Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Common Ground-Dove

My only previous Fork-tailed Flycatcher was one in Morrisville PA in early June 2006, seen right after my "flycatcher special" trip of May-June 2006. I got no photos of that bird, so I was interested in seeing and photographing the one that was up in Stamford CT. Usually a one or two day wonder (as with the PA bird) the FTFL in CT was found Weds and stayed through at least Sunday at Cove Island Park in Stamford (edit: found on Nov 17th, it stayed all the way through Dec 4th - remarkable). I saw it on early Sat morning where it was already drawing a crowd at dawn. The volunteer gathering names said that birders had come from as far away as SC and MI for it. Other birds at this place included a small flock of Cedar Waxwings and a similar-sized flock of Monk Parakeets.

Stamford is not that far beyond NY, so after a couple of hours with the FTFL I went down to Jones Beach. The wind was quite strong at that point, so I didn't see much of note from the Coast Guard basin (Common Loon, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser) but the flock of Snow Buntings was feeding on the grass growing up in the cracks of the West End 2 parking lot. I went on to Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center and found my target bird - the
Loggerhead Shrike - hunting from perches on and around the boardwalk and not particularly phased by the conditions. Considering that I've also seen Northern Shrike in Duluth MN in late December the conditions were almost tropical by comparison. The bird was a first winter one with faint barring on the breast. Two Northern Harriers were the only other predators I saw there, and there were some American Black Ducks and Gadwall in the pond between West End 2 and the Nature Center but otherwise things appeared pretty quiet. Inevitably there were Brant in the West End median strip and I also saw a fly-by flock of Dunlin.

Subsequent queries about the ID of the shrike species led to a discussion on NYSbirds-L and ultimately BIRDWG01 where it emerged that the consensus was strongly in favor of Loggerhead over Northern Shrike. While this is atypical of a Loggerhead it has too many features at variance with Northern Shrike to be consistent with it. Loggerhead is if anything even less expected than Northern in that location at this time of year.

And then since I was so close I went a little further east to Captree State Park. I wasn't really that psyched about the Common Ground-Dove but I'd been told it was a first NY State record so I went for a quick look for it. I found it skulking on the northern edge of the southern parking lot, mostly behind the concrete blocks in the parking lot, but it showed chestnut wing undersides as it flew. Very skittish that bird, and for that reason I decided not to hang out for photos and stress it more. Instead I headed for home.

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