Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Updates

I've been a little backed up lately with regard to my postings. The photos are there, the notes are there, I just need to put it all together. I birded in Prospect Park this past Saturday and Sunday with some interesting results. I'm usually up by 6:30am so I can get caught up before breakfast, I guess I've been a bit lazy the last couple of days. Here's a tease from the lake in Prospect Park.

Mmmmm, coot...

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Arctic on the Hudson

Sean and I both dropped everything to drive up to Piermont to see a reported Ivory Gull. The gull was discovered by someone who had gone to see the Snowy Owl that has been wintering in that area. Here are a few photos. I'll follow up with more details later.

Ivory Gull - Pagophila eburnea (click to enlarge)



(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

Snowy Owl - Bubo scandiacus (click to enlarge)



(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Here are directions from Rockland Audubon:

-Piermont Pier descriptions and directions-

-Town of Piermont information-

Tom Fiore kindly provided information for taking public transportation"

"From: Tom Fiore
Date: February 26, 2007 7:12:05 PM EST
Subject: Public transport to Piermont, NY (from NYC)

From New York City, regularly scheduled bus transportation is available to the village of Piermont, Rockland County, NY via the Coach USA (also formerly called Red & Tan Lines). The bus will stop along the main street of Piermont, and from there a moderate walk east will get one to the pier & adjacent areas where an IVORY GULL has been seen, along with the long-lingering Snowy Owl near the end of the pier.

The bus ride from Manhattan in New York City to Piermont should take no more than 45 minutes or so from the G. Washington Bridge bus terminal (at Broadway & 178 Street), a bit longer from the Port Authority Bus Terminal (NYC's main bus station) at Eighth Avenue & 41 Street. Ask a driver to let you know when the bus gets to Piermont. Ask anyone in the town which way to the pier! (The walk out to the far eastern end is over a mile round-trip.) Expect it to be a bit cooler surrounded by the chilly water of the Hudson River, almost always with a breeze or some wind.

Should the gull be reported again on Tuesday morning, expect hundreds of birders to be there through the day! Several hundred birders were present on the pier today, Monday/26, though not all were there at once! Anyone spending any money at all in the town of Piermont should make it crystal clear to all businesses, &/or the town office clerk (for any pier permits, if you will drive out) that you are in that town especially to observe birds. Park in the lots available for the many businesses in the "mall" area just east of the main street, on the northern (right) side of the large condo development, IF ALL other parking is completely full (which is possible, but not necessarily likely).
NO ONE should need to park along the main street itself, unless you are patronizing a business on that street.

There are reasonably-priced motels in Nyack, about 4 or 5 miles north, & a bit west of Rt. 9W (which runs parallel to the Hudson River) along Rt. 59, but I don't have details - Best Western, Super 8, & there may be a few others. There are certainly other accommodations near the general area. Piermont & also Nyack have plenty of choices of restaurants, and plenty of shopping opportunities as well for those so inclined.

-Coach USA bus lines Manhattan to Piermont, NY-


Good luck,
Tom Fiore
N.Y. City"


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nature strikes back

I thought I'd share the following funny e-mail. My mother lives in Florida. This week one of my sisters and her kids are visiting. She just sent dropped me a note that contained the following tidbits. Keep in mind that we all enjoy wildlife, on the other hand, they seem to have it out for them:

"Dear Rob:

[ ... ] Went to the beach today with Eizabeth and the kids. Willie, Elizabeth and I were eating a lunch from 'Subway' when Elizabeth screamed as a gull took off with her lunch. Earlier this morning, at golf, a crow took my golf ball. [ ... ]

Love Mom"


It's a jungle out there ;-)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Brooklyn Feeder Birds

Mohawk tree

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

On Saturday I spent 4 hours in Prospect Park. My primary objective was to locate the Ravine Red-tailed Hawk pair (aka “Ralph” and “Alice”) and to look for, and photograph, the Pine Warbler.

