At Jones Beach, we first stopped at the Coast Guard Station parking lot. We scanned the island across the way, hoping for the lingering Marbled Godwit that has been present for weeks, but there was no sign of it among the Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlins, Sanderlings, and two American Oystercatchers. The hedgerow along the Coast Guard fence was quiet except for a Northern Mockingbird. We ran into a few other birders, including Sy Schiff. They told us there wasn't a lot around and no one had seen the godwit. With that negative reports Ed and I decided to head over to the West End 2 parking field. On entering the lot we immediately turned east and started driving along the north edge of the lot. In a short distance I told Ed to stop! On the pavement in front of us was the Common Ground-Dove that has been lingering here for more than a month now.
|Common Ground-Dove, Jones Beach © Joseph DiCostanzo|
After a rest stop Ed and I checked out the "swale" in front of the buildings on the south side of the parking lot. We could see several flocks of landbirds swirling around the area. They were primarily Horned Larks and a good number of Snow Buntings mixed in. The birds kept picking up, flying around and then settling to feed for a minute or so before picking up again. Scanning through the birds on the ground, I quickly picked out a Lapland Longspur - Ed's third life bird before 11 am! I don't know exactly how many longspurs were there since we never saw more than one at a time, but everytime the birds landed it would it would take less than a minute to pick out a longspur. Talking to Tom Burke and others later they said they estimated six to seven longspurs were present. While walking the beach to the east side of Jones Inlet, I spotted another Longspur in a flock of Snow Buntings that landed on the edge of the dunes. At the inlet there was a good group of Common Eiders, perhaps the same birds we had seen earlier from the Point Lookout side. There were also a few Surf and Black scoters.
Later in the morning Ed and I were treated to nice views of a very white Snowy Owl. In keeping with the usual informal rules on reporting owls, I will not mention precisely where we found it, but Snowys have been found around the New York area in the last couple of weeks, but not in the incredible numbers of last winter.
|Snowy Owl © Joseph DiCostanzo|
In the afternoon, Ed and I headed west to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn to try for the continuing Cassin's Kingbird still lingering there. This turned out to be our miss of the day. Another birder told us the kingbird had been spooked by a passing Cooper's Hawk about a half hour before we got there. As far as I know the kingbird was not seen again in the afternoon despite a number of birders looking for it.
I didn't add anything to my New York year list, but it was a great day's birding and any day you can get another birder some nice life birds is a good day.
[UPDATE: Ed sent me an email that when he checked his records he found he had seen Lapland Bunting (as it is known over there) in England in 2010. So he only had two life birds, plus a North American bird. Still, a very good day!]