Sunday, February 7, 2021

Number Game

     One thing the average non-birder may not realize is how much of a number game birding can be. You have life lists, year lists, state lists, county lists, listing by month, path, season, the list for listing is, it seems is endless! I don't go super crazy (yet), I have a life list, and have been more keen on my state list, and now that I have the baby, I want to fatten up my county list for where we live. 

    Recently, I've had additions to some of my lists, and I love them all!

This bird was #414 on my life list, a Ferruginous Hawk. Usually a bird of the west, this one was found by a person conducting a winter waterfowl count and still, to this day, is continuing in the Black Dirt Region of Orange County, NY. 

And since this hawk is the first record for NY State, this bird was also my 300th NY State Bird! Nothing like #300 being a life bird and rare bird and a first record bird for the state!
You can tell this buteo apart from the red tails because of that lack of what is known as a belly band, a series of spotted feather that go across the belly, like a band!

While I have seen Common Eider before, never have I seen them so prominant along the Coney Island Waterfront, I got Common Eiders as #255 for my Kings County list on January 10th.

The birds I saw yesterday were at the fishing pier at low tide, I counted 25 on the nose, they were feeding on the mussels exposed by the tide.

In addition to eider, I also spotted all 3 scoter species, but the eider came closest and in favorable light for photos. I was hoping to see a razorbill, but that of course came when I got to work.

In addition to eiders and scoters, red-breasted mergansers were diving among the pilings. It is such a great spot to get a birds eye view of birds. They are not shy about doing their thing as you watch from above. It can give you the chance to see some of their unique features that you normally cannot appreciate from afar, like that crazy serrated bill for holding on to fish!

Herring gulls and ring-billed gulls lurk around with a watchful eye as the fishermen pull up any of their catches.

Of course once I reported in for work, in addition to the razorbill, a thick-billed murre was spotted. That would have been a state AND County AND life bird. Maybe I'll sneak a peek one day this week, if I'm lucky.

Speaking of county birds, this Queen of a King Eider is such a good one. She is bird #257 for my Brooklyn List, close to home at Floyd Bennett Field on a quick after work search.

She was hanging with a small group of buffleheads.

My favorite identifying feature of this bird is that little "smile" her bill seems to make. An absolutely adorable duck, glad to meet her yesterday.

A male bufflehead tries to upstage... good try, bud.

So, then I saw a silver fox of a bird. This great cormorant swept me off my feet, what a good looking bird! Aside from it's large size, its white chin and white spot on its flank, sets it easily apart from the double-crested cormorants.

Before leaving for home, I was hoping to check for snow buntings. I found  a huge flock of horned larks and 4 hidden snow buntings were feeding within the group as the sun was closing on on the horizon. Snow buntings are bird #82 for the year list. 
While listing can make you a little crazy, it also makes birding exciting, especially the new year re-set. And sometimes it makes the FOMO so real, it stings. But it's why I love this, it is always exciting, there is always a goal to hit, something to look forward to... and the birds, they are always a joy, there are some birds you don't mind seeing even after they are listed, weird ducks, raptors, and snow buntings are just a few of them.

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