Blue Grosbeak, Bobolinks, Harlequin Ducks at Montauk - 1 May 2010

Happily, the overnight influx of summer breeders and north-bound migrants extended out to Eastern Long Island. Hugh McGuinness and I spent the morning birding Montauk Point and adjacent Camp Hero SP (Suffolk Co.). We found a good collection of migrants including Blue-headed, Warbling and White-eyed Vireos, 6 sp. warbler (Black-throated Green, Yellow, Black-&-White, Common Yellowthroat, Ovenbird, Yellow-rumped), numerous Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Chimney Swift, Bank Swallow, Rough-winged Swallow and so on. Highlights were a young male BLUE GROSBEAK in Camp Hero and 2 flyover BOBOLINK at the Point. A kettle of 11 Turkey Vultures over the woods east of Oyster Pond represented a good count for out here and at least one other was noted in Napeague. A Solitary Sandpiper and Green Heron were on the ponds in Deep Hollow.

There appeared to be a steady trickle of diurnal migrants during the morning, predominantly Red-wing Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Blue Jays, Barn Swallows, American Robins and Fish Crows (unexpected?), with smaller numbers of Eastern Kingbirds and Baltimore Orioles. We noted several blackbird flocks heading out over the water towards Rhode Island. As if following these diurnal migrants, two Merlin also headed eastward over the point.

We didn't spend much time seawatching but 3 HARLEQUIN DUCK in Turtle Cove provided a nice treat for May. Common Loons (110+) were widely scattered on the flat calm water and 3 very distant Razorbills showed briefly among them. Small parties of Common Terns were observed out in Block Island Sound feeding over groups of loons. An ICELAND GULL was with other gulls on the Sound off Montauk Inlet.

The geography of the eastern Long Island is such that the diversity of northbound migrants falls precipitously as one travels east of the North/South Fork split. An example of this pronounced gradient effect is the fact we did not hear any thrushes in the woodland around Montauk, but just 15 miles further west in Amagansett Karen and Barbara Rubinstein found a good number of Wood Thrush in typical nesting habitat. Along the same lines, Hugh noted Great-crested Flycatchers at his house in Sag Habor first thing this morning but we found none elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if these species will have filtered east by tomorrow.

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