Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese in Montauk (NY)

After the Masked and Muscovy Ducks in Texas in November 2007, it seemed only natural to do another crazed road trip to go find the the Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese at the Deep Hollow Ranch in Theodore Roosevelt State Park in Montauk (NY). I saw the Barnacle Goose in the first 30 seconds, but the Pink-footed Goose took more effort - the reward for hiking the trail up the east side of the pasture was that I ran into 25 Red Crossbills in a mobile and vocal flock, and TWO Western Kingbirds perched together on a wire at the northern end of the pasture. The day was remarkably balmy. Both geese were ultimately quite cooperative. There are more pictures at PFGU_2007.html. These were the first Western Kingbirds I've seen in NY state, although they are an annual vagrant - I just haven't ever bothered to "chase" them. I still remain cynical about Barnacle Geese on Long Island, although it's telling that there's another Barnacle Goose at Cape May right now. In a bit of inconsistency, Pink-footed Goose is in my USA list from the PA bird in 2005, but Barnacle Goose is still not included and I really don't want to make it USA #600.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Connecticut Warblers in Central Park (NYC)

This Connecticut Warbler turned up in Central Park on Sept 8th 2007, found by Tony Lance and seen by many (click on icon to see pics). The bird lingered near Hernshead in what was at times a surreal location just behind an amplified guitar player who was "entertaining" an audience on the west shore of The Lake. Apparently oblivious to all the fuss, the Connecticut persisted until late in the day but was not found on subseqent days. This was one of a series of Connecticut Warblers that were to show up in Central Park that fall, including another exceptionally tame one up at Sparrow Ridge (Sept 18-20th) and a more elusive one at Summit Rock (Sept 23rd).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Western Reef-Heron in Brooklyn (NYC)

An exceptionally rare find of a Western Reef-Heron (or if you prefer, Western Reef-Egret) was made by Alex Wilson on July 8th at Dreier-Offerman Park in Brooklyn - now apparently renamed Calvert Vaux park, not that this location would have been appreciated by Mr. Vaux in it's current form. Apparently quite wide-ranging, this bird was also sighted from Staten Island and also from Sandy Hook. It was also not entirely reliable at the Brooklyn location, but nevertheless many people got to see this remarkable rarity. Western Reef-Herons have been cropping up on the east coast over the last few years. There was one in Newfoundland in the summer of 2005. There was one in Nova Scotia from June-August 2006, and another one or the same one in Maine and NH August-Sept. 2006. Apparently prior to this cluster of sightings the only other record was from Nantucket (MA) in 1983. Either we're getting really good at finding Western Reef-Herons or they are getting really good at finding us. The species is apparently closely related to Little Egret (itself very rare in the US) and some authorities consider it a subspecies of that - there appears to be no firm consensus on the situation as of now.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Summer Tanager in Central Park (NYC)

This Summer Tanager was highly cooperative in Central Park on May 13th 2007 - seen at eye level multiple times and also on the ground. The bird appeared to be in molt - the uppertail coverts in particular were both a deep red and also not lying flat. Closer inspection of the photos reveals that one central retrix (R1) was fresh and probably still growing, as well as one or two innermost tertials. The rest of the tail feathers were relatively abraded, as you'd expect. I've decided that this is probably a first spring male, from a combination of factors: the deep red of the undertail and uppertail coverts, the replacement of that central retrix (just the one, although conceivably this could be from damage) and the relatively pointed outermost primaries. Most passerines do not replace their flight feathers (incl. tail feathers) in the pre-alternate molt, although apparently this sometimes happens in hatch year birds (as per Pyle - Identification Guide to North American Birds). Click here for pics.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Curlew Sandpiper at Heislerville WMA (NJ)

This adult male breeding plumage Curlew Sandpiper was at Heislerville WMA in NJ on May 13th 2007, one of at least three that were at that site in spring 2007. This was one of a series of five Curlew Sandpipers seen in southern NJ in May 2007 - three at Heislerville (1 male, 2 females), and ones at Stone Harbor Point and Brigantine NWR. Click here for pics or on the image.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Snowy Owl at Piermont Pier (NY)

Returning to Piermont Pier on Wednesday I found the persistent and relatively tame Snowy Owl in an even more accommodating location only 30 yards off the road devouring yet another unlucky Ruddy Duck. This owl showed the somewhat atypical behavior of plucking Ruddy Ducks from the water, apparently using only one talon, and was quite a success at it too. Click on the icon or click here to see the pics.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ivory Gull at Piermont Pier (NY)

An adult Ivory Gull turned up at Piermont Pier on the Hudson River in NY and on the morning of Feb 26th was pretty cooperative as was the prior celebrity of the area - the Snowy Owl - perhaps an example of the Patagonia Rest Stop effect. The Ivory Gull was feeding on the remnants of a Ruddy Duck that the Snowy Owl had caught. The Ivory Gull however only remained for a couple of days. North American populations of Ivory Gull appear to be in rapid decline (see this article for example) and it is tempting to point the finger at Global Warming given its impact on other Arctic ice-dependent species like the Polar Bear. Increased vagrancy might be an outcome of a fragmenting population, but then this could just be a random vagrant. Preliminary pics, prior to populating the Gallery with the rest of them. Click here to see the pics.