Saturday 18 January 2020 35 °F
After an excellent voice lesson this morning, I took the 1, 2, and Q trains to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn again to try again for the Razorbill and Harlequin Duck, which were seen yet again by others this morning (in addition to the Iceland Gull. I was really hoping to see them since I had tried and dipped on them last time. The nice thing about birding adventures via subway is that it only costs $5.50 round-trip: a solid deal for seeing quality birds! The one downside is that it was snowing so I had to use my camera with special care today. As soon as I arrived at Sheepshead Bay, it was obvious that I was birding in a blizzard but it was also obvious that my ICELAND GULL had stuck around! Talk about a “white gull in a snowstorm!”
Due to the snow I had to be more conservative with my photography, but I did manage a few decent shots including the abundant LESSER SCAUP:
And those gorgeous BUFFLEHEAD and their antics:
A pair of NORTHERN SHOVELERS were new appearances from last time’s visit:
And finally after a good deal of walking around the perimeter of the bay, in flew the one-and-only HARLEQUIN DUCK! It was instantly recognizable and gave close, wonderful views despite the snow. As if it was posing for me!
I had no luck finding any Razorbills in the bay, so I trekked through an upscale Brooklyn neighborhood to Manhattan Beach Park where I was hoping to possibly pick them up through sea watching. Birds were evident, including a nice surprise: immature NORTHERN GANNET, my first for Brooklyn!
Distant RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, distinctive with its spiky hairstyle even at a distance:
Perhaps the most surprising sighting here was of a man who stripped down to shorts to go for a freezing swim! Wow — I’m impressed!
Despite a thorough effort, no Razorbills were found here either. Next, it was off to Brooklyn Bridge Park to check for the vagrant female Painted Bunting which has been hanging around pier 5 for the last few weeks. I searched and searched for this rarity, spishing often and even tag-teaming with a friendly birder named Catherine at one point — but to no avail. At least two slightly more uncommon sparrow species were present, a couple of SWAMP & this FIELD SPARROW.
Maybe the bunting will stick around since it has already made such an extended stay, and I will definitely get a shot at Razorbills in coastal Brooklyn in the future so I am not concerned about that species. Part of birding is rejoicing over the successes, but another crucial part is powering through the misfortunes (such as missing the Painted Bunting, etc) — a lesson that can be applied to many situations outside of birding, as well. Bird-of-the-day to the Harlequin Duck with runners-up to the Iceland Gull & Northern Gannet, all quality birds for NYC!
Tomorrow, as long as the eBird reports from today are positive, my birding adventures take me to New Haven, Connecticut to chase my life bird Pink-footed Goose. STAY TUNED!
World Life List: 1108 Species