Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Birding should always be like this…

Following the Southern Nassau County and Captree Christmas bird counts, I decided the following weekend (January 10th), to try for some of the birds that I did not get to see on the counts. I thought I had gotten out early enough 6:45 a.m, but started to think otherwise when I began to pickup birds flying over the Southern State Parkway on Long Island. The best was a Great Egret that flew over right at the Hempstead Lake exit, a bird that I don’t think was found during either CBC’s. I wondered aloud where it had been hiding. Dismissing all negative thoughts that my 1st target bird was going to be missed I continued on to Belmont Lake State Park. When I got there a couple of birders were there and upon inquiring if they had seen the Greater White-fronted Goose, I learned they had not. About 20 minutes after I had arrived, I spotted a Greater White-fronted Goose way in the back up against the Island hidden in between Canada Geese. Later on, I found a second Greater White-fronted. By then other birders had begun to arrive and with them were my friends Shai Mitra and Pat Lindsay. One birder earlier had tried to get us on a Cackling Goose, but we could not find it and he kept losing it. Shai, quickly found the Cackling Goose and got us all on the bird. Leaving Belmont, I diverted to another location to get some friends on a couple of birds they were looking for.

After completing that run successfully, I went for my second target bird, the Lapland Longspur that was seen at Floyd Bennett Field. When I got to Floyd Bennett, I headed for the cricket field and did a thorough search, but all I came up with were 36 Canada Geese, one of which had a banded orange collar (I have requested and awaiting information on the banded bird). From the cricket field I decided to check out the boat ramp for Gulls.

After spending some time with the Gulls and enjoying a brief respite, I headed back to the cricket field. There I met Karlo Mirth, who you might remember from the Golden Plover post last summer. Karlo indicated that it appeared a flock of Snow Buntings had just flown onto the field. After thanking Karlo, I grabbed my gear and proceeded to scope the field. These turned out not to be Snow Buntings; instead, I counted a flock of about 48 Horned Larks as well as not one, but two Lapland Longspurs. After a while I left Karlo and his wife to enjoy the flock. It was time to move on and I was feeling quite pleased as I had just gotten target bird number 2.

There is a Mew Gull in this group. Can you find it?

The last stop in my itinerary was to go after the BrooklynMew Gull. Having had the bird the first day it was found, I had dipped on it on New Year’s Day, but I was feeling lucky. I was hoping not only to see it, but to get some additional photos, since my initial photos were taken amidst rain and wind. I got to the location where the bird was seen and after about 10 minutes, I located the bird within a flock of Ring-billed Gulls. I was able to observe and photograph the bird despite the flock being flushed several times by dog walkers and bikers. I was also able to get a couple of birders from NJ on the bird. This was one of those days that will be hard to duplicate in the field. 3 target birds and I got them all. Now that there is a report of a possible Mew Gull in NJ, I thought of posting more photos of the Mew Gull in Brooklyn that might help as a field reference. Click on the images for a larger view. Enjoy!

Comparison head shot of the Mew Gull vs a Ring-billed Gull

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noflickster said...

Wow, phenomenal Mew Gull shots!

forestal said...

Sounds like a great day birding, and some great pictures



@noflickster - Thanks Mike, I could not have asked for a more cooperative gull.


@forestal - Thanks Dan, it was one of those rare days when things come together as far as birding is concerned.