I entered the park at 5th Street and walked northeast, to the Vale of Cashmere. The vale is a small, a natural amphitheater the centerpiece of which is a decorative pool with ornamental plantings. The sky was a cold, wintery lapis lazuli. At my feet was a blanket of blindingly, white snow. The vale’s natural windbreak made the air feel toasty in comparison to the surrounding areas. Around the pool are several rectangular, concrete balusters supporting a long missing railing around the pools. Someone had placed mounds of mixed birdseed on the tops of the balusters. Before giving the birds a close look I set up my camera to create another 360 degree panorama. From a visual perspective, park designers Olmstead and Vaux created a nearly perfect illusion of an exotic, faraway place with the Vale of Cashmere. If one were magically transported to that spot, I doubt that they would suspect they were in the center of Brooklyn.

Vale of Cashmere (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Google Earth)

Vale of Cashmere panorama

(click and drag image - Quicktime required)

Blue Jay, chickadee, titmouse, both nuthatches, Fox and White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, House Finch and American Goldfinch were some of the expected cast of winter birds gorging on the scattered piles of cracked corn, millet and sunflower seeds. One peculiar sighting was of a European Goldfinch. I’m sure that he is someone’s escaped bird, not a long distance flyer. He didn’t join in with the other finches at the seed piles and flew off after a minute or two. The American Goldfinches were shunning him. Must be some kind of avian xenophobia (Euro-trash bird).

Blue Jay

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Jetbeads in the winter look like semiprecious stones set in an otherwise, ordinary spindly shrub. This plant caught my eye as it’s web-like shadow and glossy fruit looked so dramatic against the crusty snow.

Jetbead - Rhodotypos scandens (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

I walked along the ridge that borders the west side of the Midwood. In the winter it’s usually easy to spot a Red-tailed Hawk among all the trees bare branches. Looking in the opposite direction I checked the large Ravine pine tree to see if Ralph and Alice have begun work on their nest. It was difficult to tell from that perspective. Along Center Drive a hyperactive flock of Cedar Waxwings kept moving from tree to tree, towards the stream beneath the Nethermead Arches. They seemed eager to descend to the water but were waiting for someone to make the first move. There were about 25 birds in the flock and they constantly called out to each other with a barely audible high, thin whistle. A small number eventually made it down to the water’s edge. Moments later the entire flock moved off into the Ravine.

The feeders on Breeze Hill were well stocked and the large, mixed flock noisily feasted. As I was setting up my tripod the entire flock suddenly scattered and a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk landed directly beneath the feeders. He didn’t seem interested in any of the birds. A tangle of branches, logs and vines was his focus and he hopped up on top of it. I guess there was some kind of rodent or rabbit hidden within the pile. I walked towards him, keeping a tree between him and me, until I was right up on him. He took off before I could snap a photo but landed in a locust tree nearby, where he stayed for several minutes.

Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

It didn’t take very long for the birds to return to the feeders. I waited patiently for about 15 minutes and the Pine Warbler appeared on one of the feeders. He’s small enough that he fit in between the wire mesh surround the feeder and the feeder tube. From that location he leisurely picked through the seeds without competition. Valerie and Michele, from the nature center, were participating in the “Big Backyard Bird Count” and stopped by the feeders. Valerie had a fresh suet cake and assured me that it was the Pine Warbler favorite food. I left my camera focused on the suet feeder and waited.

As I was waiting a squirrel kept trying to raid the feeders. Each time he would get close to making his leap from an adjacent sapling, I would whistle like a Red-tailed Hawk. He would scurry down the tree and run for cover. This went on for about an hour (he never caught on). One time, I scared him so badly, that he fell, caught himself on a lower branch with his front legs and teetered like a pendulum for a moment before regaining his balance and running off.

The Pine Warbler appeared to feed in a circuit from the two seed feeders to the suet feeder. From the suet feeder he would fly to a small branch in a pine tree where he’d wipe off his bill. He’d usually disappear for 15 minute stretches then return to repeat his routine.

