Sunday, February 19, 2017

Little Gull and Black Guillemot at Montauk - 19th Feb

A long weekend in winter is a good opportunity to head off to distant parts of the state to pick up on some rarities. Several good birds were found in Montauk this week, so I headed off early for the long drive east. First up was a Black Guillemot that has been hanging around the Coast Guard Station in Montauk inlet. It was very obliging, but didn't come too close. Lots of other good birds there including extremely close views of Common Loon and Surf Scoter, and a nice first winter Iceland Gull.

Next stop was Ditch Plains Beach. Just offshore was a feeding flock of Bonaparte's Gulls, with a single Little Gull. Good views, but the tide was rising so time was short.

The lighthouse at Montauk Point was glorious, but the sea was flat, and the rafts of ducks were some distance offshore. Thousands of Black Scoter, Surf Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Common Eider, but no sign of the female King Eider that has been here. No problem, a good day all round.

I can't remember the last time I saw Little Gull. I think it was Staines Reservoir in about 1989! Brilliant birds.

Black Guillemot are quite rare in New York, this is the first record in about 5 years.

Cracking first winter (Kumlien's) Iceland Gull.

Surf Scoter
Female Common Eider
Common Loon. Almost close enough to touch!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Red-necked Grebe in Central Park - 14th Feb

A quick slide around the reservoir in Central Park looking for a Red-necked Grebe that has been hanging around for a week or so. It was pretty easy to find, out in the middle, feeding actively and preening. It had been released on the reservoir after being rescued in Brooklyn, but a nice bird nonetheless.

Red-necked Grebe. My last one of these was in exactly the same spot 3 years ago,my first NY rarity.
Tufted Titmouse.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Evening Grosbeak at Tupper Lake - 5th February

On Jan 26 a first year Ross's Gull was found on Tupper Lake in The Adirondacks, about 5 hours drive north of NYC. Being a completely sensible person I spent the following week nervously checking the NYS listserv to see if it was still there. The only news on Friday was that it had not been seen yet, the last sighting being Thursday afternoon. At 3:00pm I had to make a decision, which was obviously "let's go for it!", so I jumped in the car and drove straight to The Adirondacks. I spent the night in my car (-16°C), and started birding on the causeway where the bird has been seen most often at 7:00 on Saturday morning.

It was pretty desolate, particularly looking west over the main part of the lake. When looking east the most noticeable thing was 1000 BLOODY ICE FISHERMEN! WTF? It turns out that Saturday was the annual ice-fishing competition on Tupper Lake, with participation limited to 1,000. Each ice fisherman had arrived in a truck, which had a trailer containing either an ATV or snowmobile, which then towed a sled loaded up with all the gear you might need for a day ice fishing (This included, but was not limited to: Ice boring tool, tent, barbeque, brazier, deck chairs, sleeping bags etc.). To describe the area as busy would be a dramatic understatement. Not surprisingly the gull had buggered off!

Some other good birds had been seen in the area fortunately, so I spent the morning chasing down a Northern Shrike in the town park, and a flock of Evening Grosbeaks that had been frequenting a feeder in someone's garden. By midday it was time to head home. Not the day I'd hoped for, but not bad nonetheless.

A magnificent male Evening Grosbeak. 16 birds moved around the area, mainly staying pretty high in the trees...
... though they did visit the feeder occasionally. This is a female.

Amongst the Goldfinchs was this Pine Siskin. Oddly this is the first I've seen perched in the three winters I've spent in NY. I thought I'd see more.
Northern Shrike. Finally! I've dipped on a couple of these so was pleased to finally catch up with it. Now all I have to do is to wait for it to be split!