Saturday, January 30, 2010
Owls and Dovekies and More Owls, Oh My!
13 degrees. THIRTEEN DEGREES. Okay, according to our website, less than 20 degrees cancels a field trip. So why were we all bundled up and heading out the door with the thermometer reading 13 degrees? Because we are crazy hard core birders, that's why!
There was a bit of panic on the way up to Pelham Bay Park as I realized that I had left my fleecey layers home, but luckily for me, Travis Turner, son of our conservation chair, John, had his gigantic, warm, incredibly puffy, bright yellow and green Packers down jacket in the trunk. Although I resembled a rather overstuffed field of green grass and daffodils for the rest of the day, the jacket did the trick and kept me reasonably warm. However, it did cause quite a stir among the other birders.
We started out the day with a joint field trip to Pelham Bay Park with the Hudson River Audubon Society to look for roosting owls. A good start was a northern saw whet owl, and we also managed terrific looks at a long eared. At that point, it was just too cold to mill about and stand still, so the HOBAS contingent (myself, John and Travis Turner, Cindy Wozny and Lauren Bryde) headed out for some more active birding. Hoping for pileated and red headed woodpeckers, along with a red shouldered hawk (I had all three there just the week before) we headed up to Rockefeller State Park. Alas, other than the usuals, this walk in the woods netted us nothing more than frozen feet, fingers and nosetips!
After stopping for lunch at a god awful diner, we headed back to Long Island, subtracting Lauren and Cindy and adding Simone DaRos, to try and pick up the dovekie that had become the latest local celebrity.
This tiny little alcid has been causing a sensation in Great River and I confess to the fact that this was my third time stalking it. The word cute doesn't even begin to describe this pint sized auk, who has been motoring over the inlet, eliciting oohs and aaaahs and "he's so cute"s as he dives, preens and swims his way into our hearts. After observing this enchanting little bird for quite some time, and all of us hoping out loud that he makes it, we grabbed the tundra swan in the east marina and next headed over to a random pond in a McDonald's in West Islip where we were treated to the sight of a pair of red head ducks (along with a few others) about as close as one will ever see these beauties.
Next up? Well, because we are hardcore, crazy bad ass birders, John, Travis and myself went out for some more owls after dark! We visited Cushman preserve and Wicks Farm where I gamely tried to call some screech owls in. No luck. Darn! All righty then, let's try one more place...Stillwell Woods!
After traipsing around (and wow, was it freezing again, esp. since the sun had gone down) for what seemed like an eternity, I geared up to call in a screech one more time. Nothing. John looked at me and said, "I am sorry, but you have taken me out twice for owls and twice you haven't produced". Are you kidding me? Was that a challenge? Now I was under the gun...but I belted out my best screech owl call and held my breath. Nothing again. BUT WAIT! Is that what I think it is? HA! It sure was! In fact, it was not only one screech owl, but two! What a great end to what turned out to be 11 hours of very cold, very numbing, very fun birding!!!!!