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Friday, September 22, 2006

Looking along the coast for a Dickcissel

American beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata)

(Photo credit - Rob J)

My Friday work was rescheduled at the last minute so I had some unexpected birding time. Sean was also off so the two of us headed to Robert Moses State Park, on Long Island, in search of a reported Dickcissel. Robert Moses State Park is located on one of the barrier islands that act as buffers for Long Island’s south shore. Sunrise has been advancing closer to 7am so I didn’t have to wake up unreasonably early and arrived at the coast just after the sun came up. It’s a great place to observe migrating birds and on this day we also noticed that large numbers of migrating Monarch Butterflies also follow the coastline.

Dickcissel (Spiza americana) click to enlarge

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

-Click here for more info on Barrier Island flora-

Doe and fawn at dawn

(Photo credit - Rob J)

A few fisherman’s cars were parked in the lot and a doe with her fawn were foraging in the picnic area. Other than that, we appeared to have the place to ourselves. We walked around for about thirty minutes checking for birds in the low beach flora edging the parking lot. As we walked a sidewalk towards the golf course I spotted a Dickcissel perched atop a clump of beach grass. Sean walked back to his car to retrieve his camera gear. While I was watching the female bird a second one, this time a male, popped up and joined her. We watched the two birds for a long time as they nibbled on the seed heads at the end of the grass stalks. At one point all the birds in the area panicked and disappeared into the underbrush. A Merlin was patrolling the area. They gradually returned to the open and continued to feed. They were still in that spot when we left.

Hatching Stinkbugs on a blade of grass

(Photo credit - Rob J)

We made one other quick stop at Big Egg Marsh near Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. A loop of the marsh and coastline didn’t turn up anything unusual so we headed home.

Young Red-tailed Hawk & Chimney Swifts

(Photo credit - Rob J)

Another interesting sighting since my last post was of a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk in Prospect Park. I spotted him circling above the Ravine as he was being mobbed by angry Chimney Swifts. To him they were probably akin to the mosquitoes that were attacking Sean and I at the coast. Not really a serious threat, just extremely annoying. The hawk eventually descended to a perch in a large oak next to the Tennis House. With only a few minutes of sunlight remaining, I assumed that he was coming in to roost for the night. I can’t be completely certain if he is one of Ralph and Alice’s offspring. It is likely, especially since he was hunting above his nest woods and roosted close to that area.

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Robert Moses SP & Big Egg Marsh, 9/22/2006
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Peregrine Falcon
Clapper Rail (Big Egg Marsh.)
Greater Yellowlegs
Whimbrel (Robert Moses SP.)
Long-billed Dowitcher
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Red-eyed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Marsh Wren (Big Egg Marsh.)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-breasted Chat (Robert Moses SP.)
Scarlet Tanager (Big Egg Marsh.)
Dickcissel (2, Robert Moses SP.)
Eastern Towhee
Savannah Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow

Other common species seen (or heard):
Double-crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

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