A Travellerspoint blog

An Excursion to Hampton Bay, Long Island

Shinnecock Inlet, NY

sunny 28 °F

Today, I made the tremendous trek out to the west side of Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays, NY on far eastern Long Island. It was over three hours there by two subways, two Long Island RR trains, and a short uber ride. Crazy, but it was worth, it — the water birds there were AWESOME, read on!

It was a bright, sunny day but quite cold — this place, which is extremely exposed on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, is known to be quite windy, but today the wind was relatively calm and the waters were wonderfully smooth. Still, I was glad to have four electromagnetic hand warmers — both for my hands and for my feet! Putting these little packets inside your socks and gloves when birding really makes it a more humane experience.

My target birds were Red-necked Grebe, Thick-billed Murre, King Eider, and Black-legged Kittiwake, all of which have been seen here recently and would be prospective life birds. Honestly, I would count myself lucky to get just one.

Upon arriving, it was evident that Harbor Seals were around in abundance! What a treat — can’t remember the last time I saw these.

SANDERLNG on the beach:


Next, I picked out a grebe-like bird with gray wrapping around to its chest and BOOM — I asked a few birders around me for confirmation and I had my life bird RED-NECKED GREBE, a species I have been searching for so tirelessly this year! Awesome!

There were a few very cooperative RED-THROATED LOONS around, as well:

Five WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, the most uncommon scoter species of the three in New York, flew by:

BLACK SCOTERS also appeared in numbers:

And my favorite, the SURF SCOTER!

RAZORBILLS, my first alcid species (puffin, murre, etc) of the day were around and I was happy to see them!

After a couple hours of birding, I was shivering violently so I needed to walk off the jetty and get lunch at the nearby seafood restaurant. On the way, I spotted these DUNLIN on the beach:

Lunch of fish and chips with hot chocolate was delicious and filling!

After I warmed up, I was back at it and saw this COMMON LOON:

Then, one of the birders, Sue F, told me she was looking at a COMMON MURRE and sure enough there it was through her scope! An awesome species I have only seen once before, in Washington state. I was able to snap a few photos, too! VERY uncommon for New York!

This drake LONG-TAILED DUCK showed nicely off the jetty:



Then, I spotted my life bird THICK-BILLED MURRE which seemed to magically appear right alongside the jetty. Yet another New York rarity — I was ecstatic and couldn’t believe my eyes as this bird put on an energetic diving show for us, while also allowing for some photographs:

AWESOME is all I can say — this is probably my most memorable day of birding since I have moved to New York. Bird-of-the-day to the Thick-billed Murre with runners-up to Common Murre, Razorbill, Harlequin Duck, and Red-necked Grebe. So many amazing birds from which to choose!

Good birding,
World Life List: 964 Species (2 life birds today: Red-necked Grebe & Thick-billed Murre)

Posted by skwclar 12:46 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Evening Grosbeak: Fourth Try!

Riverside Park, NYC

sunny 31 °F

After reading a tweet after school that the Evening Grosbeak was reported once again one block away from Manhattan School of Music in Riverside Park, you can bet I was over there in a hot second.

While hiking the Forever Wild trail where it was described to be feeding, I saw this juvenile BALD EAGLE fly over carrying a fish:

Then, after getting a tip from a birder who passed me on the trail I walked up the hill to a tree where there were multiple photographers pointing their cameras toward a tree with brown leaves. They claimed the grosbeak was there, but it literally took me fifteen minutes before I found it because it was so well-hidden! There it was though — the famous male EVENING GROSBEAK of Riverside Park, which is my bird-of-the-day today.

Stay tuned — tomorrow I am headed out to the Hampton Bay on eastern Long Island in hopes of finding my life bird Common Murre, as well as any other noteworthy Alcidae (puffin, murre, razorbill, etc) species that would be prospective life birds.

Good birding,
World Life List: 962 Species

Posted by skwclar 13:48 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Plumb Beach Before School

Brooklyn, NYC

sunny 35 °F

Today, since my teacher cancelled so I didn’t have class until 12:30, I took advantage of the morning and made the commute out to Plumb Beach in Brooklyn in search of my life bird Red-necked Grebe; three of which had been seen there yesterday as reported on the Brooklyn Bird Alert.

This SANDERLING was a delight to see on the beach:

A far-off NORTHERN GANNET hunted over Sheapshead Bay:

COMMON LOONS abounded:



This is the best look I have ever obtained of a RED-THROATED LOON:


Unfortunately, the Red-necked Grebe was MIA, so bird-of-the-day to the Red-throated Loon with the Northern Gannet as runner-up.

Good birding,
World Life List: 962 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Operation Razorbill

Breezy Point, NYC

rain 44 °F

Today before school I visited Breezy Point Tip in Queens to search for my life bird Razorbill (a bird related to the puffins), which have been seen here in numbers recently. It is quite a trek to get out there — 2 subways, a bus, and an uber! The weather conditions were subpar, at best — it was chilly and misting. Read on to see if I found my bird!

