1.

Orchard Oriole

After getting some pix, we joined with him and Bob ‘Neo’ Tropical Cormorant { there are WAY too many birders named Bob, I call for a moratorium!} and we all perused the median. Lots of y-rumps, and wind, but not a lot else. We all departed for hopefully birdier pastures.
Yellow-rumped Warbler
I convinced Phil to go to MNSC yet again for another try at Tricolored Heron. I am a sucker for punishment. Maybe they should call it the Trying Heron? Lots of Ibis, wind, and disappointment; so we went to Hempstead lake.

We caught up with the two Bobs again, and walked around in the cold. It took a while but we found a mixed flock in an area of less wind. We then got some intel from Ed Thrasher about a White-eyed Vireo he had seen earlier, and we headed off to that location to look for it.

Bob Prothonotary heard it first and with the four of us looking we spied first some movement and then the bird in a bunch of multiflora rose. It posed as well as a nervous little bird can in a tangle of vegetation, which limited photographic opportunity for me.  After this fellow, it appeared we had exhausted the birdy opportunities here and we decided to relocate again. YB2.

We reconvened at Valley Stream State Park, a place I had heretofore never been prior to this year. I had however remarked about it on a few occasions, as I pass by it on a frequent basis. It all comes back to my theory that birders tend to follow the reports, and the observation that I have ‘discovered’ {for myself} some beautiful places as a result of chasing the birds that had been reported there. I wouldn’t categorize this place as beautiful, but the habitat is intriguing with its two streams flowing through it.

One would think that birds would be evenly distributed, yet it always happens that they tend to be clustered in certain areas. At times it is obvious they are working as a mixed flock of birds, but at other times it just seems that they congregate in the same locations. This prompted a discussion amongst ourselves as to why two places with the same apparent habitat will have one be full of birds while the other so much less occupied. What do the birds know that we don’t?

We walked around one stream, then over to the other where Bob P. was hoping for a reported Northern Waterthrush.  We walked the length of the stream over an impressively large bed of lesser celandine which was in bloom. Pine and Palm Warblers were about as expected, as were Gnatcatchers. Further down the path things started picking up, with a Blue-headed Vireo and then a Warbling Vireo for 2 more YBs.

Blue-headed Vireo
Continuing on I saw a large bird fly up and into a tree, which revealed itself to be the most washed out Black-crowned Night Heron we collectively had ever seen. So much so that we studied it in the poor lighting to make sure it was not a Yellow-crowned.

Black-crowned Night Heron
And then it got more interesting, as I spotted movement across the bank that turned out to be a Immature type Redstart. Then a Yellow Warbler appeared and it seemed we had really hit a nice active area.

Of course working our way to the end and back we still had not found the Northern Waterthrush until another sweep downstream, but the two Bobs didn’t alert Phil and I as they thought we already had it. I eventually glimpsed it after much effort, but Phil did not.

All in all productive day with 7 year birds - the birding is heating up if not the temperature!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Tri For Another Tan and Going Pro

To me, it sounded like there was a large truck without a working muffler parked outside my bedroom window Monday night. It was rain and thunder in the 'holy-crap that’s loud' department. Tuesday April 21 I awoke to much of the same, with a torrent falling in the street.

Naturally, I was in no rush to leave the house. I did a number of things that needed to be done, though honestly, not as much as I should have. Phil Jabiru finished his morning tasks, and with a few texts we coordinated the days plans.

Task one was supposed to be [yet] another attempt at Tricolored Heron, but Sam Jacana found a Summer Tanager at Jones beach. And this time I decided to go there first. Other birders were on site, as was Sam, but the bad news was that the bird flew off and could not be relocated. We joined the search, but the result was naught. Later we learned that the bird was hit by a car. Sad.

Not wanting to waste time, we moved on. The Marine Nature Study Area was at high tide, though not wanting for Snowy Egrets or Great Egrets. Would we find our target? We found and admired Glossy Ibis, and then I noticed some birds trying to go unnoticed in the vegetation: my long sought after Blue-winged Teal! I though for sure I was going to miss this bird this year, but there they were in all their hidden glory. YB1!

m & F Blue-winged Teal
We continued on to the bay, and along the way saw the large number of Brant take off, and then saw why. Above in the sky was a drone, and while most of the other birds didn’t take much notice but the Brant sure did. And so did the 3 Willets, which both Phil and I enjoyed as a YB.

What I like about this place is how they have placed branches into the soil so that birds have a place to show of... er, perch.

Red-winged Blackbird
At the waters edge we scanned and shivered, as the nasty and cold wind continued unabated from the weekend. I could hardly hold my bins steady in the cold wind as I scanned hoping for finding a desired heron but once again the heron bested me. Oh well.

