My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

January Birding on Long Island

Published January 14, 2015
Tags: Life List Happenings, Pink-footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Common Eider, Great Cormorant, King Eider, Harlequin Duck, Snow Bunting, Common Raven, Black Scoter, Eared Grebe

Another kingbird lost its way and, somehow, wound up in Manhattan.  The beautiful, lemony yellow colored bird was first noticed on Christmas Day by a Manhattan resident who told a birder friend that this bird, similar to a goldfinch, was coming by his apartment building.  Things got exciting pretty fast and within a day, the bird was identified as a Couch's Kingbird and birders from all over were coming to see it.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get down there to see it before the little guy presumably succumbed to frigid temperatures that moved into the area.  A group of four of us (Willie, Celeste, Dean, and I) finally embarked on a quest to try and find him this past weekend but, in spite of one "weak" report of a possible flyover, the tropical bird was never found.

Our group stayed for a few more days, though, and found some other Long Island goodies. The biggest highlight, thanks to Shai Mitra and Pat Lindsay, was a Pink-footed Goose that, incredibly, was a life bird for all of us!

The Pink-footed Goose is a little smaller than a Snow Goose and breeds in the tundra. It winters in the British Isles and the Netherlands and is a rare visitor to the Northeastern United States, but appearances have been increasing, most likely due to growing populations and climate change.

Another life bird for me during our trip was the Barnacle Goose.  This is another rare, but fairly regular visitor to the northeastern United States.  It's also rather small and is striking in appearance with its white face and dark eyeline.

At Point Lookout, I was thrilled to finally see a long-term wish list bird, the Common Eider. There were about fifty at this location and then close to a thousand at Shinnecock Inlet the next day. It was a good time of year to have my first sightings as they're all in breeding plumage now. The males are very handsome and I was thrilled to get such nice views!

A Great Cormorant made an appearance as we were looking over the Common Eiders, a female King Eider, and a pair of Harlequin Ducks. The cormorant was a life bird too and I was able to get good scope views that showed the major field marks that Willie pointed out. It definitely looked different than the familiar Double-crested Cormorant; its overall larger size and the gray bill with a yellow base were the biggest feature differences I observed.

On the second-last day, I saw my last life bird, a Razorbill, while we were ocean-watching at Shinnecock Inlet. Celeste picked up on the alcid (web-footed, marine, diving birds) as she was scanning and Willie and I were able to get on it quickly.  It eventually landed and we got a few more minutes to study it as it popped up after its dives. The waves didn't allow very good views, but at least we were able to watch it a little longer than we would have had it continued on.

On the last day, we debated on trying for the Couch's Kingbird one last time but decided not to invest the time since there had been no more sightings. Instead, we went to Jones Beach and enjoyed a couple of walks around the vast expanse of habitat that yielded a couple of Northern Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, Horned Larks, and a pair of Northern Pintails and a Black-crowned Night Heron at a nearby pond.

It was a great, "birdy" trip at a time of year that's usually pretty quiet and uneventful.  It has me looking forward to my next visit!
bird photo
Common Raven seen flying over apartments in Manhattan
bird photo
A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker right in downtown Manhattan
bird photo
Barnacle Goose at Belmont Lake SP (top center)
bird photo
Barnacle Goose (top left) in flight with some Canada Geese
bird photo
Shai and Willie at Point Lookout
bird photo
A pair of Harlequin Ducks at Point Lookout
bird photo
Handsome male Harlequin Duck!
bird photo
Male Harlequin Duck
bird photo
Great Cormorant
bird photo
Great Cormorant
bird photo
Black Scoter at Point Lookout
bird photo
Eared Grebe at Point Lookout
bird photo
Pink-footed Goose
bird photo
Pink-footed Goose
bird photo
Pink-footed Goose
bird photo
Pink-footed Goose interacting with a Canada Goose
bird photo
Beautiful, male Common Eider at Shinnecock Inlet
bird photo
Distant photo of a 2nd year male King Eider at Shinnecock Inlet
bird photo
Snow Buntings on the beach at Shinnecock Inlet
bird photo
Snow Bunting
Reply from: Lynn on 1/14/2015 3:10 PM
 Sounds like a very successful trip. The Pink Footed Goose is so interesting.