Monday, November 26, 2012

You Win Some, You Lose Some - Painted Bunting in Queens

So after the Dovekie euphoria on Saturday thoughts turned to Derek Rogers' Pacific Loon.  His photos were not conclusive; in some the bird looked really positive, in others not so much, but in all the photos the bird was distant, tiny, and blurry.  So on Sunday I did spend three hours at Montauk looking for the Loon (and other things that might be around).  No luck at all and, as always seems to happen just after I got home I got a call from Andrew Baksh who was looking at a Painted Bunting in Alley Pond Park in Queens (!).  The bird had been found by Eric Miller (who can apparently whisper Buntings as well as Warblers) and was still very much in view as we spoke.  Problem was that I'd agreed to meet Ryan at the Airport that afternoon, and had to bring the dogs with me into the city.  I played with all sorts of combinations and permutations of routes and timing before admitting that the bunting would have to wait for another day.  Wrong place, wrong time twice in two days ....

So at dawn on Monday I was winding my way though Queens trying to find a new parking lot (for me) at Alley Pond Park.  The entrance was underneath a highway overpass which made it tough to find on a map but I worked it out, pulled in, and wandered over to join Corey Finger who was staring at a bush.  We were soon joined by about ten other birders and split up, mounting a search of the area where the bird had last been seen.  For the first hour or so there was no sign of the bird but then, as the sun started to warm up, Junko Suzuki got a glimpse and quickly waved everyone over.  After a tense couple of seconds the bird popped up again in a yew tree and a half dozen cameras started whirring away.  PAINTED BUNTING (NYS 2012 #354).

Painted Bunting (4 shots) 

In the bright light, sitting up, the bird was 'goldfinch yellow' while down lower in the bushes it became 'parrot green'.  It could also be surprisingly cryptic when it sat still in green foliage (parrots are bright green too, and really hard to see when feeding in trees).  Eventually however it came out into the open and everyone got the shots they were looking for.

I was feeling pretty good at that moment and so could almost have predicted that the phone would ring with news of another bird elsewhere.  Sure enough, the call was from Derek Rogers to tell me that Tom Johnson and Doug Gochfeld had just reported a Pacific Loon off Montauk Point.  Oh well, maybe it'll stick around a few more days.....

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