Again, time was of the essence. Both of us wanted to try for the Prothonotary Warbler gracing Prospect Park, and be able to get home on time. So we headed west into the slog of traffic. It would be so wonderful to visit all of these places without traffic, but that is only a fantasy in the overpopulated place we live. Of course, the flip side is we have a disproportionate number of great birders finding great birds - the devil’s revenge.

Finally arriving at Prospect park, we walked to the Terrace bridge. This is the place where the Prothonotary has most reliably been sighted, especially earlier this day. We didn’t find the bird, but we did find a number of photographers who said they had seen the bird earlier and were all to eager to show off their shots.

We walked around and saw lots of Palm Warblers, a few Pine Warblers, and joining the Robins and a couple of Towhees, Phil picked out a Louisiana Waterthrush foraging in the leaf litter uncharacteristically away from the water.

We walked here and there, and then back towards the underside of the bridge. At this point a few other birders were on the other side of the water and they appeared to be looking at something in earnest. I inquired, and learned that they were looking at a Yellow-throated Warbler. I could not locate it, and the bird I saw in the tree was a Yellow-rumped. But then very unexpectedly the Prothonotary flew in ~under~ the bridge, and started picking at the wood bracing!

If you want to pass you must answer these questions three...
What a bird! The sight of it just evokes joy. Yes! And a YB. 

Prothonotary Warbler

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Its Not Easy Being Greedy

It was towards the end of the day on Saturday April 18th, having done non birding things until heading home, that I saw the sigh warning of the approach of Connetquot state park. Wanna stop?

It really is quite a beautiful park. We took a short walk by the lake, and got a Barn Swallow YB1. Further along, we got Blue-grey Gnatcatchers for YB2. Overall, it was not that birdy, but it’s picturesqueness more than made up for that.

We ended up by the feeders, and had Chipping Sparrows, and then stopped to talk with the caretaker. While doing so, I noticed a creeper like bird on the side of the building. It was a Yellow-throated Warbler! So they have returned, Yay! I saw the one at Valley Stream recently, not wanting to presume this bird would return but apparently they like the place very much.  One can only hope that thy will infest Long Island with breeding pairs.

Yellow-throated Warbler
The next day, we again had things to do, but fantastical reports tore us away. First was Ed Thrasher’s discovery of a male Western Tanager, and then Phil Jabiru’s spotting of the Tricolored Heron. What to do. What to do.

We raced own the highway only to get waylaid by local traffic on the way to the Marine Nature Study Center.  Though Phil had had it 20 min before, we arrived to the news that Snowy Egrets chased it off. WTF? We scanned and looked as best we could, but once more it eluded us. We did score YB’s Fosters Term, Glossy Ibis, Snowy Egret, and Greater Yellowlegs though.

We then back tracked to Jones Beach, hearing the bird has been cooperatively staying in one spot eating willow buds. We walked out to the median to join the other birders who told us that it just flew off. Doh!

We joined them in searching, for 10-15 minutes before Sy Schiffornis told us he relocated the Western Tanager at the turn around. Prior to that, we were entertained by a most confiding Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  {AKA Rublet}
We headed to the area Sy mentioned and looked and looked, checking budding trees. Arlene Rails saw movement in a shrub, but it was a Brown Thrasher. Not the bird we were after, but a YB. 

We continued along and then Arlene found another bird, this time it was the Tanager! Several of us got looks, and alerted others nearby, but it flew off before I could press the shutter release or they could trundle on over. Much searching ensued, but that was unfortunately the last it was seen.

We searched here and there, and looked for other birds. We headed out the the fisherman lot, and found Common Terns for another YB and a breeding plumaged Common Loon.
Common Loon
Never one to quit too easily, I suggested we try Lido for a possible {and hopeful} heron discovery. We were not disappointed, though we were a bit frozen by the arctic blast of wind. Sheltered it was quite pleasant, but exposed to the full force of the wind and exposed fingers hurt! 

When not whining about the cold wind, I managed to spot many a heron in my scope, including a Little Blue. Not too shabby.

The sun was setting, and it was time to go. We proceeded on to the loop parkway and shortly spied a raptor hovering over the marsh. I made a hasty pull over onto the shoulder. Looking back over our shoulders, we watched the bird stick in one spot. And then it wavered a bit revealing its identity as a Rough-legged Hawk, lingering well beyond its usual migration departure date.  What a nice cap to the day.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I'll have a Chuck and Jack

Goat suckers are nocturnal cryptic birds. Translation? If you’re a birder it means resigning yourself to getting the bird in the dark by voice. Most people make an exception and count this bird by call only. Fortunately, the call is distinctive and loud, so there’s that, but trying to find one in it’s pine habitat for a look is a real challenge. Even if you did find one, differentiating between other possibilities can be tough. With the number of ticks around these days, traipsing around where they roost is also not advised.

