Tuesday, March 04, 2014

February Birds

I added several year birds during the month of February. While none of them were extremely rare, some were scarce winter specialties that I don't see every year.

At the start of the month I gave up hope that I'd be able to find the Mew Gull that Shane found at the Veterans Memorial Pier in Bayridge. While not nearly as rare, I did manage to spot a Eurasian Wigeon at that location. I usually spot one of these handsome waterfowl a year, and normally in the bay off of Floyd Bennett Field or Gerritsen Creek in Marine Park. Pretty sure this is the first time I've seen one in Bayridge.

One interesting bird that began showing up around NYC and Long Island during the month of February was Rough-legged Hawk. This northern raptor is normally seen in New York State during the winter months in the upstate regions. During irruption years, however, they can be seen around the city. This looks to be one of those years. The one I observed was hunting over Ruffle Bar, off of Floyd Bennett Field. Later that day, while traveling to Hendrix Creek with my birding buddy, she spotted one hovering over the Fountain Avenue landfill. It is the only large hawk that regularly hovers over its prey when hunting.

I don't think I need to remind birders living in the northeast just how unpleasant it was birding in the bitter cold last month. The bottom line is, though, if you want to see winter birds, you might need to sacrifice a finger or toe to the elements.

Last month I made four or five trips to Floyd Bennett Field's grass habitats hoping to find a Lapland Longspur. This sparrow-like arctic bird is scarce around NYC in the winter, normally associating with flocks of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings. The day that I couldn't look for one because I had to go out of town, my friend Heydi located one at Floyd Bennett. Thankfully the bird stuck around for a few days and I managed to find it within a flock of Horned Larks at the small field across from Aviator Sports.

I don't expect to see much change in the status of birds during the first half of March, but by the end of the month a few early Spring migrants should be making their way into our city parks.

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NYS Total: 111
Kings Total: 107

99) Red-shouldered Hawk (Floyd Bennett Field (02/01/14)
100) Eurasian Wigeon (Veterans Memorial Pier (02/04/14)
101) Cedar Waxwing (Green-Wood Cemetery (02/09/14)
102) American Pipit (Fountain Avenue Landfill (02/16/14)
103) Snow Goose (Floyd Bennett Field (02/22/14)
104) Rough-legged Hawk (Floyd Bennett Field (02/22/14)
105) American Kestrel (Gerritsen Creek (02/22/14)
106) Fish Crow (Gerritsen Creek (02/22/14)
107) Lapland Longspur (Floyd Bennett Field (02/25/14)

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