Wednesday, March 3, 2010

3 for 3 - Tufted Duck, Ivory Gull and Northern Hawk Owl...

Driving in blizzard like conditions

It is always a treat getting really good birds. Even better, is when you get to share them with people that you enjoy being around. I did just that with another Northern trip to the Adirondacks. This time, with my dear friends Shai Mitra and Patricia Lindsay. Also in the group was Joan Quinlan a long time birder from LI who I got to know a bit better and is quite a delight. It all started with a Friday (February 26th) night call that put this trip in motion as Shai asked if I was up for another north bound expedition. It did not take long for me to respond in the affirmative and I was packing within minutes of our conversation. Coincidentally, I had thought about an upstate run, but the storm that came in on Friday put my decision on hold; however, with the storm clearing up rather quickly, coupled with warmer temperatures, Shai's timing was perfect.

Around 7:45 AM the next day, Shai, Pat and Joan picked me up and we were off. Our target birds were Tufted Duck, Ivory Gull and Northern Hawk Owl in no order. The ride was not bad at all, despite hitting some patches where it felt like we were in the middle of a blizzard. As we made our way northward bound, we were checking updates on the whereabouts of each of our target birds; based on intelligence and location, we decided to go for the Tufted Duck first at Ausable Road.

Digiscoped shot of the Tufted Duck

Within minutes after stopping at Ausable Road, Shai had the bird in his scope and got us all on it. The views, while good enough for an ID was not the greatest, so we relocated to another spot. At the other location the view was better even though the duck was still way out; Shai, was again quick to get on the Tufted Duck and got us all on the bird. We had good looks and ended up spending some time helping other birders, to get on the bird. Then, it was time to move on, with Tufted Duck ticked off – it was 1 down and two more to go.

We helped many birders to get on the Tufted Duck

We grabbed a quick bite for the road, which included coffee and headed over for the second target bird, the Ivory Gull. Along the way, we did a slow drive, pass the location of the Northern Hawk Owl, but did not see the bird; instead we got on a Northern Shrike, (spotted by Pat) which was another good trip bird.

Ivory Gull at Rouses Point

After arriving at the location of the Ivory Gull at Rouses Point, it took just a few minutes before we spotted the bird at the far edge of the ice. It was just sitting and could easily be missed with its color blending into the icy background. Shai and I decided to walk along the jetty a bit to get a better angle and view. After getting further out onto the jetty where other birders had congregated, the Ivory Gull as if on cue decided to put on a show. It flew over the jetty and landed where the fishermen had setup to do their ice fishing and pecked away at what turned out to be a live fish. The gull then flew back over the jetty passing very near us for spectacular looks. It was hard leaving that location, but after awhile we did.

I spy with my little eye a Northern Hawk Owl

While putting our gear away, I picked up a message that the Northern Hawk Owl was spotted at the location we had driven by earlier. We headed back there and kept our streak alive by picking up the Hawk Owl. We were 3 for 3 getting all our target birds. We had spectacular looks at the Hawk Owl and I got a better chance to watch it fly and hunt over the fields. It was really very special. 3 for 3, was way above our expectations and we were ecstatic. That night, we celebrated over a lovely dinner at, Anthony’s Restaurant & Bistro, toasting to a successful day of birding with excellent company.

Celebrating over dinner

The next day, due to our success we decided that we no longer needed to stay the extra day, which we had contemplated if needed. We were confident that we had ample time to pick up other species as we birded on the way back home. Our positive approach worked out just right. A stop at Bigelow road nabbed us several Boreal Chickadees, Purple Finches and Pine Siskins. As if that was not enough we picked up Evening Grosbeaks at feeders in Long Lake, capping a spectacular weekend run. Once again, Gray Jays, proved elusive, but based on reports these birds have not been reported consistently and how could we feel bad after going 3 for 3 on our target birds. The ride back home was entertaining with great conversation and lots of laughter. It brought back for me fond memories of the NYSOA trip with Shai and Pat. This was a terrific trip with awesome birds made even better with the excellent company; I can’t wait for my next road trip with this crew.

Below is our complete species list along with additional photos from our trip.

American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Robin
Black Duck
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
Boat-tailed Grackle
Boreal Chickadee
Brown Creeper
Canada Goose
Canvasback Duck
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Common Raven
Coopers Hawk
Dark-eyed Junco
Downy Woodpecker
European Starling
Evening Grosbeak
Fish Crow
Great Blue Heron
Greater Scaup
Hairy Woodpecker
Herring Gull
House Finch
House Sparrow
Ivory Gull
Lesser Scaup
Mourning Dove
Mute Swan
Northern Cardinal
Northern Flicker
Northern Hawk Owl
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Shrike
Pileated Woodpecker
Pine Siskin
Purple Finch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-necked Duck
Rock Dove’
Song Sparrow
Tufted Duck
Turkey Vulture
White-breasted Nuthatch
White-throated Sparrow
Wild Turkey

Tufted Duck

Ivory Gull

Northern Hawk Owl

Northern Hawk Owl

Boreal Chickadee

Evening Grosbeaks at feeders

Evening Grosbeaks

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noflickster said...

What a great trip, and awesome photos! Congrats on the trifecta. Next year let's plan on doing that in MA for the Superbowl - without the blizzard-like conditions, preferably.


@noflickster - Hi Mike thanks. If things had worked out like we had hoped, we would have had Ivory + Thayers. We should put in our request to Chris early ;)

It was certainly precarious driving in blizzard like conditions. Thank goodness we made it safely through those patches.

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Quite a nice list of birds for this trip. Really enjoyed the photos. I would love to see a Northern Hawk Owl. Beautiful!

forestal said...

Great list of birds and nice shots. Sounds like a fun trip