Sunday, April 2, 2017

2016, A GREAT Year for Life Birds, Part 1

[I'm more than a bit behind in my posting! Here's where I finally catch up on all my bird posts that should've been made in 2016 but weren't.]

As of the first week of February 2016, I already added 7 new birds to my life list -- as many as I added in all of 2015.

The last Saturday in January, I finally saw a Common Merganser on the Central Park Reservoir. It was definitely bigger than the more usual Red-breasted Mergansers,

On the last Sunday in January, we enjoyed an Audubon Society Eco-cruise of New York Harbor. It was a picture-perfect day of bright sunshine, blue skies, calm water, near 50 degrees. The 2-hour cruise took us past the shores of Brooklyn, Governor's Island, Ellis Island, Liberty Island and Bayonne, and down to Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, two small man-made islands on the eastern shore of Staten Island. There are ducks out there, ducks and loons and gulls that don't come inland to the Central Park Reservoir and only occasionally visit the East River or Hudson River for easy viewing.

Clangula hyemalis. Accept no substitutes.

Lots and lots of gulls and cormorants all over the place.
Familiar Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Greater Black-backed Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants, Mallards, Black Ducks, Buffleheads and Red-breasted Mergansers were abundant along the shores. Spotting the unfamiliar Bonaparte's Gulls and Common Loons was the challenge!

There are seals too! Harbor seals like to sun themselves on the rocks and sandbars around Swinburne Island. They tend to hit the water when the boats come close, and stared at us from the waves.

So freaking cute.
So on one cruise I got Long-tailed Ducks, Common Goldeneye, Great Cormorant, Bonaparte's Gull, Red-throated Loon, and this Surf Scoter that was an unexpected bonus bird:

That is totally a Surf Scoter. Yay!
It hardly bothered me that my erstwhile spouse had already seen several of these birds elsewhere around New York City waters. I'm just not as eager to go chasing a critter that might have flown off by the time I got there. I figure I'll get them eventually...and often do.

In mid-February we went to Florida, with intentions of birding at Laxahatchie and Green Cay reserves near the Everglades. We visited a friend whose home is on the shore of a small lake and surrounded by a moat, and he likes to post photos of white ibis and wood storks gazing into his living room windows while the indoor cats lose their minds. Well, it was all true.

That's in the next post.