Pine Warbler eating suet


(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

I walked through the Ravine on my way home, hoping to find my two Red-tailed Hawks. As I approached the split in the path west of the Nethermead Arches I heard a squirrel vocalizing. It was the typical “chuck, squeal” call that told me a hawk was close. A few yards into the Ravine and I saw the object of his concern. Ralph and Alice were perched, side by side, in an oak tree adjacent to their annual nest tree. I tried to set up my camera quickly and quietly but Alice took off, flying towards the Midwood. Ralph flew a short distance and sat with his back to me. He was very cooperative and let me take several photos before flying off west, towards the Picnic House. I scanned their nest tree from a few different angles and it’s apparent that they’ve added new material to the nest.

"Ralph" in the Ravine

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

The next time I go into the park I plan to just sit in the Ravine and see if I can glimpse them bringing material to the nest or, dare I say, copulating.

- - - - -

Prospect Park, 2/17/2007
-
Red-tailed Hawk (1 juvenile, Breeze Hill; 2 adults, Ravine.)
Ring-billed Gull
Red-bellied Woodpecker (3 or 4.)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2.)
American Crow (6.)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (2.)
White-breasted Nuthatch (4-6.)
Carolina Wren (1, Breeze Hill.)
Cedar Waxwing (approx. 25, water beneath Nethermead Arches.)
Pine Warbler (Breeze Hill feeders.)
Fox Sparrow (5.)
White-throated Sparrow (Abundant.)
Dark-eyed Junco (Common.)
House Finch
American Goldfinch (Fairly common.)
European Goldfinch (Vale of Cashmere, likely escaped caged bird.)

Other common species seen (or heard):
Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

Friday, February 16, 2007

Longspurs in New York

I just received a report that the Smith's Longspur Ed Coyle found is still enjoying our arctic weather here in New York. It has been seen in the same area where it was first discovered next to the Jones Beach Nature Center.

I may have mentioned previously that this is only the second time one has been seen in the entire state. There's been stories bandied about among New York birders regarding the "alleged" fate of the first bird. I've heard varying accounts of the events that unfolded on that cold day 32 years ago. The following first hand report was posted on the New York State Bird List by Hugh McGuinness:

"Subject: RE: Smith's Longspur @ Jones Beach (!!!!!)
From: Hugh McGuinness
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2007 16:05:49 -0500

OK, lest Tom Burke be crucified, I had better tell the true story of New York's first Smith's Longspur, which was found in 1974. It may surprise many of you to learn this, but this was a time before digital cameras, cell phones and (brace yourself and sit down youngun's) the internet. That year five or six of us (including Tom Davis, Bob Smart, Peter Polshek, Paul Lehman, yours truly and perhaps Joe DiCostanzo) were engaged in a friendly effort to set the New York State year list record.

On that fateful day, Sep 22, 1974, I was birding with Tom Burke and his girlfriend Susan Stappers and we decided to go see a "woodlot" in Far Rockaway that John Bull frequented. We ran into John and found a Golden-winged Warbler there. Later in the day we birded Jamaica Bay and I remember mind-gripping looks at a Connecticut Warbler walking through the grass in the south garden. At that point I thought that I had had a pretty good day.

Further east, Tom Davis, Bob Smart, Peter Polshek, Joe DiCostanzo (which explains why I didn't seem him at Jones this morning) and a fifth person, who may have been Marc Chamberlain, found the Smith's Longspur along the roadway at Robert Moses. Although the bird was tame, they wanted to get hand-held photos of the bird. They new it was a first state record, and they didn't want anyone to doubt their record. Tom Davis who had an active banding permit also carried mist-nets in his car. The bird was so exhausted or tame that they were able to throw the net over the bird. The first time they did this the bird escaped. So they tried it again, and much to everyone's surprise, it worked again. Peter Polshek was closest to the bird. He was vehemently urged to make sure that the bird did not escape on his side, and so he pounced. Peter was not in those days his current 190 pounds, and probably only weighed in at 120 or so, however compared to the mass of a Smith's Longspur his mass was almost infinite! When the dust settled, New York had its first specimen of Smith's Longspur. That is what they reported that night when we talked on the phone (a land line), and so it must go down as the official version of the incident.

Needless to say, for Tom Burke and me the news that there was no chance of finding the Smith's Longspur the following day was a bitter pill. Thus it seemed fitting that we were standing next to each other this morning when we found the bird; for me it felt like a bit of redemption. The 32 year wait didn't seem quite as long, nor the freezing temperatures quite so cold.

