Friday, January 6, 2017

The Crane Acquiescence

With a lot of rare goodies around that I want to see I made another hit-list itinerary and set off with Capt’n Bob and Phil Jabiru on Thursday Morning.

We began at Belmont Lake where we dipped on all target geese. So then we tried Colonial Springs golf course, where we did only slightly better, seeing a Snow Goose.  We didn’t explore extensively, as Phil was nursing a bad foot that literally hobbled us. On the way back to the car an island of trees was exceptionally active, and we saw quite a lot of birds including Red-breasted Nuthatch, Chickadee, and Hairy Woodpecker.

Undeterred, we went to Capri Lake in hopes of getting the furtive Ross’s Geese. We were batting 1000. We did however get wonderful up close views of Lesser Scaup and Redhead before deciding to see if they had returned to Robert Moses State Park. Once again nope. On the other hand the Lapland Longspur remained faithful to the grassy circles in field 5, as did the Snow Buntings and Horned Larks.
Snow Bunting

Lapland Longspur {through windshield}

We then headed east to Lake Ronkonkoma, where it is rumored that locals had absconded with the perennial pair of Tundra Swans of Hook Pond, and released them there. They seemed no worse for the wear, and were in the company of quite a few Common Mergansers.

Heading still further East, we stopped by appointment at the private home of a person hosting two Rufous Hummingbirds. This backyard was impressive with all the birds present and the feeders and water available for them. The hummingbird feeders were even equipped with heaters! Brilliant. Our host was most gracious, and lavished us with hot chocolate. Fortunately, we avoided on of the dread universal laws of birding by not going inside to get it; she brought it out to us.
Rufous Hummingbird

After our visit Phil suggested we attempt finding the Sandhill Crane found the day before in Wainscott. Initially I had not planned to do so, as it was perhaps a bit further a field than I thought we would go, but then again it would be a lifer for Phil. it also didn't help that the one report from earlier in the day was negative. What the heck: sure I have seen them in New York State, but having missed them on previous occasions when they were on Long Island it was a worthwhile adventure. 

Phils GPS guided us to the road adjacent to the pond. The houses lining the road prevented any view of the area behind them, so I ‘holistically’ guided him to a location I thought would be good and upon arrival we saw a car pulled over on the side. We pulled over ahead of them and scanned the field which was laden with deer.

This quick scan did not produce, so I ran over and inquired of the others. They smiled and pointed out the bird on the waters edge ensconced by the vegetation. I ran back and told the Phil and Bob and set up my scope for better views of this brown capped young bird. Yes! Elated, I shot off a quick bird-list update email before we grabbed an ensnackulatory contrivance on our way to our next stop: Shinnecock Inlet.
Sandhill Crane
On arrival we scanned all over but did not discover any rare gulls or ducks. We perused the dunes, and stopped at the old bridge lot to scan the inner shore. Way off in the distance was the tell tale white blob which I knew must be a Snowy Owl, and jumped out to get it in the scope. Amusingly, Phil was deriding my claim, me thinks because he was comfortable in the warmth of his truck, but getting out and looking through my scope put an end to that.

We explored Dune Road in hopes of finding the mostly reliable Bitterns, but we did not. One final target remained on our way back, so we headed for it.

In the past, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was reliable at the most western of commercial fishing docks by the inlet. It vacated, and is probably the bird which has become resident and reliable in Westhampton. The problem is that the name by which folks have been referring to the location is actually ~not~ the correct name! That name refers to a land locked location, while the location’s real name is different and is ‘Stevens Park Yacht Basin’. With the help of Eileen Sirystes, we were able to get to the right place and as promised, the Gull was on its favorite pole.
Lesser Black-backed Gull

What a great day we had. We all picked up a lot of great year birds, Phil got a lifer, and I am currently at 94 species for the year.

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