The south shore of Long Island, NY, has been productive recently. Last weekend I was able to my third Snowy Owl from a very safe distance on the beach. Unfortunately not everyone was so considerate... as they do every time one of these Arctic gems appear, the photogs (unseen for the rest of year) jump into action and do their best to harry the owls. Luckily there is plenty of barrier beach to go around, and the two or three birds hanging around Jones Beach last weekend did not show today. Also present last weekend were a pair of Short-beaked Common Dolphins that had accidentally swam into an inlet and mistook a boat basin for an oceanic exit. After nearly a week in the channel, the two were successfully scared back out into open waters by those terrifying things we call boats. Cetacean lifer!
Today some of the young birders of downstate New York gathered at the same beach for an unofficial walk. 6 members of the New York State Young Birders Club were able to make it. The Snowies had since departed, but several thousand scoters, a couple of eiders (including what turned out to be a distant King) and a Peregrine Falcon amused us. At our next beach location, Point Lookout, we eventually found our extroardinary target: Harlequin Duck. The east coast population of Harlequin is quite small, and the site we visited is probably the most reliable place to find them in the state. We all enjoyed close views of a male and female diving for crabs and the like. At our final destination for the day, the Massapequa Preserve, we quickly located the interesting shorebirds: Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher and Wilson's Snipe. At another pond we easily located a distant Eurasian Wigeon, which was only my second for NY state (1st for Nassau County). It's pretty embarassing since multiple birds often winter on the North Shore of the island!
And for the human drama of the day... one of the members and his father locked their keys inside their van. Eventually they pried the back vent-type window open a little and attempted to use a wire to unlock a door. That was too difficult, so they asked someone at the residence they had parked in front of for hedgeclippers. They snapped part of the mechanism that held the window to the van and the member slid through the window. A great day! And after all the excitement, I saluted the anatid highlights of the day by devouring a duck breast for dinner.