Monday, September 20, 2004

Fort Tilden and Riis Park with Shane

Shane thought that we might be able to catch a good number of coastal migrants today. As it happened, though, the wind died considerably since yesterday and we found only a handful of raptors moving along the coast.

American Golden Plover (left) seen last year

(Photo credit - Shane Blodgett)

We got lucky again during our first stop at the Flatbush Avenue golf driving range. An American Golden Plover was flying around, landing and flying around trying to avoid getting beaned by golf balls. He finally got wise and flew off towards the south.

A view north, towards the city

(Photo credit - Rob J)

It was great weather to be on the hawkwatch platform at Fort Tilden however there weren't many hawks to see. We stayed only briefly but managed to count 11 kestrels.

A Cooper's Hawk near the baseball fields

(Photo credit - Rob J)

On the beach at Riis Park we noticed an unusually large flock of Sanderlings near the shore. We walked up slowly, then dropped to our knees to get closer. Finally we sat on the sand and pulled ourselves closer every few minutes. They didn't appear to be threatened by our presence and allowed us to get extremely close. Only the gulls seemed to spook the tiny birds. We estimated that there were 1,500 birds in the flock. It was interesting to scan the group and see individuals in various stages of plumage molt. One group that stayed to the right edge seemed to have completely changed to their basic plumage. In the center of the flock were two brown birds - a Dunlin and a Semipalmated Sandpiper. One of the Sanderlings had a grossly deformed, broken leg. It didn't seem to slow the bird down at all though as he hopped at full speed with the useless leg sticking out to the side.

Dunlin with a flock of Sanderlings

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Getting a little closer

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Up close and personal

(Photo credit - Rob J)

After we left the Sanderling flock we walked the main Promenade of Riis Park checking the weedy edges for songbirds. It was in this spot that I located our second special bird of the day - a Philadelphia Vireo. The golden plover and vireo made nice bookends for a late-summer day of birding around the city.

Philadelphia Vireo

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

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Fort Tilden, Riis Park, 9/20/2004
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Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Black-bellied Plover
American Golden-Plover
Killdeer
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
(Budgerigar)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
White-eyed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, House Sparrow

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