So with the discovery of a roosting goat sucker that was amenable to being viewed and especially, ID’ed, I had to see it. Birding as it is called now a days, used to be more commonly called bird watching. And there is more satisfaction in ~seeing~ a bird rather than just hearing it.   

Tuesday April 14 gave me opportunity, but not a lot of time. My decision was a compromise: drive in to Manhattan. Drive in? Am I crazy? Hopefully not, but very nearly driven so by the ridiculous traffic necessary to endure there and back. I enlisted the aid of co-conspirator Phil Jabiru with the plan of finding a place to pull over and take turns waiting in the car while the other got looks at the bird.

Of course, this sounds easy, but in fact simply finding a place to pull over was itself a challenge, after enduring all the interminable traffic getting to Bryant Park, where the Chuck Wills Widow was hanging out.  It took what seemed like forever to get someplace near the park where an open space was located, but finally I found one, had Phil get in the drivers seat, and I ran off to get a look.

I was hoping that there would be an obvious group of birders gawking at the Chuck, but the last email mentioned the wrong location.  A quick check in with Phil corrected my search parameters and I headed there. He also told me he had already been rousted by the local constabulary. Soon enough though, I found birder types, and they in turn pointed out where the bird was hiding in plain sight.  MAP 

What a great bird! I was able to get a few shots from one angle in poor light, then moving to a better angle, lost sight of the bugger for a while before I could find it again and get some more photos. YB1. There was some expeditiousness as I had concerns about the car, time, and Phil being able to see it as well, so I limited my ogling and returned for Phil. When he finally returned from the 'police vanquishment', I had actually found a spot for the car!  But my joy was short lived as the spot was for commercial vehicle parking only. Unable to go back into the park with Phil I waited for him as he got a lifer. At least this spot did not prohibit standing. 

Chuck Wills Widow
When he returned, I had to mention that my numerous encounters had heretofore been auditory only, and that he was one lucky bastard to get this lifer by sight. We then tried to beat a hasty retreat but that just isn’t possible with a car in Manhattan. Eventually, we made it over the bridge and with a bit of time to spare, we stopped at Hempstead Lake State Park. I’m glad we did. There were several early migrants I had hoped to catch up with and the park didn’t disappoint!

We walked the picnic grounds at field 3 and came across a mixed flock of Warblers. The first was a dull Pine Warbler, YB2, a bit frustrating in the poor overcast conditions, and then another, and then finally a nice bright male. Wondering aloud if we would also see Palm Warblers, one appeared as if on cue. YB3. The tail bobbing was a nice tell in the dim light, but some came down from the trees to give better looks.  A Ruby Crowned Kinglet was also in the mix and a late acquisition for this year’s birds; a welcome addition. YB4. 

Palm Warbler
We found the same birds on the way back, and then checked the ponds for swallows. In addition to the numerous Tree Swallows, we picked out a Rough-winged. YB5. Not bad for a truncated bit of birding, but it was time to return home and prepare for work.

On Thursday April 16 was an opportunity for Phil to get another lifer, the cooperative Caracara upstate. I had seen it with Arlene Rails, but I was hoping to get a better look today. One eyed Jack did not disappoint. {It has been observed that the Caracara is missing one eye }. When we arrived the bird was up in the tree tops. We proceeded to the lot where other birders were congregated, and we waited for Jack to return to dine on his opossum. MAP 

One-eyed Jack, the Crested Caracara
The bird swooped in, and then began to pick at the carcass. What an incredible looking bird. A honking beak, colorful face, and what looks like one heck of a bad toupee that was a black cap. Striking. As I watched the bird chow down, I was hoping that it would get enough to eat from this aging corpse. And then the course’s grounds keeper decided it was time to mow. Jack doesn’t like his dinner disturbed, and he returned to the tree tops. Oh well, nice views, some more photos, and a lifer for Phil.

On to our next stop, we ambitiously headed to Southport CT, for a try at Little Gull. A potential lifer for Phil, I have not seen one for 19 years and this was my second attempt here {the first this past Sunday}. Beautiful and sunny, I was encouraged by a much larger flock of Bonies in various stages of plumage loafing on the water's edge. We dutifully tried our best at picking through them, but after a half hour, they put up and no dark under-winged buggers were present. Dang. Oh well. Another dip to keep me humble.

