Friday, October 12, 2012

A wait WEKI for me...

I skipped a planned Nassau County run and decided instead to spend some time in my own county of Queens. A bird was on my mind, Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis), a bird that typically shows up this time of the year in our area and I have been looking for one for a few weeks. A few had already been seen out on Long Island and one did make a pit stop at West End Jones Beach, but alas that day a bunch of us were stuck on a boat waiting for a bridge operator and so that WEKI was missed.

My first stop today was at Plum Beach in Brooklyn, where I was hoping for a Sparrow search only to be foiled by some sort of dredging activity on the beach, which officials felt was too much of a hazard to have the parking lot open and so it was onto Fort Tilden. There, I spent several hours working the gardens and surrounding areas. Then it was onto RIIS Park where I slowly worked my way around the golf course. Despite the overcast conditions and winds there were birds around, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Forster's and Common Terns at Breezy Point Queens
Eventually, I made my way to Breezy Point where at the jetty I spent a considerable amount of time enjoying the few remaining Terns that loafed on the beach. Forster's and few Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) made up the Tern flock. There was not much movement at sea and so after a few hours of watching the Terns on the beach and raptors working the dunes, I made the turn and did the schelp on the bayside back to the Fisherman's Parking Lot.

Now, those who bird with me know that I seldom EVER take non birding phone calls in the field, but sometimes I do make exceptions. Today was one of those days. I had reached my car and began offloading my gear while discussing on the phone with a friend that the day seemed right for a Western Kingbird, when a bird zipped by me; a flash of yellow and the size immediately had me turning and trying to get a lock on what had flown by me. I caught up to the rear end of the bird and then it flew up and did a fly catching move. Hold, on I yelled at my friend at the other end. I put up my bins and had a start, indeed it was a Flycatcher and it looked good for a Western or Cassin's (I like to dream big). I'll call you back, I shouted into the phone and hung up without further explanation.

The bird had dropped out of my sight. I grabbed scope and camera and ran out of the parking lot. Suddenly, there it was again, up and flycatching but in a distance. Get closer I whispered and land...please. As if on queue, the bird dipped, turned and slowly but surely made its way towards me flew over my head and landed in a tree facing the bay. In a flash I had the scope on the bird...I quickly checked for a few diagnostic features, confirming the ID of a Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) and snapped off a few digiscope shots for documentation. Then it was onto getting a post out to the listserves. I had me my Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) and it was time to share!! Oh and I did call my friend back :)

Here are some photos of the Western Kingbird and a Wilson's Snipe from the field.

Western Kingbird at Breezy Point Queens

Western Kingbird at Breezy Point Queens

Wilson's Snipe at Floyd Bennett Field Brooklyn
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Cindy said...

I always love your "Andrew gets his bird" posts :-) I've had three lifers in the past week..common to you I am sure, but exciting for me. Brown Thrasher, Black Chinned Sparrow & Black Poll Warbler..

Julie G. said...

Fantastic! Great find and photographs! What a gorgeous bird. How come when I whisper for a bird to get closer and land they never listen? You must be a bird whisperer.

Leonor Chavez said...

Awsome bird! Thank you for sharing, and it was great taking to you, so much to learn from a bird expert like you. Hopefully I get to see the Western Kingbird if it sticks around JBWR-Gateway area.

Great birding! and thanks again.


Cindy, thanks always for the kind comment. Is this the year we bird together?


Dear Julie, you always have such kind comments for me. P.S. I am always speaking to the birds :) Sometimes they listen to me sometimes I get ignored, but it is all good ;)


Hi Leonor, it was my pleasure meeting you. I really had no idea, I was such an influence, in fact you had me squirming and blushing with your compliments :)

Keep on birding and feel free to send me any questions you may have on bird ID.