Tuesday, January 12, 2016

January 12 - Chasing rarities on western Long Island

I spent the day with a friend chasing some of the rare water birds and other rarities that have been reported on western Long Island in recent days. We started at Unqua Lake in East Massapequa looking for Ross's Goose. Though it had been reported earlier in the morning, there was no sign of it when we arrived in late morning. Among the Canada Geese was an individual with an orange neck collar which I have reported to the US Bird Banding Laboratory. It will be interesting to see where this bird was banded - if it was locally, or further afield.
neck collared Canada Goose 01/12/2016
We searched for the Ross's Goose in other nearby locations and for a second Ross's that had been seen, but with no luck. We had more luck finding a group of nine previously reported Long-billed Dowitchers on Santapoque Creek in Babylon. Five of the group are shown below.
Long-billed Dowitchers 01/12/2016
Before leaving the area, we made one last stop back at Unqua Lake and were rewarded this time with the Ross's Goose floating on the lake with the other waterfowl.
Ross's Goose with Black Ducks and Canada Goose 01/12/2016
Also present on the lake were many Hooded Mergansers and Canada Geese. On Avon Lake in Amityville there were over thirty Redheads.

Heading back to the city we went to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens to search for the rarities reported there recently. In a small croup of Dark-eyed Juncos we found the previously reported Lark Sparrow. I was only able to get a poor shot of the bird perched up in a bush.
Lark Sparrow 01/12/2016
I was unable to get any pictures of the Clay-colored Sparrow that has also been lingering in the park. We found the Clay-colored with another group of juncos later feeding on the ground near a skateboard area.

The other raritiy we were chasing here were a couple of Cackling Geese that had been seen with the large Canada Goose flock. A few minutes searching we spotted the two Cackling Geese. Nearby in another part of the Canada Goose flock was a lone adult Snow Goose. With a couple of Brant seen earlier in the day, this made for a five goose day.
Cackling Geese 01/12/2016 
Formerly considered a race of the larger Canada Goose, they are distinguished by their smaller size and much dainter bill. Below is a picture of the two Cackling Geese with a Canada Goose for comparison.
Canada Goose and two Cackling Geese 01/12/2016
On the way back to the car we were treated to two adult Bald Eagles soaring overhead and a Pine Warbler on the edge of the parking lot. Altogether, a very successful day's birding!

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