Monday, October 19, 2015

Hiking? Nope, Birding Cha Cha Chat

The weekend began by wanting to do some exploring and be active. More active than birding per se, the birds alas, do not let one maintain a continuous high level of activity leading me to conclude that birding is in a sense a lazy pursuit.

Caleb Smith Park was ripe for exploration. I have discovered some superb places as a result of chasing a bird to a given location. I figured if we were not distracted by knowledge of birdiness, we could explore and hike and be active like we know we want to be.

We were in the car and ready to leave when an email came in from the listserve. Isaac Brant found a LeConte's Sparrow at Floyd Bennet Field. I mentioned it to Arlene and she just smiled and said “Lets go!”. She's such an enabler. ;)

Well, it would be a year bird for me and a lifer for her, and a pretty uncommon bird to boot so we made our way there. The place was stupid with sparrows, and wind! But not the LeConte's. We did have White-crowned, lots of Savannah, and other birders had a Nelson's but with the high wind we eventually decided to go elsewhere.

Fortuitously a report came in about a Yellow-breasted Chat at Jones Beach, and that was a bird I had missed on several occasions so far this year. We headed that way as it was on our way home and arriving at the Coast Guard station we saw a phalanx of birders congregated at the hedgerow, waiting for the Chat. Isn't that usually how one sees a Chat?

An inquiry revealed that the Chat had actually been seen regularly and recently, but was, well, acting like a Chat: being furtive and skulky. Steve Tanager, who had seen the bird earlier, suggested to me that the line of birders right in front of where the bird liked to sun itself was keeping it scarce. If we were further away, the bird would probably reappear. Not sure how to affect this I declined waiting around per his advice, instead walking behind the hedgerow to peruse the nice selection of sparrows. Vesper, Field, Swamp, Song, Chipping, White-throated and White-crowned. 

Vesper Sparrow

We went back to the other side when the crowd had dispersed. We took up position on the far side of the outer hedgerow and this spectacular bird took up position on a branch to sun itself. Wow. And after several failed attempts, YB 317. 

Yellow-breasted Chat

A Lark Sparrow was also reported from the entrance to West End 2. Arlene, Pelican and I decided to head that way, spotting a Creeper and Red-hatch along the way. 

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Pat Pallas Bunting saw us walking, kindly offered us a ride to the Lark Sparrow, and showed us exactly where to look. Another nice bird for the day and a lifer for Arlene.

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