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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Coney Island Birding

Last weekend I spent time at Coney Island doing my typical winter route - walking from West 8th Street, west, to the pier, over to the jetty at the edge of Seagate, then north to Coney Island Creek Park and along the creek's edge to Mark Twain High School. I was hoping to find some arriving winter seabirds.

A strong southwest wind was kicking up the surf making finding birds bobbing in the water challenging, at best. There looked to be lots of gull activity at the inlet adjacent to Breezy Point, but nothing really identifiable at that distance. I did spot a few Bonaparte's Gulls near the jetty at the western end of Coney, as well as, a small number of Northern Gannets offshore. Two Purple Sandpipers were also seen clinging to the rocks at the end of the jetty.

My real hope was to locate at least one White-winged Scoter for the year, but as you can see from this photo, the water was pretty rough. I could make out some flocks of dark waterfowl way off in the distance, which were likely scoters, but again, nothing I could clearly identify, so I headed over to the north side of the peninsula where there would be less wind.

Gravesend Bay and Coney Island Creek were glass calm compared to the south side of the peninsula. Unfortunately, there wasn't much in the way of wildlife there either. There were the usual mixed flocks of Canada Geese, Mallards, black ducks and Mute Swans, plus a few Buffleheads. As I headed towards the soccer fields at Leon Kaiser Park I noticed one bird a little out of place on the creek. It was a Red-throated Loon. These birds are currently migrating through the area and I guess this bird decided to get out of the wind and rest. He actually had his eyes closed most of the time that I was watching him.

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