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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Seabirds and grasspipers on Long Island

Shane and I took advantage of the strong southeast winds (and a day off) to check the ocean off of Long Island for seabirds. We also made stops at Pikes Beach in search of Royal Terns and the Riverhead sod farms for American Golden-Plover. It ended up as another 200+ mile day with some excellent results.

We left Brooklyn before first light with some concern for the weather. It drizzled a bit on our way to the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station but never rained enough to chase us home. There was nothing unusual to report on the bay near the station so we drove to parking lot #2 to search for some reported Buff-breasted Sandpipers. In the short grass south of the restrooms we counted, then recounted 8 Buff-breasted Sandpipers. I've never seen so many around NY before this year.

Surf at Robert Moses State Park

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The surf was pounding at Robert Moses and hundreds of terns were diving for small fish that were being nearly forced out of the water by hungry, much larger fish. Several Northern Gannet flew passed, practically skimming the surface of the ocean. Early on we spotted a Cory's Shearwater flying west, fairly close to the shore. Shane called out two "Laughing Gull-like" birds flying towards us from the southeast. They headed towards a large flock of terns feeding close to us. They were clearly jaegers, but which one? One of the jaegers flew by approximately 50 yards away, close enough that it filled my scope's field of view. We shouted out size, shape, impressions and field marks to each other. After studying four field guides we're fairly confident that one bird was a Parasitic Jaeger. We spent about 3 hours scanning the ocean at this location and also tallied a pair of Wilson's Storm-Petrels.

Click here to read about the "Winged Pirate"

Next we drove farther east and to Pikes Beach at Westhampton Dunes. The tide was low and there was a lot of exposed mudflat. There was a nice assortment of shorebirds but, more important, a flock of 14 Royal Terns. We left there and drove to Cupsogue Beach to scan the bay and ocean but didn't spend much time at that location. Turning around, we decided to drive north to the sod farms at Riverhead.

There had been recent reports of golden-plover at the sod farms and, since we were relatively close, we gave it a shot. The farms are loosely contained within a triangle of roads. At first all we spotted was a pair of Black-bellied Plovers. It wasn't until we reached the third side of the triangle that we located a small flock of birds that included three American Golden-Plovers and three Black-bellied Plovers.

I think I need a nap.

Click here to see photos of American Golden-Plovers

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Jones Beach; Robert Moses SP; Pikes Beach; Cupsogue; Riverhead Sod Farms, 8/30/2005
Common Loon (Jones Beach by Coast Guard Station)
Cory's Shearwater (Robert Moses State Park.)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel (2, Robert Moses SP.)
Northern Gannet (Several, Robert Moses SP.)
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Clapper Rail (2. Cupsogue Beach, bay side.)
Black-bellied Plover (Abundant.)
American Golden-Plover (3, sod fields off Doctors Path.)
Semipalmated Plover
Piping Plover (8-10, Pikes Beach.)
American Oystercatcher
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Red Knot
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin (Cupsogue Beach, bay side.)
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (8. Jones Beach lot #2 in front of building.)
Short-billed Dowitcher
Parasitic Jaeger (Robert Moses SP.)
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Royal Tern (14, Pikes Beach. 1, Cupsogue Beach.)
Common Tern
Least Tern
Black Tern (Several, Robert Moses SP.)
Black Skimmer
Barn Swallow
Eastern Towhee (Jones Beach Coast Guard Station.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Double-crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow


jnfr said...

Hey! Your RSS feed is back. Cool. It's been broken for a couple weeks now.

Rob J. said...

Thanks, I had no idea. Must have been those darn cyber-gremlins.

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