Sunday, February 22, 2015

Brooklyn sites - 22nd Feb

A sharp increase in temperature overnight saw the start of a big thaw. I decided to spend the day checking a few sites in Brooklyn. First stop was Floyd Bennett Field where a flock of 37 Snow Goose was the highlight. After a while I Moved on to Marine Park where a tiny corner of the north end still had open water. Most of the birds around the pool seemed exhausted, many of them barely finding the energy to move out of the way as people approached. The recent extreme low temperatures seem to have caught a few local birds by surprise.

A quiet day.

Snow Goose

Another collared Canada Goose. Details to follow...
Bedraggled Peregrine.
Grey (Black-bellied) Plover

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jones Beach & Captree SP - 17th Feb

Presidents' Day is an excuse for New York schools to take a bit of a breather, so we get a couple of extra days off. I chose to catch up with what was going on at Jones' Beach. The early snow made life a little tricky, but it stopped about mid-morning. Best birds were a fast flyby Northern Goshawk which has been hanging around all winter. A flock of sparrows at the west end included 1 Field Sparrow, plenty of American Tree Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow (including 1 'Ipswich' Sparrow), Song Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco. Lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers here too.

The coast guard station had a large flock of mixed Snow Bunting, Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur.

At about noon I headed towards Captree State Park. Along the road I had several Northern Harrier and 1 dark phase Rough-legged Hawk. At Captree I connected with the resident flock of Boat-tailed Grackles.

Boat-tailed Grackle. A small population along the south coast of Long Island. These birds were at Captree State Park

Rough-legged Hawk, dark phase, juvenile.

This large pale Savannah Sparrow is of the subspecies Passerculus sandwichensis princeps. Known as 'Ipswich' Sparrow, they come from an isolated population on Sable Island of the coast of Nova Scotia.
Similar in most respects to the nominate P. s. sandwichensis, they are noticeably larger (up to 50% heavier), and paler.
Field Sparrow
The resident flock of mixed Horned Lark, Snow Bunting and Lapland Longspur has moved to the coast guard station. The proportion of Longspurs has also increased, with at least 8 birds present today.
Juvenile Great Black-backed Gull. Nasty looking beast...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Coney Island Creek Park - 13th Feb

A mid-day twitch to to look for a Thick-billed Murre. The last two days have seen reports from New Jersey, Staten Island, Long Island and Connecticut. The closest to me was in Brooklyn at Coney Island Creek Park. Whatever weather event has caused this highly unusual event also brought arctic conditions with it, and I have never felt so cold. The air temperature was about -10 Centigrade, with the wind-chill factor taking that down quite a way. I now understand how a cold wind can 'cut like a knife'. Brutal. What made it worse of course was missing out on the bird. There were a few compensations, the most interesting being an aberrant Canada Goose with large white wing bars visible in flight.

Horned Grebe
 Female Red-breasted Merganser
This oddly plumaged Canada Goose looked at first like it might be a hybrid, however when seen on the water it was indistinguishable from any of the rest of the flock. It seems it is just an aberrant individual, apparently not that unusual an occurrence.
American Tree Sparrow, blending in very well with the environment...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Gyr Falcon, Shawangunk - 8th Feb

Shawangunk grasslands is about an hour an a half north of my home, and is a place I'd planned to visit. In summer it has Bobolink, Meadowlark and some interesting sparrows, and in winter there are good numbers of Rough-legged Hawk and Short-eared Owl. On Friday this week a Gyr Falcon was spotted there, so my vague plans of getting there 'sometime this winter' coalesced into a decision to go as soon as possible! The bird had shown well after about 3:30pm on the Saturday, but I was eager to be at it, so was on site at about 9:00am, along with loads of other birders! In the end we didn't have to wait until 3:30, as it showed up on Blue Chips Farms just before 1:00pm, giving fantastic close perched views, and an amazing close flyby, before it settled down on a tree about 200m away.

Other birds in the area included at least 3 Rough-legged Hawk, 3 Red-tailed Hawk, 2 Coopers Hawk, 13 Horned Lark, and a selection of commoner species.

Gyr Falcon has been very high on my (long) list of desired birds, and this fellow didn't disappoint. It kept me waiting, 4 hours in subzero temperatures, but the pay-off was well worth it...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Central Park - 5th Feb

Today was absolutely freezing in Central park, with a cold front sweeping across the city during the morning. One of the most birdy areas was at the reservoir where several hundred Canada Geese mixed with various species of Ducks, as well as a mixed flock of Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull and Black-backed Gull. The feeders in The Ramble also had quite a lot of birds, including a Common Redpoll, 4 Fox Sparrows, a Chipping Sparrow, 2 Downy Woodpeckers, 2 Red-bellied Woodpeckers, 2 Red-tailed Hawks as well as several other commoner species.

1st winter Ring-billed Gull, many at the reservoir today.
The male Common Redpoll continues at the nylger feeders in The Ramble.

Chipping Sparrow, Fox Sparrow and a slightly obscure American Goldfinch.
Suet feeders always seem to attract woodpeckers such as this Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Female Wood Duck on the frozen reservoir.
 Central Park reservoir...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Glaucous Gull in Brooklyn - 1st Feb

A juvenile/ first winter Glaucous Gull has been hanging around the Bush Terminal Piers Park in Brooklyn. An absolutely smashing bird, it spent a few minutes circling the area with a large flock of mainly Ring-billed Gulls, before returning to its roost by the rotting pilings at the northern end of the park.

Other birds in the area included a male Eurasian Wigeon, as well as several other winter ducks inlcuding Bufflehead, Greater Scaup, Gadwall, American Wigeon and American Black Duck.

Male Greater Scaup.