Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Birding the barrier beaches of Long Island NY...

I had promised to help out Shai Mitra and Pat Lindsay with the NYC Audubon walk that was scheduled for October 11th at Robert Moses State Park. After clearing a mix-up with the National Park Service on a program that I was supposed to run at Jamaica Bay, I confirmed my availability. The walk was to begin sometime around 11:00 a.m. once the contingent from NYC had arrived. In my opinion, 11:00 a.m. is much too late to catch the morning birds, but that was the time this trip was scheduled. Anyway, there was no way I was going to begin my birding day that late so, I was at the Coast Guard Station at Jones Beach, by 6:55 a.m. where I met birders who were already there. Seth Ausbel, Tom Burke, Gail Benson and someone else whose name I did not get. Together, we birded a bit around the Station, picking up quite a number of Kinglets – both Ruby and Golden Crowned, Swamp Sparrows and numerous White Throated Sparrows. Eventually, we all moved on to bird separate areas. I found myself with Seth and his friend while Tom and Gail headed towards the fisherman’s parking area. The birding was not bad, but the diversity was minimal; slowly, I added to my day list picking up Northern Flicker, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler and others. About an hour into birding, I got a call from Shai, who indicated that Pat had found a Dickcissel. Yes, there is such a bird as Dickcissel as there, is one called Titmouse...I am not yanking your chain.

I passed the word to Seth and decided I would immediately convene to where Shai and Pat were located. On my way to my vehicle, I saw Tom and Gail and relayed the message only to find out that they had also gotten the call from Shai and were on their way as well. Tom and Gail waited for me and I followed them to the area where the Dickcissel was seen. When we got there, Pat and Shai were at the end of the strip and so Tom, Gail and I walked and birded heading their way. Along the strip, we again had a plethora of Kinglets, Chipping Sparrows and a couple of Field Sparrows. At one point, Tom and I heard the call of the Dicksessel, but could not locate the bird and after that one call we did not hear it again. We finally met up with Shai and Pat; by then, we were joined by two other birders, Ken and Sue Feustel. Shai stayed behind to speak with Ken and Sue, while Tom, Gail, Pat and I continued to backtrack where Shai and Pat had just left, in hopes finding the bird. We had gotten about half way down the stretch and Tom and I were parsing through some Sparrows, when Ken called out to us, they had found the bird. We hurried back towards them and spotted the Dickcissel feeding in the grass with some other sparrows. After getting our fill of the Dickcissel and pointing Seth and some other arriving birders to the location of the bird, Shai, Pat and I left to prepare for the Audubon walk.

Shai rode with me while Pat headed off to get some sandwiches for herself and Shai. Me, I was pretty much prepared with my usual staple of PB&J packed sandwiches to carry me throughout the day. Shai and I arrived at Robert Moses State Park field 2 where we waited for the Audubon group. While waiting I went off and did a brief Sea Watch, which was not productive save for a few Northern Gannets way out. In about 15 minutes after arriving at Robert Moses, the bus with the NYC birders pulled into the parking lot. About 30 birders disembarked with their Audubon leader Joe Guinta. Shai went over to the bus, introduced himself and talked a bit about birding the barrier beaches. After Shai’s introduction we began birding the edges of the parking lot. It was much quieter now that it was almost 12:30 and birds were not easy to get.

The first bird we got the group on was a Savannah Sparrow and everyone all got good looks. As we moved further along the central median, we picked up Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, Northern Flickers, numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers and Eastern Phoebes. We also had a few flybys of one Merlin, a couple of Kestrels and 2 Peregrines. As we got closer to the Hawk Watch, Pat came towards our group and told me she had received a call from Tom Burke who had found a Lark Sparrow. I told Pat that I was going to join her if she was going for the bird.

After speaking with Shai, I excused myself from the group and left with Pat. We arrived within 15 minutes at the location and saw Tom and other birders who were trying to relocate the bird. Pat, Gail, and I spoke to one local resident in the area and asked if we could walk behind the houses on the boardwalk. We were told that we could since it is accessible, to the public and so we began checking that section while other birders remained in the front. We had gone a few yards when I heard a familiar voice yelling, “I got the bird”…it was Bobby Kurtz. And sure enough, the bird had moved back to an area we had just checked and was feeding with some field Sparrows. We all keyed in on the bird and got great looks. After a while Pat and I headed back to rejoin the NYC Audubon group. Along the way, I spotted Eastern Meadowlarks along the median and we pulled over, confirmed the ID and got some good looks. The group by now had walked the area around the light house and then headed to field 2. We joined them and did some more birding picking up another Eastern Meadowlark, Palm Warbler, another Sharp Shinned and many of the usual species.

We wrapped up the walk with a brief Seawatch, where Pat and I saw Royal Terns, Black Scoters and Northern Gannets. It was hard to get people on the seabirds because they were moving fast and by the time you tried to get someone on the scope the birds were out of the field of view. At 4:30 PM, Joe decided that it was time to head back to NYC and so we bid the group farewell. After the group left, Shai, Pat and I did a little bit of birding then Pat and Shai decided to call it a day. I headed back to Queens and birded Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge for a bit before calling it a day around 7:00 pm. It was another good day of birding the barrier beaches of Long Island.

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Cindy said...

Now, 11:00 AM is my kinda birding..:-) Your dedication is admirable, thank you for sharing your Dickessel..

Cindy said...

Now 11:00 AM is my time for birding..your dedication is admirable..thanks for sharing your Dickessel ;-)

Appalachian Lady said...

Looks like a great day of birding--good folks and nice finds.