Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Point Lookout and Jones Beach

This afternoon before sunset I rushed to Point Lookout to get pics of the Harlequin Ducks recently seen there.  Once I got on the beach I spotted a Horned Grebe, Sanderling and then a few Snow Buntings quickly flew by.  As I walked from West to the Inlet, I saw a few Long Tailed Ducks, couple of Black Scoters, more Horned Grebes, a few loons, a decent amount of common eiders and a large seal was poking it's head out of the water.  I almost gave up on the Harlequin Ducks until I got to the Inlet.  Saw a group of ducks and knew instantly they were the Harlequins I was looking for - saw at least 4 females (maybe 5) and 2 drakes.

I went by the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station which only had a few Brant.  A Goshawk or Harrier was swooping over the "pond" in the dunes.  I tried looking for the Glaucous Gull in Field 6 but couldn't locate it - mostly Ringed Billed, a few Herring and Black Backed.

I was happy to find the Harlequin Ducks - great way to end the year!

Harlequin Ducks

Harlequin Ducks

Harlequin Duck female

Harlequin Ducks (2 drakes, 4 females)

Common Eiders

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas

For Christmas my wife and mother-in-law got me the "Peterson Reference Guide to Seawatching" knowing how I like to spend time by the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station and have a thing for ducks and shorebirds (my favorite is the black skimmer).  My parents got me a mini Audobon book.  My Mom had actually handled the original Audobon prints when she worked for 3M. (she was required to wear gloves)  They wanted to use the prints in their advertising but the curator didn't allow it saying the photography might damage them.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Massapequa Lake

I tried looking for new waterfowl arrivals at the lake - saw Ruddy Ducks, Mallards, Coots, Hooded Mergansers, Swans and Northern Shovelers.  A single Lesser Scaup was along the west side of the lake - most of the Scaup were due north of the island in the middle of lake.  I assume they're Lesser, not Greater scaup - they were too far away to make a positive ID.  Several Great Blue Herons were present also.

Northen Shoveler


Scaup in the distance

Tackapausha Preserve, Seaford

I stopped by Tackapausha looking for ducks - on the pond were Mallards, Black Ducks and lots of Ring Billed Gulls.  A sharp-shinned hawk seemed to be eyeing the Mallards by the creek.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Point Lookout

Waves were rough at Point Lookout - was hoping to get some pics of the recent Harlequin Ducks, but no luck.  I did see my first Harlequin Duck and Bonaparte Gull but they flew over too quick to get a pic.  (I just enjoyed looking at the Harlequin with the binoculars)  Despite the rough waves, there were a decent amount of waterfowl: Common Eiders, Common Loons, Long Tailed Ducks and seemed to be a lot of Horned Grebes.  Purple Sandpipers were on the second western-most jetty - sanderlings were on the beach.  Leaving the park, I saw two huge flocks of Brant heading for inlet - hundreds, if not a thousand plus.

Horned Grebe

Purple Sandpipers

Common Eider and Gull - the Gull was trying to steal the Eider's catch

Brant flock

Jones Beach Coast Guard Station

Another unusually warm day for December - went by the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station - saw two Long Tailed Ducks, Common Loons, Red Breasted Mergansers, Brant, Gulls and a Horned Grebe.


Long Tailed Duck

Common Loon

Common Loon about to dive

Red Breasted Mergansers


Massapequa Park

(From Saturday) Driving along Front Street, a large "crow" caught my attention - it landed briefly next to another crow before both took off.  My gut instinct told me they were two ravens - the bad pic I took can't verify that, so it's anyone's guess.

Large Crow or Raven

Massapequa Preserve

(From Saturday) Unusually warm for December (50's) I stopped by the Preserve - saw Green Winged Teal, Gadwall, Mallards, and American Wigeons on the "Pittsburgh Ave pond".  Saw Titmice, Chickadees, Cardinals, Song Sparrows, Flickers and Carolina Wrens along the trails.  Driving on Clark Blvd, a dark mallard caught my eye so I stopped for a quick pic.

Domestic Mallard


Friday, December 20, 2013

Jones Beach Field 10

I stopped at Green Island and Jones Beach West End - at Green Island, saw a flock of Horned Larks, at Field 10 there were Brant in the bay and gulls in the lot - a driver tried to intimidate this juvenile black backed gull to get out of the way - the gull didn't feel like moving too much - seagull won.
At the West End median, saw a few Tree Swallows, at the Coast Guard Station, there were a pair of Long Tailed Ducks.


