DVOC Main Page > Field Trips > Field Trip Report

DVOC Field Trip Report
by Chris Walters

January 15, 16, 17, 2005
Montauk, NY

Initially disappointed to find that the boreal owl had vanished from its Central Park perch, nine Montauk Long Island trip participants spent the rest of the January 15-17 weekend scrambling and rallying, finally compiling a list of 89 species. Best birds were Harris' Sparrow, Snowy Owl, Barrow's Goldeneye (male), Razorbills, Cackling Goose, Red-headed Woodpecker, Eurasian Widgeon, American Bittern, Harlequin Duck, Iceland Gull (adult, likely of Kumlien's race), red-phased Screech Owl, and Lesser Black-backed Gull. 25 duck species (plus an uncountable Mandarin Duck) were seen. In addition, the group consumed two bountiful home-cooked breakfasts and a Italian dinner repast at the private home we rented on Shelter Island, courtesy of chef Adrian Binns and food provider Al Kronschnabel (Al's first DVOC Montauk trip was back in 1956--you remember, Eisenhower was President).

The details follow. On Saturday the 15th we all had wonderful views of a juvenile Harris' Sparrow feeding on the ground at Baldwin Town Park. What a handsome plumage this juvenile had! We also had Razorbills (some fairly close) and two pairs of close-in Harlequin Ducks at Pt. Lookout on the Jones Beach Inlet, and we later caught up to the male Barrow's Goldeneye on Long Island's north shore. Peregrine and Merlin were also seen that afternoon. Before dawn Sunday we taped in a red-phased Screech Owl, and photographed it as a Great Horned Owl sounded off in the background. It was then off to the ferry to the mainland for Red-Headed Woodpeckers (one adult, one juvenile) near Sag Harbor, before hitting Montauk's Fort Pond Bay for several Razorbills sitting there on the bay. From Montauk Point and its jetties many Common Eider and several Gannets stood out among all the scoters and Red-breasted mergansers.

That afternoon we coffee'd at Starbucks and lunched at Tully's Seafood before touring the Shinnecock Inlet and dunes. There Bob Horton, a "rookie" on his first Montauk trip, stunned the experts by picking out the Snowy Owl, while others had great looks at a sitting (later flying) adult Iceland Gull likely of Kumlien's race (even though it was all white in the primaries, it had no yellow eye). Further west we parked next to an American Bittern as it fed. Darkness arrived and back we went for beers and lasagna at Shelter Island. Snow started falling lightly at 10 pm, and by Monday morning we had maybe two inches, but the sun came out by 10 am and by that time we'd already scored other successes. These included Eurasian Wigeon and Cackling Goose on the Southampton ponds, and later Lesser Black-backed Gull on a brief revisit to Shinnecock Inlet.

Mystery bird of the trip was undoubtedly an unusual (for us) dark-plumaged Red-throated Loon at Pt. Lookout that some in NY were calling a Pacific Loon. But Adrian correctly said it was not, and other experts from other organizations later agreed. Participants were Erica Brendel and Chris Walters (co-leaders), Bob Krinsky of Manhattan (NY-based DVOCer), President Adrian Binns, former Field Trip Committee chairs Frank Windfelder and Al Kronschnabel, Edie Parnum, and "trip rookies" Debbie Beers and Bob Horton. Naturally, the rookies pulled the KP and kitchen clean-up duties, while the co-leaders "supervised".