On the way home we decided to make a pit stop at the Marine Nature Study Center to try for the just reported Tri-colored Heron. Almost there, we passed John Gagglogeese leaving. A quick phone call because we could not stop our car in time, and he told us it was no longer there. Drat! We tried anyway. What is it with TCH? Last year sparse reports had a lot of us scrambling as well. A double dip. Pass the humble pie. {Groan.}

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blue Laws Sure Can Give You the Blues

Soon enough, I will want to get up early and chase birds, but sometimes its nice to sleep in. I had been discussing making a trip out to Campmor with Arlene Rails for some time now but it always seemed to occur to me on Sundays, when the blue laws of Noodge Ersey prohibit stores from being open.

Campmor has every sort of outdoors equipment you can think of, and a lot you didn’t think of as well. After a leisurely breakfast, we headed west, with thoughts of birding possibilities.  A Crested Caracara had been located in Montgomery NY, located in unassuming Orange County. Orange county for the uninformed, is populated by some top NY birders, apparently trying to usurp the title of best county or region for rarities in NY. That region everyone knows is the four counties that make up Long Island. And they are doing a very good job. Doh! Chasing close by is better!

After we had obtained a few items and were about to leave the store when Bob Prothonotary texted me that he was on the bird, but it was at a new location. With this information I fired up the GPS and we headed after our quarry: potentially state bird 407 for me and a lifer for Arlene. I was particularly interested in getting this bird as one had mad a way too brief and incognito appearance in the backyard of a non-birding Nassau resident. A photo of the bird ended up in the hands of Steve Tanager, who ID’d it but alas, too late for anyone do anything about it. Subsequently, there were a few other fleeting reports but none that were remotely twitchable.

Although the bird had been found feeding on a deer carcass in a farm field nearby, it was now in this golf course. The GPS gave me the correct instructions, but the turn off was so discreet that I  drove right past it, not even seeing the road. Arlene did however, and several birders staked out there as well. A quick u-turn and we joined them.


Unfortunately, as in the Don Henley song: ‘Heart Of The Matter’, I got the news today, I didn’t want to hear... or more appropriately, the YSHBH Constant played out. We were told the bird had been perched prominently on a dead snag in the wooded area, vogue-ing nicely for the camera, signing autographs, even doing a respectable cover of 'Hello, Ma Baby'. ..And it just took off...

So we waited and looked around, trying to find the bird. After some time though, more people began to show up and park along Roswin Road. Some off to the side better than others. Some not so much. At that point, the manager of the golf course drove up hastily and judging by the way he stopped and got out of the truck I knew it was not good. He was exasperated that so many cars were blocking the road and relayed that the owner was upset. So I asked him what we could do to make it better. He told me that we should have parked in their lot, and when I explained that there were several “no trespassing” signs at the gate that we didn’t want to violate, he relaxed and said that parking there was not a problem at all, and preferable to blocking the road. So I told him I would inform the others, and he seemed very pleased. He then remarked that they got a kick out of the bird’s presence, and that they also had a ‘crane’ on the 8th hole. We never looked into that though.

When birding on private property it is always important to be respectful of the owner’s wishes. Foremost, don’t trespass first and ask permission second. If they ask you to move, do so forthwith. Be aware that no matter how good a bird is, if it is private property or especially a business, they owe you nothing! Distressingly, some ladies from Noodge Ersey said with snark in their voices: “well he passed by four times, so why didn’t he say something before?”  For all I know, maybe with one car or two it was not a problem, but now with many more, it obviously was a cause for concern. In any case, remember that you are a guest and should not do anything to ruin it for other birders who may not have seen the bird yet!

With the problem resolved, we went back to looking for the bird and hoping it would reappear. And then it did. It flew over the woods adjacent to the main road and landed at the top of a tree affording all very good looks and eliciting gasps of joy. 

Crested Caracara
We were both very happy to have witnessed a majestic bird. We had a leisurely drive home, and on the way back an email alerted us to the Yellow-throated Warbler still being present. Though light was fading, we made an attempt, only to find the south gate of the park locked for the evening. Despite this, I was able to spot the bird across the street at the local park, and got Arlene on it. Hoping for an even better view, we drove around closer, but by the time we got there we could not relocate the bird again. Oh well, a year bird for her nevertheless.

The next day was a beauty, and we decided to stay local. {Ha!} We obtained a bagel with cream cheese to start our day, and then headed to Miller’s Pond in Smithtown. Great day to be out looking for birds, but our desired target, Blue-winged Teal, could not be located. Based on proximity, we decided to be a bit more responsible and took the opportunity to test drive some Subaru cars as we had been discussing. This worked well and confirmed our thoughts on these fine vehicles. But then Grouse called, and informing me that there were now -four- Little Gulls in Southport Beach, Connecticut, well I may have coerced Arlene into another road trip...

