Tuesday, May 5, 2015

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try {To The Twenty Second Power}, Again

There is more to life than birding. Or so I am told. Arlene Rails and I had planned to do some biking, but it ended up being a bit more troublesome for her to get it and the carrier so we ~had~ to do some birding. <g>

With more reports of Trying Heroin being reported, and at a much more convenient location; and with two accommodating Virginia Rails at the same location, and with the latter being both a lifer and the namesake of Arlene Rails, naturally we went there. Naturally.

The rails as anticipated were most cooperative. Not only did we get great looks, but a nascent birder who happened by was treated to looks at a bird most more experienced birders wish they could have seen as spectacularly.

We continued down the path at Gardiner County Park where we ran into a trio of other birders, Tim Dunlin, Taylor Stork, and Pete Murrlet, the last of whom had seen the Trying heron here just the other day, as had been reported by John Hoopoe. 

Having received word that further on was quiet bird-wise, we all went back to the trail that leads to the back side of Thompson Creek, where the Trying Heron had been seen. There we found Mike Scythbill, who reported no luck. Scanning, we saw Willets and Greater Yellowlegs as well as Great and Snowy Egrets, but much to our collective chagrin, no Trying Heron. 

Red-winged Blackbird

It got interesting when Arlene called my attention to another bird in the marsh that I quickly recognized as a Wilson’s Snipe. Everyone gathered to see it, as it is a sought after bird. Its not necessarily uncommon, but more often than not I find it secretive and hard to find - not like Willets for example. 


The others moved on, and Arlene and I explored without any additional bird success. . We decided to try our luck at Hempstead Lake. Like everywhere else, it was slow. Mostly Yellow-rumps and Gnatcatchers distracting our eyes from what we hoped would be other birds.  

Once again we ran into Taylor Stork, and gladly so, as he pointed out to us a Great Horned Owl. That is always a pleasure to see, but also was a lifer for Arlene.

After some more searching which was not so fruitful we departed Hempstead Lake. Due to proximity and knowing that I was ever so vexed by this stupid, er, graceful Heron, Arlene compassionately offered that we go to Oceanside. Golly, can a bruthuh get a heron? Apparently not. 

I like Oceanside a lot, but it has taken on a distinctively distasteful air. Though the Least Sandpipers we found was another YB, there was not much new present. The Tree Swallows were basking in the sunshine, and a Yellowlegs unsuccessfully tried to swallow a Killifish way too large to fit down its throat. And while it was hoped for, we could not find a Clapper Rail to sooth me. 

Tree Swallow

Greater Yellowlegs trying to eat a Killifish

A visit to Bigelow’s restaurant  did however, and sooth oh so well. We were reminded that we could have been enjoying these delicacies in New England on the Queens County Bird Club trip that was cancelled due to too much snow up in Massachusetts. No matter, a taste of New England near home. If you like deep fried without even a HINT of greasiness seafood, this is the place for you. Yum! And hopefully a suitable recompense for Arlene’s indulging my ever so unsuccessful quest for this ^%&%$%  bird. ...Ahem.

We then decided to visit the Norman Levy Preserve. I had never been there, and this beautiful spring day seemed like a great time to visit. In the lee of the wind the sunshine was quite warm, hot even. But once we got to the southern end and were  exposed to the bay it was yet another day of stiff cold wind. By far this has been the windiest spring I can recall.

It seemed like there was a Yellow Warbler in every tree, but not much else. In the canal on the west side I spotted a Yellow-crowned Night Heron YB. We continued around the loop, and saw not much more, but a pleasant walk none the less.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Never one to say quit, we decided that proximity dictated a visit to Jones Beach. At the west end our first good bird was a pair of Indigo Buntings, indulging us with another YB, and from the car! We had not even gotten to park in the lot yet. I have to train my birding accomplices better though, all lumps on the side of the road have to be inspected before you speed by!

At the lot, we saw that jet skiers and clamers had despoiled the sand spit I have recently learned is called Short Beach. Oh well, so much for a shot at Gull-billed Terns, we walked the median instead.

Again, out of the wind it was beautiful, made more so by the Brown Thrasher serenading us from tree top. 

Brown Thrasher

Some surprises we picked up were a Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, and Harrier. It felt like winter in more ways than one.

We headed home along Ocean Pkwy, making a stop at Captree Island. Wonderful vistas of the golden salt marsh were had in the setting sun, with many birds all around. Little Blue Heron was a nice find, but with numerous young’uns making a lot of noise driving their ATVs up and down the short stretch of road, we departed.

Hitting the mainland, it occurred to me that we were ever so close to Gardiner park. I suggested a stop, and there was no dissent. We made a brisk walk down the path to the last turn off and headed out to the marsh along Thompson Creek. It was pretty, but nothing new or willing to relent to my sticktoitiveness.

We walked towards the shore and scanned from here and there. The Willets and Yellowlegs didn’t seem to mind our presence, and despite squeaking, we could not summon a sparrow. We headed back towards the path, and then something dark caught my eye as it landed in the creek. YES! After a bazillion attempts, there was the mythical beast in all its glory, trying to sneak by us. Call me Twitchmael.

It landed briefly in the creek, then moved to the shore and eventually flew off to...? We were so happy, or relieved, depending on your point of view. Of course I did not have my camera, superstitiously believing that not bringing it might help it appear based upon the universal birding laws, specifically the "photgraphic paradox". This was also against the advice of Arlene. But bless her soul, and the rest of her feet for that matter, because as promised she delivered unto me a Tricolored Heron. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard to find a bird! What was it that Natalie Wood said in Miracle on 34th Street?  “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”. Or in this case way too many ‘try’s to fit on this page!

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