We’re one month into the New Year and my birding total stands at 95 species. That’s a good total but like any good birder I can’t help but be disappointed by the ones I missed. I am on pace now to see 1140 species in 2012.
I have very poor luck when it comes to rarities. My usual rule of thumb is that when I go out looking for a particular bird I won’t find it. Now that I live on the Island, Home Of the Winter Rarity, and now that I have set some more ambitious birding goals I have made much more of an effort to find the rare birds than I ever have before. The results so far are mixed. I have found two rarities in a month– the Grace’s warbler at Point Lookout and the northern shrike at Floyd Bennett Field– but failed at many more. Twice I drove all the way out to Calverton for the mountain bluebird and got skunked. It took two tries for the shrike. No luck on multiple trips to Jamaica Bay for the eared grebe and the Eurasian widgeon. I’ve only seen the common gull species this winter. And don’t get me started on greater white-fronted geese. I just don’t get how some birders manage to see all the rarities. Some guys have all the luck.
Yesterday I headed out to Fort Tilden to do some field work but found the gate to the study area locked so I crossed the Gil Hodges Bridge to scout out Floyd Bennett Field and try to find the northern shrike that has been there all winter. No dice. Saw kestrels hover hunting over the fields but no shrike. There was another guy there that mentioned he had seen the eared grebe at Jamaica Bay earlier so I decided to try for that on my way home. No dice. The tide was out. I went back today but I stopped at Jamaica Bay first since the tide was still high. Found the grebe over by what used to be the Terrapin Trail (thank you very much Tropical Storm Irene). After a brief stop at Fort Tilden (gate still locked) I went over to FBF and found the shrike where it has been seen all along, at the edge of Field G, sitting at the top of a small tree. Then I decided to push my luck and try for the red-necked grebes over at the boat launch. No dice. Maybe next time. Still, two rarities in one day. I’ll take it.
Update: The eared grebe at Jamaica Bay was photographed earlier yesterday morning well south of where I saw my grebe around noon. It may not have been an eared grebe after all. Stay tuned.
Update #2: The eared grebe was photographed at the same time as I was watching the grebe by the West Pond Trail. I saw a horned grebe, not the eared grebe. Damn.
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I’ve been living on Long Island for two and a half years now. Although there are a ton of amazing places to bird and explore and odd species turn up frequently I definitely have not taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to me. My resolution this year is to bird LI thoroughly, visit places I have not been, and most importantly to try to see as many bird species as I possibly can on LI in 2012.
After 4 days things are going pretty well. I’ve added at least one new species every day. I tallied 50 on the 1st doing a CBC in Nassau County, and 8 more in the past three days. I am 1 for 2 with western vagrants. I saw the Grace’s warbler at Point Lookout on Monday but wasted a lot of time and gas driving out to Calverton on Tuesday to try for the mountain bluebird which was a bust. For now I am impatiently awaiting a possible Montauk trip next weekend and then the annual NYS Waterfowl Survey the weekend after that.
Good news, bad news. Good news is that it’s a good year for boreal cone and berry crops. Bad news is that we’re not going to see a lot of finches and other irruptive migrants around here this winter. See the details here.
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From the Smithsonian:
“For the first time in decades, researchers have found a new bird species in the United States. Based on a specimen collected in 1963 on Midway Atoll, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, biologists have described a new species of seabird, Bryan’s shearwater (Puffinus bryani), according to differences in measurements and physical appearance compared to other species of shearwaters. Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute analyzed the specimen’s DNA to confirm that it is an entirely new species.”
Read the full press release here.
Check out this article from the latest issue of Science. Birds burn protein from their own muscles and organs to stave off dehydration during migratory flight.
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Welcome to this brand new group. Join us if you like birds or birding and would like to share your interest with other CUNY folk. We will be posting news about NYC area birding and ornithology in general, as well as organizing group birding trips around the region.
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