So if you didn't read all this and skipped to the end, let me reiterate:

Tom Burke DID NOT KILL the first Smith's Longspur. Peter Polshek, who remains one of my dearest friends in the world, has been haunted by his rash act ever since that fateful day (and has had to bear enormous therapy bills). I'm sure he too will feel a great sense of relief when he gets my e-mail tonight.

Hugh McGuinness:



Smith's Longspur (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Edward Coyle)


(Photo credit - Edward Coyle)


(Photo credit - Edward Coyle)


(Photo credit - Edward Coyle)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jones Inlet to Shinnecock Inlet

Jones Inlet

(QuicktimeVR movie - click and drag to move around image)

Yesterday Sean Sime lead a trip for the Linnaean Society called, “Jones Inlet to Shinnecock Inlet”. With the discovery of the Smith’s Longspur at the Jones Beach Nature Center, Sean adjusted the itinerary and our group began the morning at Jones Beach.

Looking for the Smith's Longspur (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

We arrived at the beach parking lot at around 8:00AM and there were already several people lined up with their scopes at the north edge of the swale. It was overcast and cold but the wind had died down considerable since Saturday. Shane had, characteristically, arrived very early. It wouldn’t surprise me if he were the first person at the beach. The Smith’s Longspur hadn’t been seen yet but there was a small flock of Horned Larks beginning to feed at the far end of the sand. At about 9:00AM Shane asked me to take a look at a bird feeding behind a clump of dune grass. It was mostly obscured from view but bits and pieces of it head would occasionally show. We could see a very defined eye-ring, which was good for the longspur. After a few minutes the bird came into full view and it was, indeed, the Smith’s Longspur. Sean walked to each birder to make sure that they all had views of the bird. Having seen it in much better light on Friday, I was content to give up my scope to others and walk around taking photographs of the activity. By approximately 9:30AM there were 41 people lined up shoulder to shoulder, mesmerized by a buffy, 26 gram creature leisurely moving about in a tiny patch of sand and nibbling on seeds.

It was close to 10:00AM when Sean rounded up our group to head over to Jones Inlet. There had been a constant stream of birders, carrying all forms of telescopes and cameras on tripods, hurrying back and forth from the parking lot to the viewing area. By the time we left I would guess that nearly 100 people had seen the longspur.

Mussels and seaweed (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Sand and jetty (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

We parked the cars in the parking lot at Hempstead Town Park and walked west along the ocean towards Jones Inlet. There are two stone jetties along the way and we scanned between the boulders and ice formations for Purple Sandpipers. Close to the shoreline was the largest concentration of Red-throated Loons that I’ve ever seen. They are usually pretty common around New York in the winter, but one normally sees them farther from shore and more spread out. In the lea of one jetty six to eight of them paddled around practically wing to wing.

The sky had cleared and the bright sun cast a long wedge of glare across the ocean. Near the inlet Sean spotted three Razorbills relatively close to shore. I was having trouble seeing them as they were in the center of the glare. I picked up my tripod and moved to Sean’s left. It was at that point that I realized his scope was pointing in a different direction and that there were actually two groups of three Razorbills. Pretty good for a bird that is rarely seen close to land. There were a small number of White-winged Scoters near the end of the jetty, as well as, a Ruddy Turnstone.

Our next stop was at Captree Island, located on the bay side of the barrier islands. East of the marina the frozen bay looked like an arctic landscape with only a few small openings in the ice. Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead were found in this area. The open water beneath the Robert Moses Causeway was dotted with Red-breasted Merganser. We warmed up with some coffee and soup from the restaurant then headed east to the town of Eastport.

In the town of Eastport, north of Seatuck Creek is a pond that birders refer to by various names. On the east side of the pond is “Lily Pond Street”, so I’ll assume that it is “Lily Pond”. It’s a really good place to find a nice mix of winter waterfowl, provided that it’s not frozen. When we visited, the pond was nearly covered over in ice, except for a patch of open water at a cove in the northwest corner. There were hundreds of ducks and geese constantly shuffling position, fighting over water rights, sleeping or preening within a tiny little space. It reminded me of rush hour at Grand Central Station. The most abundant species were scaup and Canada Goose but the flock also contained black duck, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser and Ruddy Duck. After scanning the flock for about 30 minutes we packed up our scopes and drove farther east.

