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Showing posts from 2013

Top 3 Summer Highlights - 2013

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1) White-faced Storm-Petrel, Block Canyon, August 20, 2013:
It was August 19th when I received an email from John Shemilt that he was looking for a 3rd individual to join his team, on August 20th, to hunt for the much sought after Big-Eye Tuna in the Hampton Offshore Invitational fishing tournament out of Shinnecock Inlet. How could I resist? I scrambled around a bit, made sure things were squared away at work and decided to jump in on this last minute invite to try and catch a tournament winning fish. John had caught a nice Big-eye not long ago and was hoping to repeat during tournament week. I should mention that John and Keegan are both expert pelagic birders, so for obvious reasons I enjoy spending time with them. Fishing while birding, or birding while fishing? I'm pretty sure it doesn't get any better than that. I have to say, August 20th was a very slow day offshore, both for birds and fish, but that's just how it goes sometimes.

We blasted off out of Shinnecock at …

Godwits on Long Island, NY - Early August 2013

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Its been quite a while since my last blog post, 2 months to be exact. The Summer tends to grab a hold of me as I'm busy working 2 jobs, attending weddings, parties, etc. There is much less time for me to enjoy the outdoors and go birding. And when the birding opportunities come about, I always feel rushed, like I have to think about where and what I'm going to have to do next. For this reason, I now have to choose my birding locations strategically and hope to maximize my time. I always look forward to the Fall when I can get back into my groove and spend hours upon hours wandering sites looking at birds and enjoying nature.

This week was one of those weeks where I had to squeeze in my birding. I decided that Jones Beach West End would become a morning routine. It is more or less on the way into my office and if I got there early enough I could get in a solid hour or so of birding at the Coast Guard Station. Why go to Jones Coast Guard Station? Its a great location to comfort…

1st Summer Arctic Tern - Cupsogue Beach County Park

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I came across another Arctic Tern on 6/5/13, at Cupsogue Beach County Park. A 1st Summer type individual that put on quite a show and I watched intently. I first noted the bird sitting along the edge of a large group of Common Terns. Also in the mix were a few Forster’s and Roseate Terns. The Arctic Tern exhibited uniform grey primaries, as they always do and this was one of the first major keys that tipped me off on the bird. This, along with a more rounded head shape, extensive black on cap dipping beneath the birds eye, and seemingly shorter black bill pointed directly Arctic Tern. The bird was standing on a firm surface of sand, therefore the short leg length was obvious and apparent. After about 15 minutes of viewing, the bird took off toward the east marsh, showed off its wing pattern and lent a few squeaky call notes. The bird took a 5 minute hiatus, returned to the flats, and decided to land within 20 feet of me! The tern continued to loaf and preen for quite a while before it…

Weekend Highlight - Arctic Tern

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It was a fairly long week at work, even though Monday was a holiday it still felt long. All I could think about was waking up early on Saturday and birding the flats at Cupsogue Beach County Park to study some terns. I really wanted to find an Arctic Tern, the furthest traveling migrant in the world. Arctic Terns breed in the Arctic and spend their winters in Antarctica making roughly up to a 44, 000 mile round trip per year. The majority of their migration takes place over open sea, where their buoyant, seemingly effortless wing beats carry them across the ocean. Every year, a handful of Long Island birders get lucky enough to view these birds as they touch down on the island for a quick rest stop. 

On 5/20/13, I finally got to study my first, real life Arctic Terns out on the flats at Cupsogue Beach with Shai Mitra. Despite the rolling fog I was able to make out the 2 individuals that Shai had found, both subtly differing from one another. Having Shai’s expert commentary on the sidel…

Meopta Mud Hens - 30th Annual World Series of Birding Recap

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Before I begin, I'd like to extend a tremendous thank you to Meopta Sports Optics for sponsoring our team in this years efforts. It was a true honor to have such a reputable optics company support our team. Meopta has pioneered the industry with their top of the line equipment and, without question, has developed some of the worlds finest optics in the game. I raise my binocs to Meopta for supporting bird conservation efforts in the Northeast.

The Meopta Mud Hens consisted of 3 members. Chase Cammarota, James "the Godfather" Blumenstein, and myself, Derek Rogers. We were missing our 4th member this year, my brother, Chris Rogers. He was busy cheering us on and tending to his newborn daughter Braelyn Lily Rogers. Perhaps she'll be entering in the World Series of Birding in the near future. The Mud Hens chose to participate in the LGA category (Limited Geographic Area) as we have done in previous years. The LGA is fun, challenging, tiring and saves a bit of gas guzzli…

Grasshopper Sparrows

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The day started off pretty well. I led a bird walk at the David Weld Sanctuary in Nissequogue with some friends. Despite the lack of migration movement the typical, site faithful breeders were in and put on a nice show. My first of season Common Terns were working the outside of the Nissequogue River, calling and dipping into the shallow bar. The wind was calm this morning and it looked like a perfect day to be out on the Sound. I was envious of the terns. We were eventually seen off by a female Orchard Oriole near the parking area. The morning ended just a bit too quickly and I was off to Calverton Ponds Preserve where some minor trail work needed to be taken care of. I decided to swing by the grasslands in Calverton, also known as EPCAL. EPCAL sits just north of the preserve, seperated by Grumman Boulevard. There is a section of grassland along the north end of Grumman Boulevard where one can pull off to the shoulder and have a decent view of the landscape. My interest was to see if…

Red-necked Phalarope on Dune Road, Hampton Bays

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I had a conversation with Peter Polshek this morning about birds we've being seeing and, of course, birds we hope to see. At some point in the conversation I said, "I'd like to find a Red-necked Phalarope today" while reminiscing of last year's Mecox bird.

