Some good birds being around is always a suitable excuse for an adventure. Add to that a friend who wanted to get some of them and a plan was hatched.
But sometimes not planning is not so shabby either. This past Tuesday I found out about a Yellow-breasted Chat at Jones beach, and was able to head there after completing some crucial tasks. I arrived to find Bob Prothonotary, Caesar Chaffinch and Joe Jacana there trying to find it. In short order Caesar spotted it low in the bushes and we all got great looks. Pat Pallas Reed Bunting who told his co-workers: “I have to use the rest room” or some such excuse I imagine, arrived and got the bird as well. Yellow-rumped Warbler was another year bird, as was a fly-by Bonaparte’s Gull, the later having become so much less numerous than in the past. Walking to my car, a stranger pointed out the Peregrine on the Coast Guard station. Four year birds, not too shabby.
Captain Bob and I began the day in a fruitless search for Owls, but we gave it a good try. We also did not cross paths with the Pipet, Rough-legged Hawk, Chat, or Orange-crowned Warbler. As I was departing the parking lot I stopped to speak with Pelican, and she told me she had just had the OCWA. Doh! Oh well, Bob needed that.
Then we made tracks for Southold, and the Townsend’s Solitaire. We diverted to Alvah’s lane and perused it and the roads nearby in hopes of relocating the previously reported Pipets, but saw no small birds at all. There were lots of Canada Geese though. Thousands.
After this we arrived at the Solitaire location and found Dave LaSagra along with another birder Jacqueline. After a short bit we got great looks at the Solitaire. Captain Bob got a lifer, and Dave and I year birds. I then coerced Dave to join us a short distance away for the Virginia’s Rail. We walked the trail to the observation tower and all remarked that it seemed to be a farther distance than what we recalled, but eventually arrived there.
For those who have not been to it is has to be one of the nicest and best constructed towers. After a short bit of searching we had a rail right below us in the cattails. Yes! Great looks and another year bird. Bob and I took off, while Dave waited for his friend Jacqueline to arrive; she had lagged behind us a bit.
We had gotten 10 miles away when Dave called. He was at Alvah’s Lane and he had found four small white geese! I told Bob: “I’m going back” and made a U-turn! I have been searching for Ross’s Geese unsuccessfully since the new year. The freeze and foxes at Robert Moses STPK had them on the move, and of late they were not lingering anywhere for even the whole day!
I made ‘haste’ getting there, and drove quickly even by Bob’s standards. We met up with Dave who had stayed put so as not to risk spooking them prior to our arrival. One appeared to be a slightly larger than the others and gave Dave pause, but they appeared to be all Ross’s Geese as far as I could tell. We decided to drive further down the road for closer inspection, and before we could they took off! We followed them, and arriving near the end of the road we relocated them with a flock of Canadas on the other side of the road. With the sun at our back, it became clear that they were in fact all Ross’s. Thanks for the call Dave! FYI, this page has good DDX info on Snow vs Ross vs hybrids.
Once again, Bob and I took our leave. We made our way to Southampton in search of a Commonule, ( Common Gallinule ) at Cooper’s Neck Pond. For the first time in the day, it was feeling seasonably appropriate; up until then it was downright balmy. We saw lots of quackiderms in the far side which was not frozen including Shoveler, Wigeon, Coot, and Gadwall; as well as a PB Grebe ( a YB ). The Commonule was there, but in lieu of seeing the bird we heard it repeatedly calling from the phrags right next to us. That’ll work!
We didn’t have a lot of daylight left, but we tried Dune Road. Nada. Oh well, who knew that bitterns that everyone else has been seeing and had heretofore been easy to find would now be eluding me. At least I conquered the Ross’s geese that had been curiously hard to cross paths with. Another great day of birding: Bob got a lifer and I got 4 year birds. But what a contrast from Tuesday's!