Sunday, September 23, 2012

Getting back to the Montauk Circuit

The Township of East Hampton, where we (mostly) live, is a truly beautiful spot and actually does get a fair number of good birds.  It is not known for its migrants however, and exists in a bit of a 'migrant shadow' especially in the Spring.  While we do get some migrants in the Fall, I suspect you could see four times the diversity of species in any given day by heading to say Central Park.  As the season turns though, and Winter birds (and late migrants) start to join the mix, our area gets a lot more interesting, and it starts to be worthwhile to get out and check all the nooks and crannies.  The historical list of rarities is a long one and hey, you just never know ...

Inspired by reports of Western Kingbirds and Northern Wheatears on similar dates in prior years, I did spend a fair amount of time in the Montauk (in East Hampton Township) area this weekend.  While birding was generally quiet, Michael Duffy and I slogged away and managed to winkle out a few things.  Seawatching was reasonably productive with Manx and Great Shearwaters seen from shore, a few sea duck, and the odd seasonal mix of Common Terns and Northern Gannets feeding together.  I also had two Parasitic Jaegers chasing terns at the Point in Saturday, and there are still some Forster's Terns about.  Still no Brown Pelican though, looks like that might be my 'bogey bird' for the year.

On the shorebird front, an American Golden-Plover at Rita's Stable was a surprise among the Killdeers.  The change of ownership at Deep Hollow Ranch has unfortunately resulted in the removal of the feed lot (which was good for blackbirds) and the associated 'cow puddles' (which were good for shorebirds) so diversity has been low this Summer in Montauk.  This was my first and only 'grasspiper' in Montauk itself this year.

American Golden-Plover with Killdeer (and fence lines)
On the land bird side we had 12 Bobolinks, an Indigo Bunting, 12 species of warblers (including Bay-breasted), and a Philadelphia Vireo.  Not a bad haul for passerine-poor Montauk and the vireo even posed for a few photos....

Philadelphia Vireo - the first 'good' one I've seen this Fall Out East.

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