I had plans to meet friend Bruce Horwith and his brother Michael, who was in from Colorado, for a morning of birding in the Dune Road area. We started off at Road K. The tide was low and still receding and the flats were well exposed. Many usual suspects were in sight like Dunlin, Piping Plover, Black-bellied Plover and my first of season Willets. Moving on to Shinnecock Inlet, where we saw hundreds of mixed scoters stacked along the shoreline, some in flight, occupying much of the offshore action.

We doubled back to Dune Road and noted some nice flats exposed on the bay side across from Road L. We scoped across to the distant flats but it took some time to figure out that there was Red-necked Phalarope, tucke…

Yellow-throated Warblers on Long Island

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The Yellow-throated Warbler, Dendroica dominica, is the most handsome of its tribe. This is of course my own opinion and I've long debated which Dendroica might win the prize. The Dendroica genus undoubtedly contains an array of spectacular looking wood warblers. Blackburnian once held the number 1 spot, then Cerulean. But now I am convinced that the Yellow-throated Warbler is the most striking of them all.

Their name suits them quite well. They have a bright yellow throat that extends down the upper chest in an almost "bib-like" fashion. Notice the black face pattern that strongly contrasts with, and outlines, the upper yellow throat area. This, combined with slaty gray upper parts and some black flank streaking, makes for a great looking bird. 

Yellow-throated Warblers are still an uncommon sight on Long Island and in New York. Much of their breeding range is south and west of New York within New Jersey and Pennsylvania, where two known populations breed. The nominate,…

Black Brant at Timber Point Country Club

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I was on my way home from work this evening and decided to follow up on Pat Lindsay's reported Black Brant from yesterday. Pat had a single Black Brant among a flock of about 35 Pale-bellied (Atlantic) Brant at Hecksher State Park early yesterday afternoon. Well it just so happened that I as at Hecksher State Park yesterday morning and likely saw the same flock of Brant at a distance. I birded my way over to flock but they were gone. They warm Spring day had the park crawling with recreational activity and the birds eventually took off. "Oh well, they were probably all Pale-bellieds." Of course, a couple hours later the post came in about Pat's Black Brant, Branta bernicla nigricans.

I have yet to see this Pacific Coast subspecies and usually take the time to detail for them. Needless to say I was anxious to get back to Hecksher. I shot over right after the post but the Brant were gone and the rest of my day was filled with Easter plans. So as I was saying, I decide…

iScoping With Meopta Equipment

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I've been digiscoping birds and wildlife, with an iPhone (iScoping), for almost 2 years now. It all started when I tried to iScope a Vesper Sparrow at Smith Point County Park by manually holding my phone up to my scope's eyepiece. I was amazed at how well the iPhone camera matched up with my eyepiece. Months passed and I began to think of how I could invent some sort of adapter that allowed me to iScope birds with a more "hands free" approach that allowed for instant camera to eyepiece line-up. I spent way too much time fumbling around, trying to find the sweet spot and I ended up missing many birds. I was a little late in thinking I had this great invention idea as I found out that Meopta Sports Optics had already did the work for me! They created the Meopix Adapter. A snug mount that securely fits over your iPhone with a built in mount that perfectly aligns the iPhones camera with your scopes eyepiece.

Many of you may have already seen my post back in early Septem…

Weekend Wildlife - Grey Seal & Cackling Goose

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Slowly getting back into the routine after my trip abroad, readjusting to the cold weather but more so to life with a stomach. I contracted some weird bug in Panama, still waiting to find out exactly what, but was finally back on my feet today. I took the dog for a quick walk at Smith Point this morning, which was dead, as far as bird life went. Very slim by way of land birds so I took to the ocean side to have a quick gander. A decent number of White-winged Scoters were within scoping reach of the beach. Other than that, slim pickings. I noticed a dark object resting on the beach, just east of the outer beach entrance. As I approached, I saw what was an obvious Grey Seal pup. Its body looked to be in good condition and I finally saw its eye open (it's alive!), scoping from about 50 feet away. The 30 pound pup started slowly crawling up toward the dunes. I managed some photos as the seal made its ascent. I didn't highlight any photos that showed it, but the seals left eye had…

Goosin' Again - Ross's

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I only had a couple of hours to bird on Saturday, 1/2/13, so I decided to stick somewhat locally and search for some waterfowl. I checked all of the nearby goose roosts, my favorite being West Brook Pond in North Great River. West Brook continues to have solid goose numbers but the Greater White-fronted disappeared after the recent freeze event. I decided to head south to Timber Point Golf Course in south Great River. Timber Point is an attractive site for birding. The course runs along the west side of the mouth of the Connetquot River. I've seen Dovekie here, in the channel near the police basin, as well as Tundra Swan in the course ponds.

Lately, all I've been seeing is the same flock of brant but knew it was only a matter of time until a Canada herd developed. The County annually hires a "goose chaser." Some young guy with a Collie that bumps back and forth between West Sayville Golf Course, and here at Timber Point, chasing geese around all day. It doesn't s…