Little Gull & Merlin, Montauk Point - 30 May 2009
During the morning the wind shifted from the north to the west giving clear skies and warm temperaures. Activity off Montauk Point was mostly limited to several hundred Common and Roseate Terns with a couple of distant SOOTY SHEARWATERS and Northern Gannets. Whilst looking north of the point from the start of the Money Pond trail, I noticed a group of terns vigorously harassing a LITTLE GULL. The gull has a nearly complete black hood. It was interesting how the terns took such offense to this similar sized bird and would not let it settle on the sea. The gull was dive bombed repeatedly and flew north toward Shagwong Point. Another surprise was a late MERLIN which swished over the dune on the northside. Purple Martins, Bank Swallows, Chimney Swift and Eastern Kingbirds were feeding over the ocean, presumably on insects pushed by the wind. Two lingering Common Eider and a female White-winged Scoter were the only seaduck.
In woods at Camp Hero, I looked in vain for the Blue Grosbeaks that Vicki Bustamante has seen recently but there was a nice collection of breeding species including some very vocal Eastern Wood Pewees and an Eastern Phoebe. A surprise was a COMMON NIGHTHAWK flying low overhead - odd at 11 am but perhaps it had been disturbed from a roost site.
For the first time in a long while, Oyster Pond is open to the ocean (natural) and has an extensive shoreline. Unfortunately, a walk around the pond edge did not yield much. Seven Black-bellied Plovers were the only shorebirds. Ten Red-breasted Mergansers and a male White-winged Scoter (all in molt) were on the ocean near the outlet. With the warm airflow, I kept a sharp eye out for soaring hawks, hoping for a kite but instead only found Red-tailed Hawks (4 ads., 2 imm.), several Osprey and 6 Turkey Vulture. Visits to Third House and Rita's did not turn up anything special, nor did an evening seawatch off Amagansett.
Posted by Angus Wilson