Sunday, November 4, 2012

Flame-colored Tanager, or Streak-backed Oriole, or Not ....

So bit of excitement today.  I just got back from a another fruitless and chilly sea watch at Sammy's Beach when the phone rang and an Upstate Birder (I'm withholding names for reasons that will become obvious) told me about a sighting of a FLAME-COLORED TANAGER near Buffalo.  Now that's a pretty amazing bird in New York but my source said they'd been to the feeders where the bird was being seen and that it looked good to the folks there this morning.

So I got on the phone with American Express and tried to find a flight that would get me there today.  Gasoline shortages have been a huge issue on Long Island so I figured that flying and renting a car might be a good choice but it soon became obvious that there just weren't any good flights for any reasonable amount of money.  So I resolved to drive, quickly packed a bag, and headed out to the car.  As I was opening the door I got a text from Greg Lawrence which referred to an unidentified Tanager that looked potentially good.  That stopped me in my tracks and I picked up the phone and called Greg. While the information was confused, that confusion gave me pause and I decided to wait and see if the bird was seen and photographed before committing to an 11-hour drive to Buffalo.

I put out more feelers and soon information was coming in.  The first major bit of news was that photographs had been distributed and that the bird had been "re-identified" as a STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (!).  Now that's a pretty amazing bird for New York too, although a bird that could also potentially be an escapee as they are kept as cage birds in some areas.  Still, I was thinking that if the bird was confirmed, then Streak-backed Oriole was still something worth the long drive and I still planned to head out sometime after midnight.

And then, the news changed again.  This time when a wave of Buffalo and Rochester birders made it to the site and discovered that the bird was just a BALTIMORE ORIOLE (albeit a very, very orange one).

Flame-colored Tanager / Streak-backed Oriole / Baltimore Oriole
Photograph by Willie D'Anna (used with permission)
So I am *very* glad that I didn't spent a ton of money on a plane, car rental, hotel etc.  I'm also very glad that I didn't drive 11-hours to Buffalo.  But it was exciting for a few hours .....

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