Black Backed Gull

Huntington Bay

Drove along Huntington Bay's East side - there were lots of Buffleheads feeding, Mallards and Canada Geese.  I spotted a group of Scaup - upon closer examination, determined they were Greater Scaup (also, Greater Scaup tend to favor the bays, while Lesser Scaup favor lakes.)  There was a decent sized group of American Wigeons further North up the bay.

Greater Scaup

Heckscher Park, Huntington

Took a quick look at Hecksher Pond while driving on Rte 25 and saw a flock of seagulls on the pond so I figured might be worth to take a look for a few minutes.  The seagulls consisted of Black Backed, Herring and Ring Billed.  I saw a group of drake hooded merganser scuffling with one another and a ring necked duck nearby.  Neither seemed to mind me being there so I was able to get some good close ups including three "ducks in a row".
I was coming back from Centerport where I noticed only one drake Canvasback with some Buffleheads on Centerport Pond.  There was a lot of activity on Mill Pond - I now realize that's where a larger group of Canvasbacks were reported by another bird watcher - will def check it out next time.

Hooded Mergansers "ducks in a row"

Hooded Merganser

Ring Necked Duck

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Massapequa - Neighborhood Birding

Today I walked around my yard looking around to find any "local" activity.  The birds in the neighborhood were very active.

White Throated Sparrow

Blue Jays

White Breasted Nuthatch


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Massapequa Preserve

I stopped by the preserve today looking for the Eurasian Wigeons from last year - found one drake in the "Doris Place" pond today in the company of American Wigeons and a Northern Shoveler.  Saw and heard Carolina Wrens, heard Titmice and Flickers.

Eurasian Wigeon

Eurasian Wigeon

Eurasian and American Wigeon

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Today was the first day of the season that I filled and hung up the bird feeders - will wait and see how long before the neighborhood birds take notice.  Last season the bird feeders attracted about 12 different species - hopefully more this winter.

two bird feeders in the garden - kale, mums, rosemary
House Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Mourning Dove (one of a pair after being flushed)

The first birds that arrived were house sparrows that visited Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning - perhaps they remember the feeders from last year.  Last year it took at least a week to attract any birds.  The feeders have also attracted a cardinal, song sparrow and a pair of mourning doves by the following Sunday.
Update: December 20th + single American Goldfinch female
Update: December 25th + Blue Jay
(Song Sparrow seems to be a regular visitor - might be same one that hung around last winter)
Update: December 29th + White Throated Sparrow
                                       + Junco
                                       + Starling
Update: January 11th     + Chickadees
Update: January 18th     + Carolina Wren
Update: (recent)             + Brown Headed Cowbird
                                      + Red Winged Blackbird

Monday, December 9, 2013

Massapequa Preserve

I was looking for the Scaup that usually winter at Massapequa Lake - just found one, but was close to shore so I got a good shot.  Greater and Lesser Scaup are hard to tell apart from a distance - I'm confident this is a Lesser judging from the shape of the head and body plumage.  I was surprised to find a Catbird so late, but was very vocal feeding on the berries by the pond near Pittsburgh Avenue.

Lesser Scaup


Snowy Owls in the Local News

Recent news about Snowy Owls being shot at JFK Airport - hopefully capture and release will work.  For pics and eBird report of my "lifer" Snowy Owl, please see December 4th post "Green Island" Wantagh

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge, Lloyd Harbor

Red Throated Loon
Took a chance looking for waterfowl by Target Rock - in the past, I almost always find Red Breasted Merganser there.  I found Common and Red Throated Loon, as well as four seals resting on the rocks.

Caumsett State Park, Lloyd Harbor

Canadian Geese
Canada Goose with tag

Lots of geese on the fields - I found a couple that were tagged.

Lloyd Harbor

Long Tailed Duck
Found a few Long Tailed Ducks by the mouth of the harbor.

Mill Pond, Centerport

American Wigeon


Red Breasted Merganser

Gadwall, Canada Geese
Walked along Mill Pond from Route 25A to Mill Dam Pond Road - water was unusually calm so was easy to spot the waterfowl.