Monday, April 18, 2016

Upland Birding

Upland bird
She's been living in a grassland world
I bet she misses having a Long Island guy
I bet her momma never told her why

Not trying to compete in the ‘big year running around’ this year is quite a relief. I was more than pleased with my results last year and am grateful for the help from fellow birders. So rather than continuing to go crazy, I simply had a relaxed and pleasant day out birding with Pelican, catching up on some nice birds. In fact as of this writing I'm only at a paltry 121 for the year.

First stop was Connetquot State Park where the Yellow-throated Warblers have returned for the third year. They have become a welcome early spring migrant being found in 4 out of 5 NYC boroughs AFAIK. Those Bronx folks may be a bit more tight lipped. 

Connetquot for the uninformed, is an Native American word that means 'too mant ticks'.  Chipping Sparrows, Barn, Tree, and Rough-winged Swallows were evident as well as Phoebes, and the resident feeder birds. It took us a while to find one, but it gave us the opportunity to walk around this wonderful park and make the ticks salivate. We stayed on the paths however. 

On one of the go-rounds we crossed paths with new birder Bill Cliff Swallow with whom we traded notes. We spied him looking at a Pine Warbler, but by the time we caught up to him it had moved on.

We made our way back to the feeders, and eventually the YTWA graced us with its presence. { sorry, no picture } While waiting for this bird to show, Pelican spotted two Bald Eagles in a distant tall pine tree. They have been moving in to Long Island! Speaking of pine trees, they may all but disappear from this park and Long Island due to the pine beetle. It was very sad to see so many trees that had succumbed or had been cut down. 

Having satisfied our lust for this beautiful bird and helping Bill get a view, we moved on to places elsewhere. Our next stop was Heckscher state park. Nothing much to write home, er, here about, save a Oldsquaw sitting on a dock, which we presumed meant that he was not a happy [ or healthy ] camper, so we moved on again. 

Oldsquaw? Or Old and Tired Squaw?

We tried Captree Island, but dipped on the recently reported goodies. Oh well. We next went on to relocate the remarkably amenable Uppie { Uplandius sandpiperus }.  This bird was originally found by Bob Prothonotary, much to the delight of MANY birders, several of whom got a lifer. 

Upland Sandpiper
Remarkably, this is not a terribly difficult bird to get in NYS, but the knowledge of where and when to find them is apparently still not well disseminated. I thought that everybody knew that they breed at Blue Chip Farms in Wallkill, NY. This Horse farm business has been very friendly to the birding community for many many years. So if you see workers, please get out of their way. The roads are small here, please do not block traffic. And what ever you do, do NOT trespass on the farm property!! { Some fool hopped the fence a short time ago. If he had been trampled by a horse, would have served him right. }

Uppies also {used to?} breed on Long Island, but that location is now off limits and I don’t know of anyone who knows if they are still there. I last saw them there in 2003.  In 2010 one was found at Robert Moses State Park, but that one was not quite as long a visitor, nor as cooperative.

Sated, we headed further west. A stop at the Cedar Beach Marina gave us a surprise immature Glaucous Gull. I think of this as a winter bird, definitely not a spring bird, but hey - I’ll take it!  

Immature Glaucous Gull

By now we had spent more time out birding than originally planned, but it was a nice day to be out. We refueled at Abe’s Pitaria, then explored Jones Beach . A rather large flock of Dunlin were at field 10. At the West End I was surprised to see the Black Scoter was still there, as well as several Common Loons, some of which were in breeding plumage.

At the swale, we found some Horned Larks. I think they have become resident. They have been there in every month I have visited. And Brant are appearing to linger longer than into the season than I can recall. One thing is for certain: once you think you know the rules Mother Nature goes and changes them!