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Saturday, March 20, 2004

Wolfe’s Pond, Great Kills, Fort Tilden, Breezy Pt., Pt. Lookout, Hempstead Lake SP with Shane B.

I'm glad Shane called me to join him today for some coastal birding. It was a needed change of scenery from the view of the hawk nest and its surrounding woods. What started off as a trip to look for the Western Grebe that has been hanging out on Staten Island turned into a tour of many coastal areas from Point Lookout to Breezy Point. We also stopped at Hempstead Lake State Park to look for Redheads.

Finding the Western Grebe was almost too easy. At 8:00 the wind was calm and there wasn't a ripple on the ocean. Just scanning with our naked eyes was enough to locate it about 400 yards offshore. As it preened it frequently turned its head rapidly from side to side, as if it were practicing part of a courtship display. It also kept stretching its right leg out to the side; probably just some early morning calisthenics. The pond was mainly occupied by scaup but there were also a few Ring-necked Ducks, shovelers, a pair of Gadwall and a Great Egret along the shore. A quick stop at Great Kills wasn't very productive so we decided to head over to Brooklyn to check on the recently reported gull flocks at Fort Tilden and Breezy Point.

As we were passing the Verrazano Bridge we stopped along the highway to check out a raft of scaup on Gravesend Bay. There were about 3,000 or more ducks in a flock that was mostly Greater Scaup but also included a small number of lesser. The large flocks of gulls at Tilden and Breezy have dispersed leaving mostly the expected numbers and assortment. The only unusual sighting was of a Red-necked Grebe. So we were off to Long Beach to check for gulls at Pt. Lookout. There was a flock of about 300 Bonaparte's Gulls present but it wasn't until about a quarter of them took flight that Shane noticed one standout - a Little Gull. I only had fleeting looks at the slight seabird's dark underwings. I would have preferred a more in depth study of this bird as I've never seen one before. After lunch I suggested stopping at Hempstead Lake SP as I've been lucky to find Redheads there 3 out of 4 times. As luck would have it there were 9 Redheads and a single Canvasback trying to blend in with his similar cousins. Also seen at Hempstead Lake SP were Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, hooded and Common Merganser.

We were hoping to locate some of the recently reported rare gulls but since that was, essentially, a bust we thought we might as well try to pump up our waterfowl day list. We were fortunate to spot a couple of Snow Goose on our way home but were missing (at least) a Ruddy Duck. As we were driving up Prospect Park Southwest Shane stopped the car near Prospect Lake. We were tired and lazy but could see the lake clearly through the trees. We rolled down the windows and scanned the lake. We could see plently of shovelers but where was a ruddy when you needed one. Finally I said, "There's one in front of the Thumb". Then it dove and Shane said, "We can't leave until I see it." "OK, it's up, let's go".

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Staten Island (Wolfe’s Pond, Great Kills), Brooklyn (Fort Tilden, Breezy Pt.), Nassau County (Pt. Lookout, Hempstead Lake SP), 3/20/2004
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe (Hempstead Lake SP.)
Horned Grebe (various.)
Red-necked Grebe (Breezy Pt.)
Western Grebe (Wolfe's Pond.)
Great Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Egret (Wolfe's Pond.)
Snow Goose (Flying over Meadowbrook Pkwy. near Jones Beach.)
Canada Goose (various.)
Brant (various.)
Mute Swan (Hempstead Lake SP.)
Wood Duck (~8, Hempstead Lake SP.)
Gadwall (Wolfe's Pond, Hempstead Lake SP.)
American Wigeon (Hempstead Lake SP.)
American Black Duck (various.)
Mallard (various.)
Northern Shoveler (Wolfe's Pond.)
Green-winged Teal (Hempstead Lake SP.)
Canvasback (Hempstead Lake SP.)
Redhead (5 drake, 4 hen. Hempstead Lake SP.)
Ring-necked Duck (Wolfe's Pond, Hempstead Lake SP.)
Greater Scaup (Wolfe's Pond, Gravesend Bay.)
Lesser Scaup (Gravesend Bay.)
Common Eider (Wolfe's Pond.)
Long-tailed Duck (Wolfe's Pond, Fort Tilden, Pt. Lookout.)
Bufflehead (various.)
Common Goldeneye (Great Kills.)
Hooded Merganser (Hempstead Lake SP.)
Common Merganser (Hempstead Lake SP.)
Red-breasted Merganser (various.)
Ruddy Duck (Prospect Park.)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Oystercatcher (Breezy Pt., Pt. Lookout.)
Little Gull (Pt. Lookout.)
Bonaparte's Gull (Wolfe's Pond, Pt. Lookout.)
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Monk Parakeet (Avenue I.)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe (Hempstead Lake SP.)
American Crow
Fish Crow (Hempstead Lake SP.)
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Northern Cardinal
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Boat-tailed Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Sparrow

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