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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Missed Birds

While I was out of town for the holiday, Shane texted me with another one of his great bird sightings.

I saw the words "Cave Swallow" on my phone and couldn't believe I'd be missing them again (I wrote back asking if he couldn't have waited until I returned to New York). When we did our Big New York State Year, there had been several sightings along the coast that, despite many tries, I did not find. I'm not sure what meteorological or environmental conditions contribute to these birds appearing in the northeast, because they are far from their range. They are normally found in Texas, Mexico, and the Caribbean. I've searched for explanations for this odd, northward autumn migration, but have had little luck. Apparently, Cave Swallows were first noted making semi-regular Fall appearances in New York State around 1990.

On Saturday morning I met Heydi at Coney Island with the hope of spotting one of these unusual birds, but it was not to be. The winds were gusting out of the west at up to 40 miles per hour and birds were few and far between. Small flocks of gulls were hunkered down on the beach with many more diving for fish way off shore. The only highlight was a flock of 10 Purple Sandpipers hanging on to one of the rock jetties east of the fishing pier.

Here's a link to some photos of Cave Swallows taken out at Jones Beach by Luke Ormand.

We tried not to be too discouraged by the wind (and lack of birds) so headed over to Dead Horse Bay and Floyd Bennett Field. Unfortunately, all the optimism in the world can't defeat the one thing that most birds can't tolerate - gale force winds. Maybe next weekend we'll find something new.

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