2 Nov 2008 - Vesper Sparrow, siskins, kittiwakes and very large gull numbers off Montauk

I spent the middle portion of the day visiting various spots near East Hampton, Long Island. A VESPER SPARROW, presumably one of the three found by Joe Giunta's SOFO walk on Saturday, continues at the Hither Hills State Park Campground along with a FIELD SPARROW and a small flock of CHIPPING SPARROWS. Several flocks of finches came bounding down the beach and I logged 150+ PINE SISKIN and 100+ AMERICAN GOLDFINCH in less than an hour. 10 COMMON EIDER were on the ocean - not a typical spot for them.

Theodore Roosevelt County Park in Deep Hollow was relatively quiet but I noted 8 AMERICAN PIPIT, 40 KILLDEER, 2 PURPLE FINCH and a BROWN CREEPER. I did not find anything of note on the horse pasture south of the highway at Deep Hollow but kept thinking I could hear the higher pitched honk of a Cackling Goose! Dave Klauber's report suggests I wasn't totally off base but I am puzzled why I could not lay eyes on the bird.

The numbers of gulls off Montauk Point are absolutely spectacular. Shortly after midday, LAUGHING GULLS were streaming past the restaurant in their hundreds, with many Ring-billed Gulls mixed in. Unfortunately most of the large gulls were cutting overland and I could not watch both streams. The highlight of the spectacle were 3 adult BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES passing together only a hundred yards from the restaurant deck. Several large feeding frenzies had formed southeast of the Lighthouse, but in the stiff and chilly NE wind these proved a little too far out to study properly. Even greater numbers of Laughing Gulls were feeding in dense clouds to the east of Shagwong Point and all told I settled on a very conservative estimate of 10-15,000 gulls, with 80-90% being Laughing Gulls! 8 SNOW BUNTINGS were on the buffs at Camp Hero and 15 PINE SISKIN were at Gin Beach. Lastly, I noted an EASTERN MEADOWLARK and 3 FIELD SPARROW along Promised Land Road.

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