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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Chris Walters

January 14,15,16, 2006
Montauk, NY

Click here for pictures by Erica Brendel

The 2006 Montauk Trip was memorable for its fierce Sunday weather as a powerful cold front brought steady 30 mph winds, 50 mph gusts and horizontal snow showers across the region. DVOC’s 11 troops soldiered on notwithstanding, tallying 86 species on the trip, as Saturday’s soaking rains never came and Monday’s 15 mph winds seemed tame.

Our first stop (Brooklyn College) yielded 6 Monk Parakeets and a watchful perched Peregrine Falcon. After Marina Park and Floyd Bennett Field padded the list, Eisenhower Park produced great looks at a Greater White-fronted Goose and a pair of Wood Ducks. Wantagh Park failed to display the previously-reported Black Brant, but the consolation prize was satisfying: an adult Cooper’s Hawk calmly perched at just 75 yards. Since lunch at a strip mall “happened” to be right next to a productive pond on Merrick Road nearby, we couldn’t help but add to a waterfowl list that totaled 23 duck species by trip’s end.

At Jones Beach after lunch, Glaucous Gull, Oystercatchers, 80 Snow Buntings and three surprising Tree Swallows kept us busy before the long ride to our ferry and lodgings on remote Shelter Island.

The snow came overnight, and Sunday we awakened to a winter wonderland with the blizzard at full roar. But we had a trump card: a home-cooked breakfast. Thanks, Lydia! Then, off to Montauk Point we went, where we set up scopes at the only viable place: next to the concession building where the howling winds were somewhat blocked. Here through the snowflakes we worked over the thousands of massed scoters and hundreds of eiders before us. In all, six to eight Razorbills, several Gannets, dozens of Common Eider and all three scoters were enjoyed. We then worked west, picking up an adult Red-shouldered Hawk, the first of an amazing 8 Catbirds, and an increasing variety of ducks at jetties and multiple ponds before dark.

Monday we enjoyed another Lydia Reichner breakfast, cleaned up our rented private house, and hit the ferry for the trek to our morning stops. Shorts Pond produced Cackling Goose (but seen by just two of us), we missed the previously-reported Dickcissel, and Shinnecock Inlet’s highlight was a new (for us) lunch spot. We then had fine looks at American Bittern, Greater Yellowlegs and Boat-tailed Grackles on Shinnecock’s Dune Road, followed by 13 beautiful Redheads and a wave of other waterfowl at Eastport Pond and Swan Lake. Participants were Erica Brendel and Chris Walters (co-leaders), Lydia Reichner (head chef), Club Secretary Frank Windfelder, Steve Kacir, Edie Parnum, Debbie Beer, Rob Hynson, Nancy Cooke, Steve Liebhaber, and Fran Hovey.

Itinerary:

Day 1: Brooklyn College, Marina Park, Floyd Bennett Field, Eisenhower Park, Wantagh Park, pond on Route 27, Jones Beach and Pt. Lookout.

Day 2: Shelter Island, Montauk Pt., Camp Hero SP, Montauk Inlet, Tuthill’s Pond, Culloden Pt., Napeague Harbor, Agawam Lake, Cooper’s Neck Pond, Halsey Neck Pond.

Day 3: Shorts Pond, David’s Lane Trail, Hook Pond, Shinnecock Inlet, Dune Rd., Eastport Pond, Swan Lake.