As soon as I arrived onto the beach, I could tell that despite the weather, there was a lot of bird activity over the sea — a good sign. These NORTHERN GANNETS were cool to find:

Then, a group of smallish, awkward, penguin-like birds came flying low and fast over the water. Once I gained a view of their unique bills, I knew I had indeed found my life bird RAZORBILLS!!! Success!

More RAZORBILLS flew by:

Drake LONG-TAILED DUCK, the first time I have ever seen this species in its spectacular, truly long-tailed plumage!


There were over 220 SANDERLINGS on the beach, an impressive number for wintertime:

PURPLE SANDPIPER was a nice find on the jetty:

And I loved seeing the uniquely beautiful drake COMMON EIDER within this raft of the species:

GREAT CORMORANTS roosting on a structure at the end of the jetty:



This was my view for the day. Bleak, but peaceful as the wind (for once) was not blowing at a gale force out there.

A YELLOW-RUMPED WARBER on the walk back from the beach was nice:

And a surprisingly-late FIELD SPARROW was another very cool find!

Later, I tried to look for an Evening Grosbeak which has been reported just two blocks away from the Manhattan School of Music, but my search was unfortunately in vain. A TUFTED TITMOUSE was present though:

As well as one of the two PEREGRINE FALCONS which nest atop the Riverside Church, here seen perched on a gargoyle:

What a wonderful day of birding! Bird-of-the-day of course goes to my life bird Razorbill, with runner-up to the magnificently-plumaged Long-tailed Duck and the Peregrine Falcon.

Good birding,
World Life List: 962 Species (1 life bird today: Razorbill)

Posted by skwclar 14:09 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Owl Around the Bog!

Sax-Zim Bog, MN

semi-overcast 37 °F

Today, I birded the Sax-Zim Bog of northern Minnesota in search of owls, Sharp-tailed Grouse, and Bohemian Waxwing. We were on the road by half past seven and were treated to an absolutely stunning northwoods sunrise with deer in the foreground:

After checking Racek Road in search of Sharp-tailed Grouse which we unfortunately failed to find, we headed to Highway 7 to check for GREAT GRAY OWL. Sure enough, one mile south of the greenhouses where the owl was described to be, a huddle of cars was parked alongside the road and we were afforded some rather distant but clear views of my favorite ABA-area bird. I cherish every single moment I see this incredible species, the “Phantom of the North.”

Then, a Canadian National train came roaring along the track parallel to the highway and the owl wasn’t found again.

The Admiral Road feeders proved to be fruitful once again, immediately providing us with brief but plentiful views of two BOREAL CHICKADEES:

Soon, the flock of PINE GROSBEAKS flew in:


Then, it was back to criss-crossing the Bog looking for whatever we could find. This NORTHERN SHRIKE provided wonderful roadside views:

A brief look at this BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE was nice — Sax-Zim Bog hosts an isolated population which is by far the easternmost place on earth where this species is found.

Our next stop was at a private residence where we once again missed the hoped-for Bohemian Waxwing, but at least there was a WILD TURKEY in the yard:

Before pulling into a place to look for the Black-backed Woodpecker, we were turning the car around and all the sudden we fell into the ditch alongside the road! This happened because there was about 18 inches of snow on the ground and it was very unclear where the ditch was, and where it wasn’t.

And it was only downhill from there—

Luckily, the car was out after about an hour because three pick-up truck-loads of kind locals generously pulled us out of the ditch after quite a few failed attempts.

ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, a denizen of Minnesota winter:

Just before we were about to call it a day and drive back to La Crosse, Bruce got a report on his phone of a Northern Hawk Owl along McDavitt Road. We pulled a (successful) U-turn and high-tailed it back to the NORTHERN HAWK OWL, which provided us with magnificent views!

At one point, a few COMMON REDPOLLS flew over and even buzzed the owl:

After a few minutes, the owl flew across the road and landed in another tree:

There, he provided great views once I walked around to get it in the nice evening light again:

And a beautiful sunset to cap off a wonderful day.

Bird-of-the-day is shared by the GREAT GRAY & NORTHERN HAWK OWLS, and runner-up to the BOREAL CHICKADEES — not bird species one sees every day!!! A very, very cool day and a successful trip, big thanks to Uncle Mory and Bruce. You guys are great.

Full species list for the trip is listed below.

Happy birding,
World Life List: 959 Species

1. Wild Turkey
2. Feral Pigeon
3. Mourning Dove
4. Cooper’s Hawk
5. Bald Eagle
6. Red-tailed Hawk
7. Rough-legged Hawk
8. Snowy Owl
9. Northern Hawk Owl
10. Great Gray Owl
11. Downy Woodpecker
12. Hairy Woodpecker
13. Pileated Woodpecker
14. Northern Shrike
15. Canada Jay
16. Blue Jay
17. Black-billed Magpie
18. American Crow
19. Common Raven
20. Black-capped Chickadee
21. Boreal Chickadee
22. Red-breasted Nuthatch
23. European Starling
24. Pine Grosbeak
25. Common Redpoll
26. Red Crossbill
27. Pine Siskin
28. Dark-eyed Junco

Posted by skwclar 22:08 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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