Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Plus 2 Sparrows

Being Monday, my usual birding buddies were at work, so I ventured out for the morning by my lonesome.  With the list of possibilities growing smaller, I thought it would be a good time to hit up some I haven't visited yet this year (week).  My first stop was Mount Loretto Unique Area in Pleasant Plains/Prince's Bay.  The activity was pretty light with just a hand full of song, tree and white-throated sparrows and a few Carolina wrens responding to pishing.  Over the bay there were just brant, black duck, and some buffleheads off shore, so I headed up towards the lighthouse. On the way down the hill, I turned onto the trail to visit the small pond at the base of the hill.  As I pished, a few tree sparrows came flying up but there was also a smaller bird... what could it be?  Focusing my binoculars, I saw the light orange cap and white eye ring of a field sparrow, check!

After checking the small pond, walking over to the ponds along Cummingham Rd, it was time to go and check Wolfe's Pond.  As I scanned the flock of gulls and checked out the single green-winged teal on the pond, a truck came pulling up next to me.  Glancing over I saw it was Jeff Stetson, so I rolled the window down and we chatted for a while.  Once we parted ways, I started off to Great Kills Park to see what was around today.

I thought with the nice weather it would would be a great day for a walk out to Crooke's Point.  The point has always held rarities for those willing to do the walk in winter so I was hoping for something good.  Walking long the edge of the beach and the dune vegetation has a whole new meaning post-Sandy.  The once sharp division between sand and dune plants has been obliterated, and although varying in the distance, the beach sands now reach deep into the once grassy dunes.  Scanning the vegetation also reveled that the wrack-line from Sandy seemed to follow the line of densest thickest of bayberry stand.  It will be interesting to see how the beach restores its self.  Well, back to the birds...

There were numerous yellow-rumped warblers, tree sparrows and cardinals in the dunes, but even more surprising were the dozen or so northern flickers scattered around.  Scanning the bay I saw the usual buffleheads, horned grebes and a red-throated loon, in addition to the expected gulls.  Turning back to the dunes, I walked a few feet down a trail and was a sparrow land in a bayberry about thirty feet away.  Sitting there was another year-bird, a swamp sparrow!     After a little more searching I started back towards the car.  I checked the mud flats and looked through the scaup again, but they all had their heads tucked under wing so I  wasn't able to pull out the black scoter.  Feeling tired and needing a break after a week of being out every day, it was time to head home.   Plus two today, bringing the total to 89.

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