Monday, January 5, 2009

Wild Goose Chase - Jan 4th

Barnacle Goose and Pink-footed Goose were in NJ and NYC respectively, which was enough of a lure to make me chase them.

But first I started out locally, visiting Pole Farm briefly to check on the pale phase Rough-legged Hawk which was hunting over the field off the Federal City Rd entrance, but too distant for photos. Then up to northern NJ and DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands to look for the Snowy Owl that seemed pretty reproducible there. About all it took to find it was to walk up to the other birders that were already there at 10am. Northern Harrier and Rough-legged Hawk were also present in this area. Thank God - at this rate I was going to miss all the Snowys during an invasion year, perhaps the best one in quite some time.

Feeling optimistic I skipped across Staten Island quickly, along the Belt and into Flushing Meadows Corona Park where I started scanning Canada Goose flocks to no avail. And driving the wrong way on roadways that were extremely badly signed. Mea culpa. I checked both north and south of the Long Island Expressway and found a few Canada Goose flocks and no Pink-foot. After a while, I gave up on this first version of the wild goose chase and headed back down the Belt. I decided to stop at Floyd Bennett Field to scope for water birds in Jamaica Bay, coming up with the usual suspects: Common Loon, Red-throated Loon, Horned Grebe, Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye. I didn't find a Great Cormorant, however, often quite regular there in winter.

After that, I decided to try for the Western Grebe on the south shore of Staten Island. Thankfully this was a lot more cooperative, being seen well in NY waters from the pier just to the east of Mount Loretto. Also present were several Long-tailed Duck.

Then out of Staten Island by way of the Goethals Bridge and back north to DeKorte Park to see if the Snowy Owl was any closer - in fact it was further away but there were still birders there looking at it. There probably was a slow trickle of coming and going all day.

The light was waning, so I gave up on staking out Northern Shrike at Great Swamp NWR and decided to try for the Barnacle Goose at Califon in NJ towards sunset. Predictably for my karma on Sunday the bird did not come into roost while I was there - I've seen that bird twice in ~8 visits, but there's always more time to look for it and the Canada X Barnacle hybrid that I'm particularly interested in before it leaves in spring.

My year list sits at a modest 43 species, but it's early days yet.

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