Friday, January 4, 2013

Plus 6

My first "year bird" today was a cooper's hawk chasing pigeons and starling around St George while I was taking a smoke break at work.   Feeling the urge to get out this afternoon, I left work a little early and headed off to Great Kills Parks.  My goals were to check for Lapland longspur among the flocks of snow bunting and horned lark and scan the scaup flock in hopes of relocating a female black scoter which was seen yesterday.

As I drove down Buffalo St, a pair of turkey vultures came gliding across the road, check!  From the parking lot I could see the big flocks of bunting and lark wheeling around the field near the play ground.  After zipping up and getting my gloves on, it was time to start scanning.  The first few passes through the flocks reveled only bunting and larks, but on the other side of the field I saw another birder with his binoculars so I started off towards him.  Scanning the flocks resumed after a few minutes of chatting, and within moments there it was, my year longspur!  See the below photo of the longspur mixed into snow bunting.

Once I got the other birder on the longspur, it was time to get moving on.  Checking my phone, I saw a missed call from Isaac Grant, so I returned the call.  Isaac was at Snug Harbor looking at a small group of american pipits and I told him of the longspur to which to responded that he'd be heading down to look for it.  Wanting to hang with Isaac (and his scope), I decided to check the flock of scaup.  Carefully scanning the scaup flock came up short of scoter but there was another duck, a much lighter color and slightly larger hen of some sort.  She turned and lifted her head, then tucked her head under wing and I saw the classic profile of a canvasback!   Also, while standing at the salt flats, I found a ruddy turnstone picking around the rocks.

Still having some time to kill before Isaac arrived, I thought it would be a good chance to head to Crooke's Point to see if I could find either field sparrows or yellow-rumped warbler.  After few minutes of pishing and walking the dunes, a yellow-rumped warbler came popping up, but I was getting cold and started off the car.  Field sparrows are cool, and a year bird, but not having frost-bitten fingers is better.

Finally, Isaac arrived and we quickly relocated the longspur and headed to the salt flats for a closer look at the scaup flock in one last effort of the black scoter.  Unfortunately, even with the Kawa scope we didn't find the scoter, but Isaac got his year canvasback, sanderling, turnstone, and gannet.

From Great Kills, Isaac and I headed to Page Ave where there wasn't too much activity as we parted ways.  Six new year birds today!  Not a bad haul for the afternoon.

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