Dune Road runs from Moriches Inlet at Cupsogue Beach, east to Shinnecock Inlet. The approximately 14 mile road is the only road that traverses one of the final barrier beaches protecting the south shore of Suffolk County. We drove along Dune Road scanning the marshes on the north side and the dunes on the south side for bitterns or Short-eared Owls. They never materialized but we did see several Great Blue Herons in the marshes. Before arriving at the inlet we stopped at one of the county beaches to scan the ocean. We were seeing, primarily, Surf and White-winged Scoters. Then I noticed something large moving on the shore. Through my scope I watched a Harbor Seal as it rolled around in the sand. He looked like he was enjoying himself and rested on his back, surveying the beach upside down.

Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

At Shinnecock Inlet I spotted a few Purple Sandpipers foraging in the mussels and seaweed clinging to the jetty across the inlet. There were small numbers of scoters diving for food in the turbulent waters off of the western jetty. Sandy spotted a flock of about 50 Common Eiders in the calmer waters of Shinnecock Bay.

Before heading back to Brooklyn we made a final stop at a small park beneath the Ponquogue Bridge. It’s the site of the old Ponquogue Bridge and is primarily used as a boat launch. Warner Island, a virtual sand spit of an island is a short distance from the shore and a resting place for gulls and shorebirds. While we were scanning the bay I spotting a Peregrine Falcon flying full tilt from right to left across the island and only a few feet above the sand. A flock of Sanderlings panicked and took off as a single, swirling mass of feathers. We followed the falcon as it traveled across the water, in our directions. As it approached the shoreline it pulled up, veered to its right and perched under the bridge, one the top of one of the support columns. We continued to watch the peregrine and noticed feathers slowly drifting off of the side of her perch. A closer looked revealed that she was plucking a small, white bird. She had grabbed one of the shorebirds out of the air and was preparing to dine on it.

I once saw a Peregrine Falcon hunt a pigeon from its perch on the Brooklyn Bridge. The pigeon was flying across the East River towards Manhattan when it was struck by the falcon. It floundered clumsily as it tried to right itself, only to be snatched out of the air on a second pass by the falcon. When I was watching the falcon rocketing over Warner Island on Saturday, she was so swift, accurate and elegant that I never saw her capture her prey. I wonder if the Sanderling even saw her coming.

-Click here for more info on Long Island Marine life-

-Click here for more info on birding Dune Road-

- - - - -

Jones Beach, Jones Inlet, Captree, Lily Pond, Dune Rd., Shinnecock Inlet, Ponquogue Bridge, 2/7/2007
-
Red-throated Loon
Common Loon
Horned Grebe
Northern Gannet
Great Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Brant
Northern Shoveler
Canvasback
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Common Eider
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Bufflehead
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
Black-bellied Plover
Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderling
Purple Sandpiper
Dunlin
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Razorbill
Belted Kingfisher
Horned Lark
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Savannah Sparrow
Lapland Longspur
Smith's Longspur
Snow Bunting

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, House Sparrow

Friday, February 09, 2007

Jones Beach sighting

A Smith's Longspur was found at the Jones Beach Nature Center associating with a flock of Horned Larks. This is just the second state record for this species. I'll post more details later. In the meantime, here is the location.

Please note that it is not necessary to walk through the sandy swales looking for the bird (and with all the people that will show up in the morning, it probably wouldn't be a good idea). It has been observed returning to the area nearest the paved trail, which, thankfully, is protected from the wind. Patience is key.

Click images to enlarge

Area overview.


Area detail.

Looking for longspurs (click to enlarge)


I asked Sean if it was better to post a bad photo or no photo. He told me he didn't mind if I posted a bad photo. That said, by the time he set-up his camera, the longspur was a long distance from us. We're going out again in the morning, so, hopefully one of us will get a better shot (most likely him).

