Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Start of the Big Year! Part 2

The day continued with a stop in St. George to look for the Cape May warbler, which Isaac hasn't reported in a few days.  After five minutes of searching without luck we decided it was time to move along.  Next stop was Ft. Capidano Blvd to see if any crossbills were around.  Of course, the other target along this road was Staten Island's countable population of wild turkey.  These were easily seen as we passed Midland Ave.  Unfortunately, Midland Beach remains closed due to Sandy damage, so we were only able to very the pines from sidewalk.  Continuing with out lack of luck starting with the warbler, we did not find any crossbills.  They have been around lately, so I'm sure we'll come across some sooner or later.  Our consultation prize were red-breasted nuthatches.

Great Kills Park and some "tundra birds" were next on the list. Much to our delight, a mixed flock of snow bunting and horned lark were grazing in stripe between the parking lot and Buffalo St.  Thankfully, we were able to sit in the warm car while we scanned through the flock for any longspur which may also be mixed into a flock.  After a few minutes we notice that there were two additional flocks of tundra birds on the lawn around the play ground.  Finally, we got out of the car and scanned these flocks as well.  Still no longspur, heading on to the salt flats...

Many gulls and ducks were sitting in the exposed tidal zone and Dave and Mike located a single killdeer on the peat beds.  We had been hoping for tree swallows Dave and I saw on Saturday, but they didn't seem to be around on Tuesday.  We did find a distance northern gannet flying out over the Raritan Bay.

The day ended with meeting back up with Isaac for a scan of the Raritan Bay from Page Ave.  After scoping the bay for a while we took a walk through some nearby woods.  As we stood at the edge of a wetland listening for any birds calling in the twilight, Isaac got us on the whistling of a woodcock's wing as it performed a poorly timed display flight.  This signaled species number 64 and the last new bird for the January 1st Big Day.   Not a bad number to start the big year, and leaves some winter species to look for until spring migrants start showing up in about two months time.  Let's see what surprises the winter holds... 

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