The first week of January is a great time to bird, especially when the weather is as good as its been this year. The only problem is that I've had to work, and with college kids off school, and people with more flexible schedules out and about, every day brought word of good species that I couldn't get out and see.
I did grab a few minutes of birding this week - a quick lunch break in a pocket park on 46th Street added a clutch of over-wintering half-hardy species, and a quick morning walk through Central Park added a few more, including an Orange-crowned Warbler. I'd been waiting for Saturday though and planned out an itinerary to hopefully catch up on all the goodies that others had been seeing all week.
Saturday, January 9th - Long Island (Suffolk, Nassau and Queens)
Up early to rush out to Smithtown to try to get to Miller Pond before 8am. A PINK-FOOTED GOOSE had been roosting on the pond the last few days but left fairly early each morning. If I was going to see it, without chasing around all the parks and fields in the area, I needed to be there by 7:30am. Mornings aren't really my friend in the Winter, but I still dragged myself out of bed and into the car in time go get to the lake at 7:40am. The geese were still there (phew!), but distant at the other end of the lake in one of the ice-free areas. Still, I have a killer scope, so I zoomed up to 70x and started working through the flock, quickly finding the bird. There were some other birders nearby, but they were standing above the lake's outlet and couldn't her my shouts above the sound of rushing water. I walked over to let them know I had the bird, gave them directions, and .... none of us could pick it up again. Awkward ....
My birding reputation was saved 10 minutes later by Tim Healey who, borrowing someone else's scope, picked out the bird exactly where I said it was (it must have tucked it's head in for a while). Lots of happy birders and one relieved one, and my 5th ABA Pink-footed Goose, all of which I've seen in Suffolk County.
Next stop was Blydenburgh Park in search of a Red-headed Woodpecker and some other good birds recently reported. The woodpecker isn't super-rare in New York; I see it most years even though we are right on the edge of the species' range. I had however, never seen one in Suffolk County, and embarrassing gap in my home county list, so I was quite keen to get this one. Luckily the bird was super cooperative and gave good views, even if the other recent goodies at the site all refused to show.
|Red-headed Woodpecker - Blydenburgh Park, Suffolk County, NY (two shots)|
|Ross's Goose - Avon Lake, Suffolk County, NY|
|Ross's Goose - Unqua Lake, Nassau County, NY|
|Lark Sparrow - Jones Beach, Nassau County, NY|
So, great day. Dragged the year list to 100 species. More importantly it added 5 County Birds - Cackling Goose, Clay-colored and Lark Sparrows for Queens, Ross's Goose for Nassau, and Red-headed Woodpecker for Suffolk. A very nice day out on the Island.