Black Vulture, migrants and a brush with Hurricane Earl - 3 Sep 2010

Obviously all eyes are on 'Earl' (currently a Category 1 hurricane) as he rumbles past the South Fork. Fingers crossed that the damage from the anticipated heavy rain, winds and tidal surge will be minimal. Major weather events can result in very exciting birding especially when they coincide with peak migration. This evening or first thing tomorrow, I recommend checking grassy areas that could hold grounded shorebirds, gulls, terns etc. Many long-distance migrants (Hudsonian Godwits, American Golden-Plovers, jaegers, Arctic Terns etc) pass high overhead on their way down from the arctic to the ocean and these massive storms have the ability to bring them to ground. Likewise, pelagic birds might get pushed inshore by the winds, finding shelter in bays or on the larger ponds. Migrant rails, bitterns, and sharp-tailed sparrows might be pushed out of marshes by high water. Always use common sense when birding under inclement conditions and heed warnings about flooded roads, high surf and so on. Please let us know if you find anything good!

According to John Shemilt, the birding on the remaining sandflat at Mecox Inlet has been lackluster of recent, due in part to the continuing presence of a PEREGRINE. On Sunday a gorgeous juvenile BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER dropped onto the flat at about 8 AM, settled for a few minutes allowing John to snag some great photographs before it took flight and headed west with other shorebirds. Eight BLUE-WINGED TEAL dropped in on Wednesday (1 Sep) but like the Buffy, departed after only a few minutes. A phone message from Hugh McGuinness mentioned that he had an AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER at Mecox last weekend.

Based on the reports from surrounding areas, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES seem to be staging a sizeable incursion after a rather modest flight last fall. Vicki Bustamante heard two 'tooting their horns' in her yard in Montauk last Friday (27 Aug) and Joe Giunta noted one in Camp Heron the next day (28 Aug). Is this a harbinger of other conifer nesters such as crossbills? Karen Rubinstein, Barb Rubinstein and Vicki heard RB Nuts on 28 Aug at Montauk Point and found another on the trail along the eastern border of Deep Hollow together with some obvious southbound migrants such as WHITE-EYED VIREO, NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH and WILSON'S WARBLER. Yesterday afternoon (2 Sep) Vicki also noted a lone BLACK VULTURE circling over the ridge above East Lake Drive, Montauk. This has been an absolutely remarkable year for this once rare straggler. Vicki also reports that this past week or so, at least two COMMON NIGHTHAWKS have been coursing over Teddy Roosevelt County Park in Montauk. Whilst fishing off the Point last Saturday, Anthony Collerton noted 3 BLACK TERNS in a large flock of Laughing Gulls and terns over blitzing striped bass. Anthony has also noted lots of passerines moving through his yard in Northwest Woods, including YELLOW-THROATED VIREO and CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER.

The commercial sod fields near Manorville have attracted various shorebirds including several Buff-breasted Sandpipers. The best field is to the west of Eastport Manor Road and Head of the Neck Road. Carl Starace and Gary Strauss found 2-3 there yesterday and Eileen Schwinn reports they are still there this morning. More 'grasspipers' have been seen on the sod field north of Riverhead.

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