Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Northern Lapwing Twitch Nets Brewer's Blackbird and Other Goodies on Long Island NY...

I had just left Alley Pond Park in Queens, when I picked a up a post about two Northern Lapwings found in by Jorn Ake in one of the pastures at the Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk LI. I immediately began to think about twitching the birds. For those readers not familiar with the term, "twitching" it is a type of action from a birder who responds with frenzied activity to news of rarities in his or her region; the twitcher, will usually end up spending large amounts of money and travel long distances at short notice in order to see a rarity or new bird.  I don't consider myself a bona-fide twitcher, but I do love a good chase especially when it comes to shorebirds.

First group of birders to get on the Northern Lapwings on Sunday November, 11th
A plan to drive up to Montauk, the same night fell through as I filled up on gas too late. So, I decided that I was going to twitch the bird in the morning. Calls/texts to a few Queens birders trying to energize and recruit more people for the chase did not bear fruition and so I made the run alone the next morning. Around 8:00 a.m. I pulled into Montauk; near Rita's Stable, I saw birders, Anthony Collerton and Michael McBrien with his dad pulled over on the side of the road. I checked in with them and learned that the Lapwings were not yet seen, but then Michael informed me that he thought he had just seen a Brewer's Blackbird. I inquired about photos and Anthony showed me a somewhat obscured photo. I saw, a female like blackbird that when I blew it up and studied it for a bit, I thought it looked like a good case for a Brewer's Blackbird, the bill was nothing like either a female Cowbird or Rusty Blackbird. The eye was dark and although I was wary of a juvenile, I was intrigued. Later on as we enjoyed my first look at the Lapwings I returned to the topic of Brewer's Blackbird and encouraged Michael to writeup a report on the bird. I was that confident that he, Michael, had the ID correct.

Northern Lapwing at Montauk LI
But enough of the Brewer's Blackbird for now, my target was Northern Lapwings and so I joined several birders as we canvassed and searched one of the pastures near Deep Hollow Ranch. After about 30 minutes, a birder, Jim Ash, who had left us to expand his search re-found the Lapwings in a pasture behind the Theodore Roosevelt County Park. There was a mad dash as all of us there hopped into our vehicles and hurried over to the Theodore Roosevelt County Park parking lot. We had to hike up a path through a field and wind our way down a cattle path and then behind some paddocks, we lined up and quickly got our scopes on the Lapwings.

Lapwings are large plovers with rounded wings; Northern Lapwings breed all across northern and central Eurasia. They winter south to far northern Africa, Middle East, and southern Asia. Vagrancy occurs on the Atlantic coast of Canada and northeastern USA with some records scattered throughout West Indies from Bahamas to Barbados. This was a very special bird for me and another shorebird that I added to my growing "rare" shorebird sightings for the year.

Brewer's Blackbird at Rita's Stables in Montauk LI
Later on, Jim Ash came through again as he re-found the Brewer's Blackbird, which had returned to Rita's Stables and many of us got to study the bird. I obtained several photographs and video and the conclusion was that this was a solid ID. A terrific pick from Micheal McBrien, as this was a bird that could easily be overlooked. Besides the Lapwings and Brewer's Blackbird, I was able to see and document several other good birds for day. They included, 1 Cackling Goose, a very good candidate for a Dusky Goose, 5 Greater-white fronted Geese and at least 14 White-winged Crossbills. It was an awesome day of birding out on Long Island and proves that twitching can be quite productive if done right with a bit of luck thrown in!! Here are some photos.

Greater White-fronted Geese with Canada Geese

Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing

Brewer's Blackbird

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Anthony Collerton said...

Thanks for the really great Brewer's shots. I wish more NYC birders would come out more often (and find more goodies for us) ....


AC - this is the time of the year when many of the serious birders prowl around your area. You will see many of them around now and later into the winter.

BTW, Tom and I along with Gail, John and Kirsten did spend some time later in the afternoon looking for that reported Myiarchus, but came up short. I think by this weekend something else will show up. Stay fueled and ready!

Phil said...

Nice twitch and good shots - here in the UK the Lapwing isn't doing too well.

Tim Ward said...

Great blog dude ... you have a new follower!

Fascinated by a twith for Northern Lapwings ... they're very common over here in the UK but there again we will travel to see a Pacific Golden Plover or a Pectoral Sandpiper!

Keep up the good work!

Tim@Timbobaggins Abroad

Cindy said...

I was in NM at the Sandhill Crane Festival when I heard about the Lapwing.. I thought..hmm.. It will be in Andrew's blog.. You are a bona fide twitcher to me!