Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Day Long Island and Bronx Birding...

Despite having overslept a tad bit and missing the Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) by minutes before it flew out from its roosting spot near the Police Docks it favors in Huntington Harbor. It turned out to be a rather good day of "ground and pound". Just what I needed to start out the New Year. In the end I did connect with the "tuff duck" thanks to some keen spotting by Gail Benson and shockingly managed a decent photo of the said subject.

A run out to the Bronx to check in on the reliable Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) at Van Cortlandt Park did not pan out - so much for "reliability".   Nevertheless, I had lots of fun birding out there and picked up a number of year birds including my first Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) of the Bronx. A query in eBird did not produce any records of LALO in the Bronx, but I am not sure if I mucked up my query or "older" sightings of Lapland Longspur have just not made it into the eBird database.  In any case, I was quite happy to find the Longspur on the Parade Grounds at Van Cortlandt Park, feeding with a flock of 21 Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris). Here are just a few photos from the day's highlights, including a spiffy looking Kumlien's type Iceland Gull that was seen in the West End II Parking Lot at Jones Beach. In all I ended the day with 80 species.

Tufted Duck at Huntington LI.

Horned Larks and Lapland Longspur @ Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx NY.

Lapland Longspur (Right bird) Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx NY

Adult Iceland Gull (Kumlien's?) at Jones Beach West End II parking lot.
Adult Iceland Gull (Kumlien's?) at Jones Beach West End II parking lot.

Adult Iceland Gull (Kumlien's?) (center) at Jones Beach West End II parking lot.

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Dawn Fine said...

A Good showing for your first day of the year! Happy New Year Dude of the Birds!

Chris said...

Andrew, I'm sure there have been many sightings of Lapland Longspur in The Bronx--we've had several just in Van Cortlandt Park.

My first Lapland Longspurs (two individuals) were seen on the Parade Ground on October 26th, 1993. Observed at close distance (they were very unwary). Yolanda Garcia went back there exactly one year later, and found two females.

And one was seen on the Bronx-Westchester CBC in 2007 (again on the Parade Ground), by me and several other observers--along with 50 Snow Buntings. There was another in Read Sanctuary, and these were the first Lapland Longspurs on the count since 1974. I'm sure there would be many more reported sightings if the Parade Ground was birded more often.

The Parade Ground, as you already know, is unpredictable at this time of year. You can find nothing but the usual birds for days or even weeks, and then get Longspurs, Pipits, Horned Larks, Snow Buntings--you just never know. They range around in winter, and the odds of getting them on the day of the CBC are never good, particularly since it's impossible to hang around there all day. Might show up in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening.

Anyway, it was a really good find, and by no means a common bird in The Bronx in any winter (fall is more likely), but not a first. I don't have the VCP checklist handy--is it not on there? Ought to be. Thanks for the great report.