Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Western Kingbird

After a long day standing in the sun at the annual Sneak Peak event at Freshkills, I was ready to go home, shower and relax for the evening.   I got up to the second step in my plan (the shower) and as I walked into my bedroom to finishing drying off and put clothing on I hear my e-mail alert chime on my phone.  So, I tap in my password, hit the mail app, and see the title of the new e-mail, "Western Kingbird at mt loretto" from Dr. Veit.  At first I was half surprised that Dr. Veit went out after being at Sneak Peak all day, but then again, he always seems to have boundless energy.  Neglecting to brush my hair, I pulled on a tee-shirt, shorts and sandals...and off I went.

Western kingbird, Staten Island, NY
December 5, 2010
While western kingbird is not a "life bird" or even a "Staten Island (life) bird", it is still a great species to see on Staten Island!  This bird would be my second western kingbird on Staten Island, my first record being a bird that I found at the corner of Hylan Blvd and Sprague Ave on December 5, 2010 (photo below).

So, back to the afternoon in question.  Upon arriving at Mt. Loretto in the fading light, I quickly parked and jumped out of the car.  Up the road I ran to the spot we call the "Sparrow Bowl".   I looked around for about ten minutes, but the bird was no where to be seen.  Feeling slightly anxious, I started to walk up the road towards the bluffs. Looked around the field and there was no sign of the Western kingbird. I then spent about 25 minutes looking around the upper part of the field and started to feel dejected. So I decided to slowly walk back down the road towards the park. Looking up into the tallest tree near the Sparrow Bowl, I saw a bird perched at the top of the tree. I quickly put my binoculars to my eyes and saw the bright yellow belly of the Western kingbird. My friend Mike text message me at that time and asked if I had found the bird. "It's here it's here", I replied and looked down the road towards the parking lot and saw Mike come quickly running to where I stood. We both got on the bird and pulled out our cell phones to try for digi-bin photos.  After a few minutes of getting passable photographs we decided it was time to leave.  CHECK!

The next day, I left school a little earlier than usual and returned to Mt Loretto where Tom Brown reported the bird was again at the Sparrow Bowl. Tom and two undergrad students had the bird in their scopes.  I joined them for a while and finally Tom left.  Since it was evening and a bunch of common nighthawks had been seen during the previous week, I thought it would be a good idea to hang around in hopes a nighthawk would come flying by.  After a half-hour or so, luck paid off and a single nighthawk came flying over the fields... another year-bird!  Overall, it was a great two days and I got two good year birds!

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