Smith's Longspur

(Photo credit - Sean Sime)

A Red-tailed Hawk in Greenwich Village

I just stumbled on a great photo and story about a young Red-tailed Hawk in Washington Square Park. Check it out:

-"Hawk Fest"-

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cold Weather Birds (updated 02/11)

Ambergill Falls in Prospect Park

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Would it be too cliché to say that winter seems to have “returned with a vengence“? I usually don’t mind cold weather but, after being lulled into a false sense of security, yesterday’s single digit windchill was a brutal slap of reality. I knew it was cold but didn’t get the full effect until I removed one of my gloves to change the battery in my camera. Within about 10 seconds my fingers tips began burning. It took about 10 minutes inside my double layer of gloves for that hand to thaw.

The Lower Pool in Prospect Park was completely frozen but the Upper Pool had enough open water to support about 12 Mallards and 3 Buffleheads. In anticipation of the cold snap, Peter had the seed feeders and suet at Breeze Hill fully stocked. Like rush hour in the subway system, the birds were in constant motion. Some were streaming back and forth to the feeders while others were scurrying around on the ground catching the spillage. The American Goldfinches were selfish and aggressive, remaining at the thistle feeder perches, chasing away any bird who came close to their stash of tiny, black seeds. I was pleased but amazed to see that the Pine Warbler was still present and, apparently, very healthy. The minute, yellow bird patiently waited for an opening at the feeders, then quickly snatched up a seed and flew to a perch in an adjacent trees to feed.

-Click here to read about "Winter Warblers"-

Merlin (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

While standing on Breeze Hill watching the birds at the feeders I spotted two adult Red-tailed Hawks circling overhead. One descended into the trees at the west side of the Lullwater. Later, when he flew off towards Lookout Hill I could clearly see very pale head feathering, identifying that individual as ”Ralph“, one of our resident hawks. Earlier in the morning I spotted the female Merlin again on Center Drive. She was perched in an oak tree about 50 yards from the last place that I saw her. She likes to perch at the edge of the road and above the bridle path as flocks of sparrows frequently feed in the dirt that has been tilled by horse hooves. As I was watching her she made a short, looping flight into the woods and returned to a perch a little closer to me. It didn’t appear like she was chasing anything but, what do I know, her eyesight is a lot sharper than mine. Her second perch was in full sunshine and gave me an even better photo opportunity. Maybe she knew that.

Spring Creek water treatment plant (click to enlarge)

(Photo credit - Rob Jett)

Later in the afternoon, Shane and I took a drive out to Nassau County in search of an unusual sighting. We also stopped at Spring Creek to look for the European species of Green-winged Teal, the Common Teal. For reasons I’ll explain later, I can’t go into details about the other bird.

UPDATE:

OK, now that the cat is out of the bag, I'll explain. A retired couple living in Baldwin has several feeders in their backyard. On January 1st they noticed, what they thought, was an oriole at one of the feeders. It became one of their regular backyard visitors. Then, one day, they were looking at the back cover of the Sibley bird guide. It features the Western Tanager page from the book. It was at that point they realized their oriole was, in fact, a Western Tanager. Out of concern for a stampede of birders coming to their home, they decided not to post the information on the Internet. Word of mouth allowed many people to see the bird without disrupting the lives of the homeowners. The information was released via the Rare Bird Alerts recording on Thursday and I was given the "OK" to post an image. As far as I know, the bird is still being seen as recently as 02/10.


Western Tanager on Long Island

(Photo credit - Shane Blodgett)

- - - - -

Prospect Park; Baldwin (Stahl’s backyard); Spring Creek, 2/4/2007
-
Great Blue Heron (Upper Pool.)
Brant
Northern Shoveler
Green-winged Teal (Spring Creek.)
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser (Spring Creek.)
Ruddy Duck
Red-tailed Hawk (2.)
Merlin
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Northern Mockingbird
Pine Warbler (Breeze Hill.)
Western Tanager
Northern Cardinal
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Other common species seen (or heard):
Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Mallard, Herring Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, American Robin, European Starling, Song Sparrow, House Sparrow

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