Monday, January 16, 2017

Good Day, Sunshine!

I like to bird and when the birds are out
I've got something I can laugh about
I feel good in a special way
I'm doing what I love and it's a sunny day

Like the previous day, it was a sunny beautiful day. Arlene Rails and I had planned to revisit the elusive ( for her anyway ) Crane, and some other east end goodies.

We began by trying Pepperidge Lake in Eastport. Previous attempts for birds on Eastport Lake were unsuccessful due to the freeze; we found out afterwards that they often relocate here in that case. It is a quite picturesque body of water, and the ducks thereon were a pleasure to observe in the golden morning light. More pleasant still, was getting our mutual target Eurasian Wigeon for which I shot off an alert to the intertubes... a quick stop at Eastport Pond revealed nothing else quackworthy, but we got a year Kingfisher.

Our next stop was in Westhampton at Stevens Park Yacht Basin where the reliable Lesser Black-backed Gull was easily spotted there for Arlene, and we continued on to Dune Road and Shinnecock.

Hoped for Bittern and Snowy Owl was disappointingly absent even though we spent a lot of time looking in all the right places. My only consolation was a year Great Cormorant at the inlet, so we headed out for the Crane that Arlene so sorely desired.

We arrived at Wainscott Pond and found another couple there who were scanning unsuccessfully for the past half hour. After we spent about that amount of time, and having being told by them there was a road on the south side of the pond, we tried looking for other things or other vantages.

We explored the nearby roads, and came upon the massive Canada Goose flock in the same filed we had them in previously. They continued to be devoid of interlopers unfortunately. The road at the south end of the pond was a bust, as were other roads we tried, so we went back to the primary location.

As we arrived, we noticed that John Gaggle-o-geese and Pelican were arriving as well. And it also turns out they had intercepted my earlier alert and diverted to the Eurasian Wigeon! We all were scanning the field and pond and I pointed out to them the Meadowlarks infesting the field.

When a Harrier landed by the pond, Arlene called my attention to it, whose ID I confirmed for her. While looking at it though, I saw a head in the cattails and phrags. It was the Crane!!!

I got her and the others on it, and when the couple who were there earlier returned, got them on it too. Yes!

Just goes to prove my adage: “Bird every bird.”  That is why we didn’t miss the Crane, and why we didn’t miss the only Yellow-headed Blackbird we had in California this past August, in among the populous Brewers Blackbirds and Starlings.

Satisfied, we all decided to head back to Dune Road again for another try. We all stopped at Starpuke’s; the others for their dreadful ‘coffee’, while Arlene and I availed ourselves of the pissotiere. And that’s when things started getting interesting...

I got a call from Bob Prothonotary that the Long-eared Owl had been relocated at Jones Beach! Thanks Bob!!  He gave me directions, and I shared this info with Pat and John. Hmmmm. Big smiles... Pat and John continued on to Dune Road, while Arlene and I diverted for a mid day repast.
Long-eared Owl
With perfect synchronicity, we were finishing our meal when Pat and John alerted us that they had found the Snowy Owl! They also relayed that they were observing it devour a Black Duck. It is not often one gets to witness a “wild kingdom moment” but Arlene was revolted and didn’t want to see that. Just the thought upset her.    :(

We made haste getting there, and the Owl was where the others had promised it to be. Then as if on queue, they texted again to let us know they had found the Bittern. We made more haste and caught up to them and the bird. Nice! And it felt good and symmetrical that we had gotten them two birds, and they had gotten us two birds.

And then we decided to make a break for Jones Beach and hopefully get the Long-eared Owl. Traffic on Sunrise Highway was blessedly light, and any potential volume on the Southern State Pkwy was avoided by bolting to the Ocean Pkwy.

At about 15 minutes out I got a call from Sam Jacana, who was updating me to the Owls location and volunteered to stay so as to lead me to it.  When we arrived we were greeted by a waiting Sam, and inquiries as to potential excessive velocity were deftly deflected.

He led the lot of us to the bird, and we got great looks at this elusive winter resident. A concierge! Thanks Sam!!

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