Saturday, June 3 - Brooklyn and Queens Counties
The day actually didn't start in Brooklyn or Queens, but rather in Somerset County, New Jersey where I chased, and disastrously dipped a LESSER NIGHTHAWK. I don't often leave New York State when I'm birding locally but if I do it's usually because a bird catches my interest and sticks in my mind. This bird did just that, originally identified as a Common Nighthawk and posted on-line, then re-identified as (New Jersey's Second ever record of) a Lesser Nighthawk by Ben Barkley, the bird was subsequently found to have been picked-up and re-habbed locally a few days earlier, before being released nearby. Once free though, it settled into a nice pattern of sitting on a rail fence or along a gravel path at Lord Sterling Park allowing lots and lots of local birders to see and photograph it during its week long stay. I got there early on Saturday after a rough drive where the Land Rover's navigation system was totally overwhelmed by the road-spaghetti that is Northern New Jersey, sending me the wrong way several times and even directing down a one-way street the wrong way at one point. Oh and it was raining when I got there, and oh, the bird seemed to have departed during the night never to be seen again. Not a good start to the day.
As I pulled into the reserve parking lot I picked up and email saying that Tim Healy had just had a Least Bittern at Big John's Pond, so off I went, hoping for the Bittern and perhaps a glimpse of the resident Barn Owls ... I saw neither. Back to the West Pond where my spirits picked up when two year birds - a Gull-billed Tern and a Tricolored Heron flew into view within minutes of each other. Back to being in a good mood and, after checking some other local coastal spots, I called it a day.
The long anticipated Pelagic Trip out to the Hudson Canyon was cancelled due to weather. No South Polar Skua for my New York list this year.
Saturday, June 10 - Suffolk County
Cupsogue again at dawn and I opted to take the shorter, calf-deep stinky mud route out to the flats .... just as gross as I remembered it. The morning did produce a nice clutch of year birds though with Black Tern, Royal Tern, and Seaside Sparrow all joining the year list.
I also checked Mecox Inlet twice that day, hoping for a recently seen Black-necked Stilt. While that bird was a no show, I did see four Lesser Black-backed Gulls, more Royal Terns and a nice mix of terns and shorebirds.
|Common Tern, one of 7 species of terns seen over the weekend and the only|
one close enough for a decent photo ...
Back at Cupsogue again for the early tide but this time a quick sea-watch proved productive with four Wilson's Storm-Petrels close to shore (I know, Brian Patterson had a Swinhoe's Storm-Petrel in North Carolina this weekend, but I was still happy to see any Storm-Petrel given that our boat trip got cancelled). The flats were also lively with more Royal Terns, Roseate Terns and some nice scope views of an adult Arctic Tern. When I first moved to New York, Arctic Terns were almost never reported from the state other than on pelagic trips; now they are seen annually at various tern loafing spots along Long Island. This doesn't seem to be a case of a change of distribution as much as a case of more observers being better at picking them up - better birders, better optics. This bird was of course the reason I went to Cupsogue three times, so I was glad to finally get one. Now the focus shifts to finding a Sandwich Tern!
|Great and Snowy Egrets at Three-Mile Harbor in East Hampton|
Thursday, June 15 - Nassau County
There had been two Black-necked Stilts at Jones Beach for the previous two weeks ... a bit of a rarity in New York and a county bird (and state year bird) for me. I was there at 6:00am, just in time to see a helicopter spray the area for mosquitos and flush every bird for miles around, and again at 3:00pm. Not a stilt to be seen .... hopefully not slipping back into a dipping phase ....
Saturday, June 17 - Out of Town
And while I was out of town, a BROWN BOOBY was found at Nickerson Beach in Nassau County .... argh! This species is now a good candidate for my official New York State nemesis bird given the number of times I've missed it in the state. I was 450 miles to the West when it was found and briefly considered driving back overnight to be there at dawn to see it. In the end I was just too tired to do that safely so gave up, and was glad I did as the bird was found dead the next morning. To drive eight hours to see a dead Booby would not have been a fun thing.....
To be continued ....