Saturday, September 15, 2012

A tale of two Godwits ...

Anyone with the misfortune to be near me when I'm in a griping mood recently knows that Brown Pelican and Hudsonian Godwit have been my Summer bogey birds.  More so the godwit because of a series on near-misses, where I've rushed West along Long Island only to arrive just after a group of short-staying Hudwits has flown the coop.  Not that I haven't put in the time; I've scanned for them at Jamaica Bay, Jones Beach and Cupsogue (all historical sites) every week, often several times.

This week, it looked as though I'd missed my last shot at the species, when two birds that had stopped for a day at Montezuma NWR moved on before I could get there.  Still, ever optimistic (despite the griping) I kept scanning likely spots on Long Island almost daily.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

At Jones Beach this morning there were quite a lot of shorebirds, and detailed scanning through the morning produced a good selection including a BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, 2 Western Sandpipers, a Pectoral Sandpiper, and a MARBLED GODWIT.  The last bird was hidden, sleeping, among the Willets and just appeared (as if by magic) when the birds reshuffled under Peregrine attack.  The bird also flushed as others, including Greg Lawrence and Gary Chapin were rushing over to get a look - I could see the bird flying West and frantically jumped up and down making exaggerated pointing gestures, but to no avail.  Always good to get a Godwit, but unfortunately, the wrong one again, and even that one didn't stay long.

While we were watching the shorebirds, Derek Rogers texted me a photo of a Clay-colored Sparrow, so a group of us headed over to Robert Moses SP to see if we could find that bird.  After a couple of minutes of searching, Gary Chapin picked up the bird, and we all got good looks - another Suffolk County year bird for me.  A pleasant day, with some decent birds but, wanting to rest before that night's pelagic trip, I departed happy, and slogged my way into the City through miserable Saturday traffic.

Clay-colored Sparrow
Almost as soon as I got in through my door, the phone rang.

"Hi, it's Greg" said Greg Lawrence.
"You're going to kill us, but we're at Jamaica Bay, and we have a Hudsonian Godwit."

So back to the car, which the bemused garage attendant had just put away for the night at the back of the building.  Back into traffic, which of course was horrible, and off to Jamaica Bay.  While I was on the road Andrew Baksh, Tom Burke, Derek Rogers, and Corey Finger all called.  They wanted to make sure I knew about the bird (which was really nice) but each call also ramped up the stress level so that I was positively frothing at the mouth by the time I finally broke free of traffic after almost an hour of bumper-to-bumper crawling, and pulled into the reserve HQ.

I needn't have worried though, after a quick walk/jog over to The Raunt, I found Greg, Gary, Tom, etc. all quietly watching the bird, which looked happy and settled.  HUDSONIAN GODWIT (NYS 2012 #338)!

Hudsonian Godwit (distant iPhone shot)
Then back to the City, through horrible traffic for a quick nap, before heading back out to Long Island at 10:30pm tonight for the Pelagic.  No rest for the wicked ...

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