BIRDS  
Common Loon seen daily (many sought shelter around Star Island, Montauk)
Red-throated Loon a few seen daily
Pied-b’d Grebe 1 on pond off Merrick Rd., Wantagh
Horned Grebe 1 or 2 seen daily
No. Gannett several off Montauk Point
Double-crested Cormorant several at Marina Park (Brooklyn)
Great Cormorant 2 at Floyd Bennett Field, 1 at Shinnecock
Great Blue Heron several around ponds
Black-crowned Night Heron 1 immature at Eastport Pond
Am. Bittern 1 along Dune Rd. W. of Shinnecock
Mute Swan 1 found on several ponds
Canada Goose 1 common seen daily
Cackling Goose 1 at Shorts Pond seen by Kacir & Walters
Snow Goose 50 at Shorts Pond
Greater White-fronted Goose 1 at Eisenhower Park
Brant common seen daily
Wood Duck two at Eisenhower Park
Am. Wigeon up to 20 on two days
Gadwall many on Swan Lake and some elsewhere
Mallard common seen daily
Black Duck most at Shinnecock Bay
No. Pintail three at Swan Lake
No. Shoveller a few at Eisenhower Park and the Southampton ponds
Canvasback up to 25 at Eastport Pond
Redhead at least 13 at Eastport Pond
Ring-necked Duck small numbers at multiple spots
Greater Scaup most found at Marina Park
Lesser Scaup common on the Southampton Ponds
Common Eider hundreds off Montauk Point
Long-tailed Duck common from Shelter Island ferry
Black Scoter thousands off Montauk Point
Surf Scoter most numerous scoter at Montauk Point
White-winged Scoter 10 off Montauk Point
Common Goldeneye one drake at Shinnecock Bay
Bufflehead a few seen each day
Hooded Merganser up to 15 at Swan Lake, Eastport Pond, and pond off Merrick Rd. Wantagh
Red-breasted Merganser common at Montauk inlet and other coastal spots
Common Merganser several at Hook Pond
Ruddy Duck up to 10 at Marina and Eisenhower Parks
No. Harrier one at Jones Beach
Cooper’s Hawk beautiful perched views of adult – Wantagh park
Red-t’d Hawk 2 at Loop Causeway to Pt. Lookout
Red-shouldered Hawk 1 adult at Horsefarm at Hither Hills
Peregrine Falcon Brooklyn College
Coot ponds throughout
Oystercatcher several seen from Jones Beach Coast Guard Station
Black-bellied Plover several seen from Jones Beach Coast Guard Station
Greater Yellowlegs one lonely individual along Dune Rd., Shinnecock
Sanderling many seen from Jones Beach bayside; l at Shinnecock
Dunlin several at Shinnecock area
Ring-billed Gull common seen daily
Herring Gull common seen daily
Great Black Backed Gull common seen daily
Glaucous Gull 1 from Jones Beach Coast Guard Station
Bonaparte’s Gull 20/25 at Montauk Pt.
Razorbill 6 to 8 at Montauk Pt.; 1 off Shinnecock Inlet
Rock Pigeon common seen daily
Mourning Dove small numbers seen daily
Monk Parakeet nesting at Brooklyn College
Belted Kingfisher 1 heard at Wantagh park
Downy Woodpecker a few seen daily
Flicker 1 seen along road near Sag Harbor
Horned Lark 1 flushed from road at Napeague Harbor
Tree Swallow three perched at Jones Beach
Carolina Wren David Lane, Easthampton
Gray Catbird unusually high total of 8 seen
Mockingbird 1 seen daily
Hermit Thrush David Lane, Easthampton
Am. Robin David Lane, Easthampton
Black-capped Chickadee seen daily in small numbers
Tufted Titmouse seen daily in small numbers
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 at Marina Park, Brooklyn
White-breasted Nuthatch off Rt. 27 in Water Mill
Blue Jay a few seen daily
Am. Crow uncommon but seen daily
Starling common seen daily
House Sparrow common seen daily
House Finch 2 seen at Wantagh Park
Am. Goldfinch flock of 20 at Floyd Bennett Field
Savannah Sparrow 1 at Wantagh Park
Song Sparrow a few seen daily
White-throated Sparrow a few seen daily
No. Junco a few seen on two days
Snow Bunting 80 in 2 flocks at Jones Beach
No. Cardinal several seen daily
Boat-t’d Grackle 2 along Dune Rd., Shinnecock