Connecticut sure is picturesque, and what better way to discover nice places than to end up there because a good bird was reported nearby? We found Connecticut birders Townie and Mardi Dickenson scanning the flock of gulls, and Grouse was further out on the beach for a closer look at the flock that held no Littles.

Curious to me was the large number of fresh water duck species that were in the sound; more typical of a pond. They included Shoveler, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, and Am. Wigeon. Some time later we were joined by local birder Stephan, who diligently picked out Blue-winged Teal of all things! Later he found the Eur. Wigeon but no Little Gull, so I reminded him that he was present at the non-existent Painted Bunting and Dickcissels in Stamford, and declared him bad luck. At home I confirmed that it had been a long time since I had seen a Little Gull, that being back in 1996. Now it seems, it will be even longer.

With light fading and hopes dashed, we proceeded to the Westfair Fish & Chips for dinner as suggested by Mardi. The food was great! But I wanted a beverage to go with our repast and as the restaurant had no liquor license, they suggested that I try across the street. Well the liquor store was already closed, and at the supermarket I found a shade pulled down over the beer. WTF!? The employee explained that the blue laws in CT made sale of these beverages not possible after 5pm on Sundays. Huh? I guess they want people to be sober enough to go to work on Monday. But really?

So I had a root beer instead. And the fish was delicious. And it was another fine day of birding and exploring.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Warblers Are Coming!

Even though I had gone and seen the bird earlier in the week, a bird such as this deserves more than one visit.  With a bit more time and less people milling about I was able to get a few photos while it was in a more open location. I had gone with Phil Jabiru on Tuesday, but Pelican { Pat Aitken } took Thursday April 2, 2015 off and it was not difficult to convince me to see this bird again.

When we arrived I checked the places I had seen it before, but it was not there. There was a pleasant amount of bird activity about though, and we enjoyed nice activity of small birds though being subtly disappointed by their not being our intended quarry. Of these birds Fox Sparrow was particularly nice to see, while Carolina Wren was loud and nice to hear.  The usual suspects were also augmented by Golden Crowned Kinglets and a Hairy Woodpecker

While searching, we caught the attention of a newbee photographer who was aware of the unusual interest in something in the park. She inquired of us if we were also looking for it, and we conversed, asking too, if she had seen it. She had, but much further along the path the day before, and as we walked that way later, with her somewhat ahead of us, she called out to us that it was present there.

It posed as well as any manic warbler is want to do, and I took some shots. What a bird! And to think it took me until 1992 in Noodge Errsey to get my lifer, and until 2000 to see one in New York, well that gives some perspective on how special it is that this bird seems to have expanded its range to Long Island. Yay! With one seen in 2012 in Alley Pond park, and then one in 2013 and 2014 in Connetquot State Park, they seem to be more regular. But why take chances, I wanted to see it again now!

Yellow-throated Warbler

Satisfied with our looks, we alerted later arriving birders of its whereabouts, and then headed to Broad Channel and Jamaica Bay to find the elusive Blue-wing Teal. This bird is so flighty that you have to be at the right spot at the right time at this time of the year to connect with them. Boat-tailed Grackles and Laughing Gulls were year birds for Pelican,  but no teals did we find. And the Barn Owl was anti-social as well. But we did enjoy Osprey, Shoveler, and Snow Geese. 

We moved on to Jones Beach where the wind decided it needed exercise. A beautiful day in sheltered areas was a bit more uncomfortable in the hard blowing gusts. We made it to the blind at west end 1, but the Teals and Black Ducks were very wary, more so than usual, and we could not look through them without spooking them. A descent trail to that area is needed.

Walking back to the car we scared up a Meadowlark, and a few Butter-butts, but it was devoid of any targets or new arrivals. Good numbers of Piping Plovers at the sand spit by the coast guard station was welcome, and I hope they will join the Bald Eagles in their apparent breeding success.

Our final stop was Fuch’s Pond, where we sought the Louisiana Waterthrush. Phil and I dipped on it when we tried, and adding insult to injury, two reports had the bird where we diligently looked, but after we had departed.

On arrival this day we met up with Aiden Perkins and his dad, the very young ~and~ very good birder who hosted a Bohemian Waxwing in his back yard some time ago. They pointed the bird out to us and also told us where they had Rusty Blackbirds. Of course I / we lingered too long and had to make excessive haste to drop Pelican off and get to my office for an appointment. We succeeded on many fronts, save the teal, but another excellent day birding was had nevertheless.

Louisiana Waterthrush