Saturday, December 13, 2014

Jones Beach - 13th Dec

My last full days' birding before the Christmas holiday, so I headed to Jones Beach of course!

I started at the coast guard station, which turned out to be an excellent choice. I'd hardly got myself set up when a large bird flew past off-shore, American Bittern! It landed in a small reedbed just along from me. Naturally when I approached its spot it was totally invisible until it exploded out of the reeds right in front of me. The nearest I've been to this bird was dipping on one in Morecombe (I think) in 1991.

I continued on to the west end car park, and walked down the beach to the point. The dunes had the usual flocks of Horned Lark and Snow Bunting, with 2 Lapland Buntings.

At the jetty a large flock of Common Eider was just off shore. While watching them another birder pointed out a pair of Harlequin Duck. This was my main target species achieved, and I settled in to enjoy them. Astonishingly beautiful, when I showed the pictures to my youngest son he thought they weren't real. Also at the point were several small groups of Long-tailed Duck, 1 White-winged Scoter, 2 Black Scoter, many Red-breasted Merganser, Red-breasted Loon and Common Loon. A small flock of waders on the rocks consisted of 20 or so Sanderling, about 40 Dunlin and a single Purple Sandpiper.

On the way back there wasn't much, apart from a single Peregrine.

American Bittern. Flew past me as I was standing at the coast guard station drinking my early-morning coffee. It landed in a tiny reedbed for a few minutes, then took off when I inadvertently got too close. Apparently quite rare these days.
Male Harlequin Duck. Astonishingly beautiful birds. These two were at the stone jetty at the west end of Jones Beach.

Female Harlequin Duck.
Long-tailed Duck. Quite a few small groups flying up and down the shore line today.

Purple Sandpiper. Only one, on the stone jetty, associating with a mixed flock of Sanderling and Dunlin.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Westchester Rarities - 6th Dec

Quite a damp and not-very-pleasant weekend, so my birding today was confined to twitching a couple of rarities reported from some nearby sites. First stop was Five Islands Park for a Black-headed Gull that was found last weekend. That was quite easily found, so I moved on to Mamaroneck to get a Eurasian Wigeon that was found earlier in the week. Also a very easy find, and I was back home in front of the telly in under 2 hours!

One of several Eurasian Wigeons in the New York area at the moment. This was at a site in Mamaroneck called Hummocks Conservation Area.
Associating closely with the American Wigeons nearby.
Black-headed Gull conferring with a much larger Ring-billed Gull. I must admit to mixed feelings about this bird. Context is everything of course, but twitching a BHG?