On Sunday November 1st, I decided to bird the barrier beaches of Long Island NY; the plan was to meet up with Shai Mitra and Pat Lindsay for a day of birding. The coast guard station at Jones Beach was my first stop and I found myself very quickly trying to count a number of Royal Terns that I spotted on the spit. A few minutes into the count and observation, I was joined by several birders including Seth Asubel. Seth counted 33 Royal terns, 2 more than I had initially counted.
Shia and Pat soon arrived and Shai did a count of the Royal Terns getting 32, so we knew we were close. Before leaving the area the three of us did a final review and count and came up with 52 Royal Terns. Later in the day, Shai, and I had two more fly by at Robert Moses that made our day total, 54 Royal Terns. 54 Royal Terns! The highest number I have ever seen. Shai, Pat and I soon left and together we birded other areas of Jones Beach.
Our next stop was field six where we saw a massive flock of Dunlin, Black-bellied Plovers and Red Knots. We were also able to pick out a couple of Western Sandpipers and settled on what appeared to be a juvenile golden-Plover. The juvenile American Golden Plover had us going for a bit as the call sounded rather odd and had us contemplating Pacific Golden, as we heard it call a few times. Unfortunately, we were unable to lock onto the bird to analyze it further and so settled for AGP.
Leaving field 6, we birded around Fire Island Inlet; here we found two Northern Shovelers, two Ruddy Ducks, and three Pied-billed Grebes in a freshwater pond - unusual to find on the barrier beach. Soon Pat departed and Shai later joined me at Robert Moses where we picked up 5 Snow Buntings in the parking lot.
Out on the Ocean a steady stream of birds flew by including numerous Northern Gannets, Loons (Common and Red-throated), Long-tailed Ducks and all three Scoter species – Black Scoters were easily in the thousands. The numbers for Surf and White-winged Scoters were well in the hundreds. We also observed a high number of Common Eiders, with Shai estimating the number to be around 390.
Another interesting observation was a pair of Lesser Scaup diving among the Scoters and Eiders. After awhile, Shai left and I continued birding until around 4:00 P.M. and then called it a day. Another fine day of birding the barrier beaches with Shai and Pat with the highlights being a high number of Royal Terns and Common Eiders.