A Travellerspoint blog

Long Day on the Long Island

New York

semi-overcast 34 °F

Today I trekked over to Long Island in hopes of finding some uncommon species including the one-and-only Snowy Owl!

I started my birding scouring Nickerson Beach with many other birders in hopes of the Snowy Owl. Things were not looking up, though. In fact, there were barely any birds around apart from a few HORNED LARKS and this RED-THROATED LOON in the water.

It was desolate but still beautiful.

Unfortunately, I learned that over-zealous photographers were earlier pursuing the owl and chasing it in order to get “flight shots,” so the owl took off and hadn’t been seen since early morning. Dang — how frustrating! And saddening that there are people so selfish to harass such a vulnerable bird. After a long, futile search for the owl in the sand dunes, I ordered an uber to nearby Point Lookout where a Harlequin Duck had just been reported! I arrived and found many BRANT:

And I heard an unfamiliar-sounding “chip!” call and, to my surprise, out pops an unseasonably late PALM WARBLER! Too cool!

Interestingly enough, a late-ish YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was also in the vicinity:

Then, I finally made it to the jetty where the Harlequin had been reported. I saw two good-looking diving ducks briefly, but then a lady approached me and started talking my ear off while I was trying to get a better look at them! SO annoying! I love talking to people while birding, BUT when I am clearly focused on something in the field, people should know not the disturb the observer and chat his or her ear off.

And of course, I never saw the two ducks again. They were probably the Harlequins! Ugh!

Well, a cool sighting did happen in the form of a large flyby flock of SNOW BUNTINGS:

As well as some GREAT looks at Harbor Seals, very very neat!


As well as their relative the SURF SCOTER:


RED-THROATED LOONS proliferated:

And a COMMON LOON — note the considerably thicker bill:

And there were even some nice LONG-TAILED DUCKS, including some individuals with their namesake tails:

Perhaps the greatest frustration of the day, though, was my roundabout commute back to the city! Instead of taking the LIRR train back, I wanted to save money and take the N33 bus and the A train. But, upon getting on the A train, I learned that it was running in two segments today. So, in order to get to Central Park which was my next birding stop, I took an uber, the N33 bus, A train, 2 JFK AirTrains, & the E & the C trains before I finally got off at 96th street in Central Park. What a commute!!

At least I saw couple of AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS when the A train passed over Jamaica Bay:

My goal in Central Park was a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker that had been seen near the North Meadow recently. At least one thing worked as planned today — I arrived to see a horde of birders & photographers peacefully observing the young bird, which still has gray head feathers (though note its namesake red head is just starting to come in):

Whew — what a day! And to cap it all off, tonight I sang the bass solo in Bach’s “Magnificat” with EnsembleNYC, my first solo gig here in Manhattan outside of MSM! It went great! It’s a crazy season in many ways!

Bird-of-the-day to the Red-headed Woodpecker which salvaged an otherwise irritating birding day, and runner-up to the very unexpected Palm Warbler in the morning. Stay tuned — Monday morning I’m thinking I will go chase my life bird Barnacle Goose out on Long Island!

Good birding,
World Life List: 978 Species

Posted by skwclar 19:31 Archived in USA

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Henry, you were too kind to that talkative lady! It is annoying in any situation when someone is more interested in what they are saying then what the person they are talking to is doing. Sorry you couldn't confirm the Harlequins. At least the day ended well.

by Marlene Scott

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