|Ring-necked Pheasant © Joseph DiCostanzo|
Sunday morning Ann slept in and I took a taxi to the pavilion at Montauk Point State Park, getting there around sun-up. It was a lovely morning. I immediately spotted Northern Gannets flying off-shore. There were also thousands of scoters of all three species and probably about a thousand Common Eiders; also Common and Red-throated loons, Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers and a few other species. The ducks were doing what I call their "conveyor belt" routine. As you watch to the north from the pavilion the outgoing tide carries the ducks eastward. When they get to a certain point off the point they takeoff and fly back westward into the Sound. Thus watching from the shelter of the pavilion you have a constant stream of birds to scan through. I was hoping for a King Eider on the "conveyor". Most of the birds are fairly far out, but with a spotting scope an adult male King Eider is pretty distinctive. To my disappointment, none appeared. Then, much closer in I noticed a smaller looking female eider flying westward just a little way off-shore. It obligingly dropped in just west of the pavilion and enabled me to confirm it was a female King Eider, most easily identified by its bill shape - smaller and not as sloping in profile as a female Common Eider's. This was # 300 for the year! A few minutes later I spotted four Razorbills flying by further out. Any alcid is always a welcome sight anywhere from shore on Long Island, but these were not new for my year list since I had seen hundreds on an of-shore pelagic trip last winter. Later Ann joined me at the Point. By this time the "conveyor belt" had shut down - probably the tidal conditions had changed, but there were at least a thousand Common Eiders now sitting on the water just off the Point.
|Montauk lighthouse © Joseph DiCostanzo|
|Le Conte's Sparrow, Floyd Bennett Field, Nov 30, 2014 © Sean Sime|
There is still one month left in 2014, but it has been a fabulous year and I am content.
At least for now.
Birders are after all, basically somewhat crazy.