Brown Booby at Cupsogue Beach County Park - 7/5/2012

Today at 1415 a Brown Booby flew eastbound, across the sand flats at Cupsogue Beach County Park. The bird completely struck me by surprise but I did not hesitate to quickly shout, “Brown Booby!” I was scanning around the flats, located in the approximate pin-pointed area on the map below when I noticed a “different” looking bird coming straight at me from the west. My brain scanned, I waited, then waited and the Brown Booby flew right past me, offering great looks. Accompanied by Arie Gilbert, I turned to him once the bird made some distance toward the east. We responsibly debated the other options, but quickly firmed my initial thought and sighting as a Brown Booby. Arie was fast with the shutter and managed to snap these photos. While not award winning, we were excited to see that they helped firm that the bird was indeed a Brown Booby.
Yellow pin indicates our stationary position when the Brown Booby crossed our path headed east.

In the solid 30 seconds of viewing, as the booby flew toward us, past us and to the distance, there were several physical characteristics that stood out. First, was the bird's overall, dark brown upperside which contained no mottling or white upper-tail coverts. While not entirely visible on Arie's photos, the bird exhibited a yellowish bill and legs. The bill color is one of the main features that led me to believe this bird was a little further along than its 1st year. The lighting was variable as the bird flew from west to east. The underside appeared to be a bit lighter than that of a juvenile, which I know can be variable. There was a noticeable contrast between the dark throat/chest area and its lighter, one-toned belly.  I also thought it was interesting to see the bird where we did, flying relatively low over the flats, which were well exposed. The bird banked some quick, low turns, and a couple of times had me hoping it would land. We watched it disappear in the distant east.

See the Black Tern? Lower left of center


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  2. Wow! You are certainly a vigilant scanner of wildlife. In August of 89’ (had to look it up amongst my uncountable number of bird notes) I had a brown booby on my Shinnecock bike route I peddled almost every night. It was during Hurricane Hugo and it dam near blew the tires off my rims. Long story short I’ve seen one too. Great find and post!
    P.S. Yes, I see that black tern in the lower left corner. Thank you, Bob

    1. Hi Bob,

      Wow! Sounds like an amazing and intense sighting. Was curious how many New York State records there were for Brown Booby. I know there's not many! Glad you too got to enjoy one. Thanks for the nice comments!

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    3. Bob,

      Hurricane Hugo affected LI in September of 89'. Did you actually find that 'bird note'? Still a great recount my friend, post on!

    4. Eden,

      Your quite sharp and you're right. I was going off memory a bit not trusting my notes to be honest. My old bird data resembles a supermarket trash can full of receipts. My last decade of notes is digitized and I am working on imputting all of the older findings.

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  5. Hey Derek,

    Site is sweet bro. You should link on birdingonthenet and other sites along with your report posts so you get the traffic this site deserves. Been reading quite a bit. Where was that background picture taken from? I know I already congratulated you on the brown booby, but here's a cyber high five for such a sweet report. Having that camera ready that fast for a fly by is impressive!


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