A Travellerspoint blog

Finally…seawatching…and a Tanager chase!

semi-overcast 52 °F


After an entire semester, this morning I finally made it to the other side of the East River: specifically, the forecast called for east-southeasterly winds with mild temps, so I of course had to go seawatching! I woke up fairly early and took the subway and bus to Jacob Riis Park in Queens to try my luck for some species I haven’t yet found on my 2021 year list: Scoters, Eiders, Razorbill, Northern Gannet, and the like. If I was really lucky, maybe a Kittiwake would fly by, too, but one can never count on that from shore in New York.

I arrived and immediately felt the glare of the sun directly shining in my face — not the greatest planning on my part, but I did my best to scope out the patches of sea on either side of the worst of the glare. It was tough lighting and I did poorly with a couple RED-THROATED LOONS flying by:

There was a large group of around 50 SANDERLINGS foraging on the beach:

This GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL, the king of all local NYC gulls, made a flyby:


It was extremely tough scoping with the sun though, so I walked some of the trails in Fort Tilden, planning to come back to seawatch more later. There were a ton of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS around, happily coming in to my spishing calls. I think they were gorging themselves on the tiny red berries I saw fruiting on a lot of the second-growth surrounding the trails.




I then decided to climb up to the top of Battery Harris east to see if scoping from up there was more enjoyable. Though it was further from the shoreline, the added height did make things more tolerable and I was able to pick out my distant year-bird NORTHERN GANNETS:

And an extreeemely distant LONG-TAILED DUCK all the way over toward Plumb Beach over the Rockaway Channel:

The views of Manhattan from Battery Harris East never disappoint on a clear day.

I also saw a flash of white over the water so focused in with my camera and saw it was the group of Sanderlings that had flushed up, and pursuing them was the local pair of PEREGRINE FALCONS that live on the Flatbush Ave Bridge!

After quite a while, I walked back through the Fort Tilden trails and didn’t find much on the way back apart from more Yellow-rumps. Seawatching after that was also a bust so it was back to the bus for me. Next stop would be Carl Schurz Park on the east side of Manhattan and, 3 trains later, I had arrived. My target would be a vagrant female Western Tanager that has returned to this pocket park along the East River for a second winter!

Upon arriving at the park, I found the feeder setup where the tanager had apparently been feasting on blueberries and after a few minutes pointed out the female WESTERN TANAGER to the other birders watching! New York lifer! It stayed for just one minute to devour a blueberry then promptly disappeared into the trees, as I had read it has been doing lately. Awesome bird!

Bird-of-the-day to the vagrant Tanager with runner-up to my year-bird Northern Gannets, really the only “seabird” found today. More soon! There is a vagrant Northern Lapwing in Connecticut as I write this so it better friggin’ stay till sunday when I can get out next… :)

Happy birding!
World Life List: 1126 Species

Posted by skwclar 22:13 Archived in USA

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fun to read your exploits. We too had yellow rumped warblers on the Xmas bird count. So cool you can see the Norther Gannets there.

by Mary Mc

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