Sunday, January 15, 2017

LI Birding 1.14.17

     My husband asked me during the week if I'd join him out at a bar for a band out in Nassau. I said sure, but if we're going out there, can we make a day of it and... go birding.
     To my delight, Tim said yes. So he learned his geese, dipped on a snowy owl, and napped as I located the black headed gull. All, in all, a success of a day, as we got to lunch with one of our dear friends and her adorable family, beat the snow, and I got in a nap before a late night out, while we watched football.
     Enjoy the sights:
I had already taken Tim to see the pink footed goose about a month earlier. At that time, he was pretty annoyed because "it really looks like all the others." Unlike yesterday, when he stated, how he was much batter at picking him out from the crowd of Canada geese.
So, we had to step up the challenge- find on this same pond, a cackling goose. I explained its smaller, more compact than the regular Canada Goose, but it has a smaller wedge-shaped bill- but has many of the same markings as a Canada Goose...
Almost all the geese on the pond were resting, bills tucked into their feathers. But as Tim marched ahead, helping me locate this goose, I noticed one bird maybe 20 yeards from the pink footed goose who had a much chunkier and smaller look all around..
Around the base of its neck, some white feathers showed- a white ring around the neck is a typical cackling field mark.
Tim was not convinced I had the cackling, but was pretty proud to spot this oddity- a Canada goose showing piebald plumage on its neck and head.
I admit, he was pretty cool.
Then, my little goose showed face, a small, wedge-shaped bill confirmed a cackling goose.

The cackling goose used to be considered a sub-species of the Canada goose (which there are many subspecies of), but genetic analysis determined this to be a separate species, also they breed in areas different than that of Canada Geese- in the high Tundra- Canada's breed south of there.
The smallest cackling variety is about a 1/4 size of the largest variety of Canada goose.

I love this pink footed goose- I also love that in terms of viewing both this goose and the cackling goose are often within easily viewable range, no binoculars needed!
That's one check off our list, next stop was the West end of Jones Beach...
Jones Beach turned up empty for owls of any kind, but I did enjoy these "ipswich" savannah sparrows.
I am used to Savannahs being a bit darker- and upon first glance I identified them as Savannah, they just seemed slightly different- very light, with beautiful fine streaks.

Further down the jetty... binocular vision revealed something more than rocks.
Hundreds of dunlin just resting, safety in numbers- especially as peregrine falcons have their eyes out for these guys.

At the coast guard station, we were greeted with a black scoter.
Both common (this guy) and red-throated loons were out on the water.
Herring gull before leaving.
I love that Tim let me go to our third and final spot, Cammann's Pond in Merrick...
What I really loved about Cammann's Pond was that it was a huge roosting place for black-crowned night herons, I spied at least 20, immature and adults hidden among the tangles near the shorelines all around the pond.
But what I really came to see...
A black headed gull had been hanging out here for some time now. Figured I'd get to see and admire him for my 2017 list.
Whats in a name?
Well, during breeding season, their plumage is quite different- as these birds don a black head, as their name suggests. But winter plumage, it's not necessary. Instead, just some small wisps of black remain.
This bird is also noticeably smaller than the numerous ring-billed gulls on the pond and unlike them has red-orange legs and bill.
For a small pond, I liked that Cammans was filled with plenty of hooded mergansers (above), N. shovelers, American black ducks, mallards, herons, and gulls. I enjoyed this visit, while Tim took some time to recline in the car and take a power nap. Fair enough, I just enjoyed spending a day together and appreciate him obliging to my crazy bird requests.