Ditch Plains: Northern Fulmar, King Eider and much more

I figured the strong onshore winds (S to SSE, 25-30 kts) and wet conditions might bring some seabirds inshore and indeed there were masses of gulls, gannets and seaduck all along the ocean side of the South Fork. By far the largest concentration occurred to the east of Ditch Plains, off Caswells Point. Access is limited along this stretch and so I walked about 1/2 mile east of the trailer park and then scoped from a ladder running up the steep bluff. The main throng was a little distant to study properly but I estimated somewhere between 5,000-7,000 Laughing Gulls, 800 or more Northern Gannets, and good numbers of other gulls. The highlight was a NORTHERN FULMAR that flew along the beach towards the action at or less than 100 yards out. I got scope filling views of this somewhat ratty pale-morph individual. A female KING EIDER was in the surf with a group of Common Eider and was acting suspiciously like the female that spend the last two winters along this stretch.

*** Ditch Plains/Caswells Point, Montauk ***

NORTHERN FULMAR - 1 (pale morph, headed east just beyond surf line)
CORY'S SHEARWATER - 2+ (could well have been more but hard to make out in the distant feeding frenzy and rough seas)
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE - 3 (all 1st basics)
ROYAL TERN - 3 (2 ad. 1 juv)
PARASITIC JAEGER - 3 (all juvs)
jaeger sp. - 1
Common Eider - 250+
KING EIDER - 1 (fem., first of the season)
PEREGRINE -1 (was perched on bluff then headed out into the mass of seabirds)

*** Montauk Point ***

CORY'S SHEARWATER - 2 (working back and forth over the reef just east of the lighthouse)
SNOW BUNTING - 2 (on the beach, first of the season)
Common Eider - 600++
Black Scoter - 2,500
Surf Scoter - 200
White-winged Scoter - 150

I encountered Common Eider at almost every ocean vantage point between Amagansett and Montauk Point and would guess that the recent bad weather has moved them around a bit. Laughing Gulls were also everywhere with 500-600 bathing or roosting on Fort Pond in Montauk and a continuous stream of birds going back and forth from the ocean. Despite two visits I couldn't pull out anything more interesting among them. One thing I have never seen before is skiens of scoter, mainly Blacks, flying low over the town of Montauk headed towards the ocean. Flocks were also rounding the Point and crossing Gardiners Bay in a similar direction as viewed from Culloden Point. I wasn't sure what to make of this but now looking at the reports of scoter from inland sites, I wonder if these weren't newly arriving migrants rather than birds that have been here a few days?

Elsewhere, 2 SEMINPALMATED PLOVER continue in Deep Hollow on the southern most pasture, and an adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was on the beach at Fort Pond Bay. The restaurant at Montauk Point seems to have closed for the season. I looked for the Lark Sparrow (seen as recently as Wednesday by Vicki Bustamante) but the area was being used for a BBQ (poor choice of day!) and no sparrows were in evidence. Lastly, a SORA was calling from the small freshwater pond below the restaurant.

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