Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chasing in Nassau County

     A birder friend of mine and I have been meaning to get a good trip together and so for Saturday, 11.19.16, we pulled together a chase to get some notable birds out in Nassau Co., Long Island. The weather was warm (for November) and we had a full day to get to a few different sites. So we headed out hoping to get some good birds...
Stop #1: Hendrickson Park in Valley Stream, Pink -footed goose. While I already had this bird- my friend did not-- and it is easy enough and reliable enough to make a quick stop for.
It was also nice to see this bird close, in the light, and a smidge more active, with it's head up...
...just a smidge more active.
When not active, it still had an eye on the world.
As a good goose should, the pink-footed is a grazer of plants. The little serrated edges on the beak are not teeth, but helpful if you graze on plants.
Stop #2 was at Lido Beach West. We were hoping to see the Ash-throated flycatcher, we dipped, but got a very late Baltimore Oriole, super vivid and gave the crowd of 20 some good looks. We also enjoyed chickadees, red-breasted nuthatch, and house finches here. There were also purple finches there, but I never got a good look.
An extra stop was made at Jones Beach Coast Guard Station, a last minute twitch for a Western Kingbird, reported earlier, dipped on that too. But instead got a show at the sandbar, a very feisty peregrine who gained altitude and went into a stoop, riling up the shorebirds below.
I am angry that with my sub par binoculars (my preferred pair is at Nikon in repair) I couldn't differentiate better between these birds on the shore, I saw the black-bellied plovers (one in the middle with stubbier bill), the dunlin (to his lower right), the sanderlings (not pictured), but failed to notice that there were also RED KNOTS on that sandbar, which is a life bird for me. Dang. Always pay close attention and (if your binoculars allow you to) take a good hard look at every bird.
Red knots (background), BB Plover (middle), and dunlin (foreground). 
And a nice immature common eider, just a lump of the sandbar.
That wedge shaped bill is good for grabbing shellfish from the bottom of the inlet during a dive.
Our only eider for the day was this one- stop #3 at Ransom Beach in Bayville came up empty handed for the female king eider seen there over the last week, but thanks to my friend's scope we both got white-winged scoters for our life list. A good busy day, each of us getting life birds. I look forward to other adventures, birding with friends is always a great time.