Sunday, May 1, 2016

If Its Thursday I Must Be Birding, Again

Seriously, no matter how hard I try, the birds just keep sucking me back in. Take this past Tuesday for example. Phil Jabiru found a Ruff at Timber Point. I misunderstood the message he had sent me with blurry attached photos, so I did not stop what I was doing and waited over an hour before getting additional info that it was quite a good find by Phil.

So I headed over there, only to be told en route that the bird had flown. I continued on anyway, hoping the bird would double back. It didn’t. On site I found Phil and Snowy Mitra. Both projected a thumbs down regarding the bird; and I heard a rumor that a “hyper-aggressively competitive lister had seen the bird and flushed it to thwart others”, but I could not confirm that rumor even though I did my best to spread it around.

More birders congregated, and though seeing both Yellowlegs and some Least Sandpipers in the pannes, it hardly compensated for the bird we missed.

Flash forward to Thursday and I was coerced into venturing out agin. The great reports that were fast and furious the day before were quite influential. Phil and I met Nancy Trogan at Hempstead lake state park, and despite optimism the day was not like the day before. We did see a very nice Blue-winged Warbler, and an exceptionally confrontational Blak-and-white Warbler that flew straight at me while I was looking at it. We missed an Orchard Oriole that other birders had that day, but all the Chimney Swifts made up for it, sort of...

We decided to try Valley Stream State park next. Here we scored a few Vireo species, and met up with Bob Prothonotary. He came bearing news of a Solitary Sandpiper, but we found a Spotted Sandpiper instead. Most interesting was the Blue-grey Gnatcatchers attending to their nest building right over the path. 

Gnatcatcher on Nest
Then Bob told us about a Swainson's Warbler in Manhattan. Ugh, Manhattan. None of us were enthused about negotiating the inevitable logistical challenges. Not even Phil for whom it would be a lifer. As we approached our cars though, I began to be worn down to the notion. And rationalizing I could stop in to have a part installed at my mechanic on the way, I succumbed to my own weakness and we headed into the city.

The subway system posed modest difficulties, what with new line designations, but we got there soon enough. And the bird’s favored location was practically right at the train stop. We walked into the park and the reports of 200 or so birders in the morning had us get fooled by the crowd of tourists by the ‘Imagine’ circle in Strawberry Fields. I’m impressed by its continued ability to attract visitors. On the benches were folks selling souvenir photos, playing guitar, and even one guy with a sign offering to write a joke for $1.00. I asked Phil if that guy was kidding us ;)

The crowd of birders was more modest, but I spotted Jean LeConte Sparrow who beckoned us on and we got the bird in short order. We saw it as it hopped in the Barberry. Phil got a lifer! We hung out a bit hoping for better views. A fellow named Cappy was a wiz at locating and relocating this bird again and again, much to the delight of the constant stream of birders that came a looking.

While we were there the best and longest looks were had by lying on the ground and looking under the Barberry shrubs. Not the worst thing I’ve done to get a look at a bird, and at least neither of us were in dress clothes as were many who stopped by for a look and had to get prostrate for their look.

We also ventured to the Ramble, where we were treated to great looks at a Worm-eating Warbler, and a FOS BT Blue. Not too bad for a less than enthusiastic twitch. We returned to pick up my car and I delighted in having killed two birds with one stone. ...Oh wait, as a birder can I say that?

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