Day 1: Central Park; Point Lookout; Jones Beach;Baldwin Town Park; Bayville / Rocky Point; 
Day 2: Shelter Island; Sag Harbor Golf Course; Maidstone; Fort Pond Bay / Tuthill's Pond /
           Culloden Point; Montauk Inlet; Camp Hero State Park; Montauk Point; Shinnecock Inlet
Day 3: Hook Pond (Easthampton); David's Lane Trail; Mill Pond (Water Mill); Fowler Nature
          Walk (Southampton); Agawan Lake; Cooper's Neck Pond; Halsey Neck Pond; 
          Shinnecock Inlet; Swan Lake (East Patchogue)
Red-throated Loon Seen daily in good numbers, including the odd plumaged one at
Point Lookout
Common Loon Up to 25 seen daily
Horned Grebe Seen daily; great looks at Point Lookout
Northern Gannet 2 at Fort Pond Bay and 3 off of Montauk Point
Double-crested Cormorant A few seen daily
Great Cormorant 1 near Culloden Point and 3 at Montauk Inlet
Great Blue Heron 2 at Jones Beach; 1 at Maidstone
American Bittern  1 along Beach Road near Shinnecock Inlet
Mute Swan Up to 20 seen daily
Canada Goose Common seen daily
Cackling Goose 1 at Cooper's Neck Pond
Brant Common seen daily
Mandarin Duck 1 at David's Lane Trail
Eurasian Wigeon 1 male at Cooper's Neck Pond
American Wigeon Up to 15 seen on 2 days
Gadwall Common at Hook Pond and Swan lake
Green-winged Teal 1 at Jones Beach
Mallard Common seen daily
American Black Duck Common seen daily
Northern Shoveler 23 at the north end of Agawan Lake
Northern Pintail 1 at Jones Beach
Canvasback 2 at Tuthill's Pond
Ring-necked Duck 21 at Tuthill's Pond
Greater Scaup 1 at Point Lookout and at least 3 at Cooper's Neck Pond
Lesser Scaup Common at Cooper's Neck Pond
Common Eider Common off of Montauk Point
Harlequin Duck 5 at Point Lookout 
Long-tailed Duck Up to 20 seen daily
Black Scoter Common seen daily
Surf Scoter Common seen daily
White-winged Scoter Seen on 2 days in few numbers than the other 2 scoters
Common Goldeneye 40 + at Bayville / Rocky Point
Barrow's Goldeneye 1 male at Rocky Point
Bufflehead A few seen on 2 days
Hooded Merganser 30+ at Cooper's Neck Pond
Red-breasted Merganser Up to 50 seen daily
Common Merganser Small numbers at each of the ponds on the day 
Ruddy Duck 1 at Cooper's Neck Pond; several at Swan Lake
Northern Harrier Up to 4 seen daily
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1 along the waters edge at Fort Pond Bay
Red-tailed Hawk Up to a dozen seen daily, though scarce at the east end of LI
Merlin 1 at Maidstone and 1 near Shinnecock Inlet
Peregrine Falcon 1 on the tower at Jones Beach
American Coot 1 at David's Lane Trail; several at Swan Lake
American Oystercatcher 12 at Jones Beach
Sanderling Good numbers at Point Lookout and Shinnecock Inlet
Dunlin 6 on the jetty at Point Lookout
Purple Sandpiper 13 along the jetties at Point Lookout
Ring-billed Gull Common seen daily
Great Black-backed Gull Common seen daily
Iceland Gull 1 adult of tehnominate race at Shinnecok Inlet
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 adult at Shinnecock Inlet
American Herrring Gull Common seen daily
Bonaparte's Gull 15 at Point Lookout and 1 at Shinnecock Inlet
Razorbill 5 at Point Lookout and 10+ at Montauk
Rock Pigeon Common!
Mourning Dove 30 plus on the first day
Eastern Screech Owl 2 on Shelter Island; great view of a red morph
Great Horned Owl Heard on Shelter Island
Snowy Owl I hunkered down on the dunes at Shinnecock Inlet
Belted Kingfisher 1 at Mill Pond
Red-headed Woodpecker 1 adult and I juvenile at Sag Harbor Golf Course
Red-bellied Woodpecker A few seen daily
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 heard at David's Lane Trail
Downy Woodpecker A few seen daily
Northern Flicker 1 at Maidstone and 2 at Agawan Lake
Carolina Wren Several seen at Fowler Nature Walk and in Southampton
Gray Catbird 3 at Richard Fowler Nature Walk
Northern Mockingbird A few seen daily
Hermit Thrush 2 seen in Central park; 1 on Shelter Island
American Robin 10-40 seen daily
Black-capped Chickadee Seen daily in small numbers
Tufted Titmouse Seen daily in small numbers usually with BC Chickadees
White-breasted Nuthatch A few seen daily
Blue Jay Seen daily with 40+ at Sag Harbor Golf Course
American Crow Up to 20 seen daily 
Fish Crow 3 heard at Jones Beach
European Starling Common seen daily
House Sparrow Common seen daily
House Finch A few seen in Central Park
American Goldfinch 1 at Baldwin Town Park; 6 at Sag Harbor Golf Course
American Tree Sparrow 1 at Baldwin Town Park
Field Sparrow 1 at Baldwin Town Park
Song Sparrow A few seen daily
Harris's Sparrow 1 stunning immature at Baldwin Town Park
White-throated Sparrow The most common sparrow - 10-30+ seen daily
Northern Cardinal A few seen daily
Red-winged Blackbird Small groups seen on 2 days
Brown-headed Cowbird A flock of 20+ at Jones Beach
Harbor Seal 4 at Point Lookout
Grey Squirrel 1 at Central Park
White-tailed Deer 4 on Shelter Island and 3 near the Ponqougue bridge
Eastern Cottontail Rabbit 1 at Fowler Nature Walk and 1 at Sag Harbor Golf Course