Lifers indicated in bold
When you're doing a big year, you should make it a priority to get the most common non-migratory species in your area onto your list as early on in the year as possible, then focus on less common species or wait for a rarity you need to be reported. I made it a goal to get all the non-migratory species in New York state by the end of April, and for the most part, I had succeeded. Except two*. The first one, Boreal Chickadee should have been an easy one at Bloomingdale Bog this winter along with Canada Jays and Black-backed Woodpeckers, although that was the one species we missed, along with Northern Shrike (my other two attempts have not been successful either). The second was Eastern Screech-Owl, which I had tried for at Croton Point Park in January and in Manhattan this spring with Max, but did not succeed either time. I have tried to set numerous dates aside over the summer to look for them, but none of them had worked out until now. One night, my grandparents wanted to know if I was interested in going to my cousin’s house for dinner, who happen to live 10 minutes from the owl spot I had in mind, so I was able to convince them to take me to the spot after dinner. We got there around 9:15 and within a few seconds heard several Eastern Screech-Owls. Success!
*There is a third nonmigratory species in New York, Spruce Grouse, which I did not try for because the only reliable spot for them in the state is on private property.
Saw a Least Bittern at DeKorte Park, which I could not get photos of.
We went on a whale watching trip out of Montauk in the hopes of seeing new birds and whales. In total, we saw five Finback Whales, one Minke, one Humpback, four Red-necked Phalaropes, and several Cory's Shearwaters (including one of the nominate subspecies or Scopoli's Shearwater, a split that was proposed the AOS this year but never passed)
Ask most birders in New York what beaches they would recommend for birding, and most will include Cupsogue. Unlike Jones Beach or Nickerson, which I can easily get to and from, Cupsogue is usually a full-day trip for me, so by staying in the Hamptons overnight after the whale watch, I would be able to access Cupsogue more easily. Since I had exhausted all the coastal birds I needed for the year, there were some birds I came to add for my state list: Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit (both of which I had seen in Texas) and Seaside Sparrow (seen in Cape May). I took a path along the bay side of the beach, which I had correctly assumed would have the most shorebirds. I ran into a birder visiting from California (sadly, he did not know either Max or Jonah) who was looking for Glossy Ibis and Saltmarsh Sparrow. After a few minutes, we found several Saltmarsh Sparrows, so I went on to look for the godwit. I spotted it on one sandbar with several Short-billed Dowitchers, but by the time I came back with my camera, it was gone. I later found the godwit and dowitchers on another sandbar with Common Terns, Herring Gulls, two Western Willets, and a Whimbrel. Satisfied with the godwit and three Saltmarsh Sparrows, my mom and I headed for our next spot.
I had planned to go on another boat trip this week in addition to the whale watch from Montauk and the Brooklyn Pelagic: a lighthouse cruise from Orient Point. Normally, I would avoid trips that do not have a biological component, but this was an exception: a Bridled Tern has been roosting on Great Gull Island for the past week, and the boat passes by the island. Unfortunately, it did not go as planned, as the boat was moving too fast for me to get a good look at anything, so I cannot confidently say if I saw it or not. Considering a Bridled Tern was seen by a research vessel in New York waters a month earlier, I may be able to have a second chance later this week...
To be continued…
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