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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Chris Walters

January 14-16, 2012
Montauk, NY

This is the MONTAUK field trip report for January 14-16, 2012, with highlights of Pacific Loon, Barnacle Goose, Eared Grebe, Snowy Owls, Razorbills resting on the surf, American Bitterns, Barn Owl, Red-necked Grebe, and Iceland (Kumlien's) Gull. We tallied 33 species of ducks, geese, loons, and grebes, with an overall species count of 90. This was the 24th straight year that DVOC has run this winter trip to Montauk. Neither Pacific Loon nor Barnacle Goose had been seen on previous trips. Seven DVOCers joined the trip this year.

The trip began by hop-scotching along the bays and inlets of southern Long Island, enjoying Eared and Red-necked Grebes, a Barn Owl, and a well-seen and rare Pacific Loon, studied as it slowly drifted in Jones Beach Inlet. After collapsing in our commodious rented house on Shelter Island overnight, we lunched the next day at Montauk Point while watching Razorbills feeding off the surf, as well as witnessing the most magnificent scoter spectacle on the East Coast: thousands of scoters of all three species moving in waves in front of us, with Common Eiders, gannets, loons, horned grebes, red-breasted mergansers and occasionally razorbills mixed in. Before day's end, we added a Barnacle Goose, two Snowy Owls, two American Bitterns, and a host of waterfowl to our list.

After a homemade spaghetti dinner at our Shelter Island house, we drew in a rufous-phased Screech Owl in the backyard.

On the way home we opted for Long Island's north fork, picking up a number of new species incl'g an adult Iceland (Kumlien's) Gull, which kindly posed for our photos as we largely ignored the Lesser Black-backed Gull further down the beach. Our route:

FIRST DAY: Owl's Head Park and Floyd Bennett Field (Brooklyn), Jamaica Bay NWR and Howard Beach (Queens), Pt. Lookout and Jones Beach.

SECOND DAY: upland woods at Amagansett, Ft. Pond/Ft. Pond Bay/Tuthill's Pond, Montauk Inlet jetties, Camp Hero SP, Montauk Point, Napeague Harbor/Goff's Pt., Eastport Lake, Shinnecock's inlet and Dune Road.

THIRD DAY: Orient Pt. SP, Marratooka lake, Mattituck inlet, Long Island Sound at Pier Avenue, Calverton and Grumman grasslands.

Common Loon - up to 30 per day
Red-throated Loon - at least 20 per day
Pacific Loon - Jones Beach inlet: excellent view of this rarity
Eared Grebe - off 10th road in Howard Beach’s Broad Channel
Horned Grebe - good numbers in coastal areas
Red-necked Grebe - one off Floyd Bennett field
Pied-billed Grebe - several in larger ponds
No. Gannet - many adults off Montauk Pt.
Great Cormorant - several in flight on north shore
Double-crested Cormorant - small numbers in Jamaica Bay
American Bittern - two along Dune Rd., Shinnecock
Great Blue Heron - seen each day
Black-c’n Night Heron - one immature at Jamaica Bay NWR’s west pond
Mute Swan - several lakes
Snow Goose - Broad Channel off Howard Beach
Canada Goose - abundant
Barnacle Goose - one at Eastport Lake, as advertised
Brant - many in coastal areas
Mallard - ubiquitous
Black Duck - near protected mudflats
Pintail - Marratooka Lake (north fork)
Gadwall - at most open ponds
American Wigeon - several inland ponds
Shoveller - many in East Pond, Jamaica Bay NWR
Green-winged Teal - Marratooka Lake (north fork)
Canvasback - one at Ft. Pond (Montauk); others as Eastport Lake
Redhead - eight at Eastport Lake
Ring-necked Duck - a group at Tuthill’s Pond (Montauk)
Greater Scaup - abundant at Marratooka Lake and Jamaica Bay NWR
Common Eider - hundreds in Montauk area
Harlequin Duck - three at Pt. Lookout
Long-tailed Duck - all oceanside spots
White-winged Scoter - hundreds at Montauk Pt.
Surf Scoter - thousands at Montauk Pt.
Black Scoter - thousands at Montauk Pt.
Common Goldeneye - Montauk inlet; Mattituck inlet; Orient Pt.
Bufflehead - common in bays and inlets
Hooded Merganser - common in inland lakes, ponds
Red-breasted Merganser - at all salt water spots
Ruddy Duck - abundant at Jamaica Bay’s West Pond
Sharp-shinned Hawk - one at Owl’s Head Park
Bald Eagle - immature over Eastport Lake
Harrier - Dune Rd., Shinnecock
Red-tailed Hawk - several around Grumman grasslands
Kestral - hovering over Grumman grasslands
Wild Turkey - drive-by flock at Mecox
Coot - abundant at Jamaica Bay NWR
Sanderling - one coastal group
Dunlin - a few along coast
Bonaparte’s Gull - at inlets and Owl’s Head Park
Ring-billed Gull - common seen daily
Herring Gull - common seen daily
Iceland Gull - adult Kumlien’s at regular Pier Ave. site
Lesser Black-b’d Gull - Pier Ave. on Long Island Sound
Great Black-backed Gull - a few each day
Razorbill - nice looks at several nesting on ocean at Montauk Pt.
Rock Pigeon - no problem
Mourning Dove - a few each day
Barn Owl - in his box at Jamaica Bay NWR
Snowy Owl - one at Goff Point; another at Dune Rd., Shinnecock
Eastern Screech Owl - rufous-phased: in our Shelter Island backyard
Red-bellied Woodpecker - in upland woods off Stony Hill Rd., Amagansett
Downy Woodpecker - a few seen daily
Flicker - a couple at Floyd Bennett Field
Blue Jay - very few
American Crow - fair numbers daily
Black-capped Chickadee - common seen daily
Tufted Titmouse - several in Amagansett woods and on Shelter Island
White-breasted Nuthatch - upland woods Amagansett and on Shelter Island
Carolina Wren - heard daily
Robin - scarce
Catbird - one in upland woods off Stony Hill Rd. Amagansett
Mockingbird - seen daily
Starling - throughout
Yellow-rumped Warbler - one near Grumman grasslands
Yellowthroat - one at Orient Beach St. Pk.
Cardinal - several daily
Eastern Towhee - three in woods off Stony Hill Rd. Amagansett
Chipping Sparrow - ten in Calverton sparrow flock
Field Sparrow - several in same Calverton flock
Song Sparrow - everywhere
Swamp Sparrow - on in Calverton sparrow flock
Savannah Sparrow - several in wet spots near Grumman grasslands
White-throated Sparrow - various spots
Meadowlark - several in Grumman grasslands
Slate-colored Junco - various spots
Red-winged Blackbird - several fly-by flocks
Common Grackle - one fly-over
House Sparrow - not rare
House Finch - several spots