Sunday, February 14, 2021

Great Backyard Bird Count, The Weekend

     This weekend I kept the birding going. On Saturday, I co-led a walk for the Feminist Bird Club with the amazing staff at Shirley Chisholm State Park. Then I arrived home to a long awaited gift to myself, my very own spotting scope. And today, I had to use and get used to my new scope, so I went to Breezy Point to look out to the ocean and see what was up.

    I learned that while leading a walk, I am terrible at taking pictures, so I have very few to show for Saturday. Also, it was a level of cold Saturday that by time I arrived home my eyes were so tired and chilled, my body exhausted, and the dry air dehydrated the heck out of me that a very rare thing happened. I took a nap when the kiddo took a nap. And then for today, I was set to go!

At Shirley Chisholm, we birded ever so slowly along Hendrix Creek because there was just so much to see. At one point we kept hearing a downy woodpecker, who just refused to come out. But instead, this American Tree Sparrow surprised us by popping out to feed on the grasses.

Of course, the water of the creek was full of waterfowl including birds like this bufflehead, but also gadwall, American black duck, mallard, two great blue herons, loads of scaup, ruddy ducks, and even a single common merganser.
When everyone else peeled off, as the walk came to an official end, a few of us took the loop around back to the parking area where we enjoyed seeing a Northern Harrier with its kill, a cottontail.

I arrived, very excited to Breezy Point. I was greeted by these little sanderlings at high tide. The water came right up to the snow, making the beach itself, quite beautiful. 
In getting my new scope (Vortex Viper), I wanted to get a feel for it, both using it and carrying it. I was glad that I carried it, my binoculars, and my camera with little issue. We'll see what my shoulder thinks tomorrow...

I noticed a very pale bird... and it is an Ipswich Savannah Sparrow, a subspecies of our good ol' Savannah Sparrow, which I also saw.

And there were two of them too!

They ran over the ground foraging, but were oh so round. Trying to probably conserve as much heat as it can.

I was very excited to come across this group of 30 (maybe more) snow buntings.
They are so flippin' cute!
While I was trying to fiddle with my scope and viewing them, a raptor passed overhead, and I missed it. Was kicking myself as I was hoping to see a rough-legged hawk as two were reported there yesterday.

The buntings happily, and quite busy, fed on the grasses. Bouncing from blade to blade, hopping from the ground to grab hard to reach seeds. It was very chaotic and cute.

Continuing on, along to the jetty, these two surf scoter were actively diving quite close to shore.

One of many common eider swimming along the jetty, this one the only mature male.
I used my scope to get better views of long tailed ducks, additional eiders battling the surf great cormorant perched on the jetty, and far off loons.

As I was taking the trail back to the lot, I saw a raptor high up overhead. Very excited that it was the rough-legged hawk!
Wish it wasn't so darn high, but beggars can't be choosers!
A rare visitor to our area, they love hunting over open spaces as they are birds of the Arctic. This is a light morph bird, there is also a darker morph.

And just before I got to leaving, a group of 5 American Tree Sparrows, descended from the grasses to this puddle, to drink, bathe, and have an all-out good time.

I guess a puddle is still fresh water and freshwater is important for keeping those feathers clean!

A friend of mine pointed out how they are called American Tree Spaorrows but you 9 times out of 10 never see them in trees.
This one is on a mini iceberg.

I always can appreciate a good clear look at these cute little sparrows!
The weather looks menacing tomorrow. Will I make it out for a fourth day of GBBC'ing? We'll have to see just how things play out.

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