Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Nassau County.

One of the best things about birding is the unexpected, and today New York birders had quite an unexpected treat.

Up late, but seeing text alerts from Central Park with Golden-winged and Tennessee Warblers I jumped on the subway and headed North.  I couldn't find the warblers, and despite the texts, the park was pretty quiet.  Best bird by far was an Eastern Whip-poor-will that has been roosting in the same tree for several days now.  Otherwise, there was a scattering of warblers, but nothing too amazing and I resolved to head back downtown at around 10:45am.

Eastern Whip-poor-will
Just as I was heading out I got a call from Richard Fried.  Joe Guinta had just told him about a second hand report of a FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER at Marine Nature Study Center in Nassau County.  This is a really good bird in New York, but a really difficult bird to chase as most sighting are brief and the notorious nomad usually moves on before many people can see it.  Having said that, you don't look, you don't see, so Richard and I met up and rushed off to pick up his car (nearer than mine) to brave the mid-day traffic and see if we could get there in time.

When we got to Richard's car he briefly entertained the idea of going back to his apartment to pick up his scope, but given this species' reputation as a short-stayer, we thought better of it and headed straight out there.  Forty-five minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot at the Center, walked out onto the boardwalk, and there was the bird.  We were offered quick scope views, I fired off a few distant shots, and then .... a Cooper's Hawk swooped in, and the bird vanished.  If we'd stopped for the scope we'd have missed it.  Phew!  Fork-tailed Flycatcher (NYS 2012 #341).

Fork-tailed Flycatcher (2 shots) 

We stuck around the location for another hour and a half but there was no sign of the bird.  Got to talk to a lot of the New York birders and the number of big names that still needed this species as a State Bird was testament to the short-staying nature of the species.  Feeling really lucky to get this bird.

Update:  the bird was apparently relocated later in the afternoon but on a private golf course nearby.  Access may be an issue but perhaps the bird will stick around for many to see.  Hope so ...

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