3 Jan 2009 - Razorbills, Cackling Goose etc

There was a nice mix of waterfowl today in East Hampton and Montauk (Suffolk Co.). Some 500 or more LONG-TAILED DUCK were displaying in Gardiner's Bay off Clearwater Beach in Springs. At Hook Pond in East Hampton Village, the immature male EURASIAN WIGEON continues and this morning was with 11 AMERICAN WIGEON, 5 NORTHERN PINTAIL, 6 COMMON MERGANSER and 3 GREAT CORMORANT - all gathered around a narrow openning in the ice. A MERLIN was hunting over the golf course during my visit. A CACKLING GOOSE was with Canada Geese on the field off Further Lane.

At Lazy Point in Napeague, 'Larry' the adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL continues at its regular spot, the narrow channel between the mainland and Hick's Island. For about 15 minutes, I watched a female NORTHERN HARRIER hovering low over the shallow water at the other end of Hick's. It repeatedly dropped with outstretched legs down onto the water, once or twice almost landing completely. I'm not aware that harriers ever fish (although Old-World Western and Eastern Marsh Harriers might) and the answer to this curious behavior finally came when the harrier lifted clear of the water clutching a dead female bufflehead, which it carried to solid ground.

At Montauk Point, the wind was fairly strong from the NNW and NW but sufficient shelter could be had in the lee of the restaurant. A one hour seawatch produced a fly-by RED-NECKED GREBE, 28 RAZORBILL and a female KING EIDER. As previous posts have indicated, the scoter numbers remain high. I estimated 3,500 SURF SCOTER, 1,500 WHITE-WINGED SCOTER, 150 BLACK SCOTER and 700 COMMON EIDER from this vantage point. Scanning from the bluffs at Camp Hero revealed a considerable number more to the SE of the Lighthouse, but by then I was too chilled to count them properly. Elsewhere, a dark ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was vigorously mobbed by crows just east of Montauk Village, two GREAT CORMORANT flew over Hither Hills State Park and at sundown another Merlin briefly buzzed a SNOWY OWL perched on a sand dune.

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