Friday, January 4, 2008

Townsends Solitaire

I can't believe it's only day 3! I've been going non-stop to pick up the rarities in the area, but I'm afraid my luck has turned a bit. I went out first thing on the 1st for the Townsend's Solitaire at Oak Beach, and spent an hour in the freezing rain with no result. I did spot an Iceland Gull, which may actually be an Iceland/Thayers hybrid. These gulls can be tricky to separate, and it takes a lot of care (and good photos) to ID one for sure (and they're not all ID-able). The next day I came out and stood in the snow and cold for 7 hours (!) waiting for the Townsend's Solitaire to pop up, again without result.  So I headed up to Montauk and where some friends had very generously offered me a place to stay. Got there around 9pm and got up at 6, ready to pick up the Barnacle Goose and the Pink Footed Goose, both of which I'd already seen at Deep Hollow Ranch (in Montauk), and which have been hanging out for many weeks. Well, it looks like the sub-zero temperatures drove even the geese away, and I missed both of them as well. I spent a few frigid hours on the cliffs of Montauk Point looking at the thousands of scoter which were sheltering there, trying to find a King Eider. Again, no dice, though I did get Common Eider, and there was a Harlequin Duck bobbing around the rocks. I also got a quick look at a group of 10 or 20 Common Redpoll who seemed eager to keep moving in the cold weather and high winds.  Next I tried Hook Pond, which can be a good spot for Tundra Swans...this time the pond was completely frozen over, so no Tundras. I did wind up seeing two Lesser Black Backed Gulls, one at Lazy Point ("Larry", a regular there) and another on Dune Road in a parking lot where someone was feeding the gulls. As the sun went down on Dune Road the gulls flew up and flashed yellow on the blue sky...a really nice way to end the day.

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