Sunday, February 12, 2017

Birding by snowshoes

My belated report this morning tells of yesterday's hilights.Beset by a weeklong cold attacking my throat with sore throat and cough, nevertheless I thought it was motivation to try birding by snowshoes.

My first objective was Prospect Lake.And from the "hammerhead peninsula,it was easy pickings finding 3 RINGNECKED DUCKS,all Drakes nestled on the outer cove of West Island.Its always a delight for me seeing this species as it epitomizes Prospect winters.The rest of the lake looked the usual until I traipsed with my trusty snowshoes towards Duck Island.

Duck Island lived up to its name! As I watched,out sailed from the island phragmites,in procession the Drake BUFFLEHEAD,3 HOODED MERGANSERS,and a Drake RED BREASTED MERGANSER. How nice to see that?

The second objective as I shuffled my snowshoes through the rink bridle trail for the feeders,it took me about 20 minutes.I had to take off the shoes to avoid damaging the metal teeth on the now plowed paths at concert Grove.(It's tough for skiers or snowshoers getting unbroken pace with all paths and roads plowed immediately 🤐)

Finally ,my arrival at the feeders after traipsing with shoes back on. Expectantly,the RUSTY BLACKBIRD appeared immediately. It's vastly outnumbered by 18 Redwinged Blackbirds,but they weren't territorial with the guest star.A handsome looking bird the RUSTY had speckles of brownish rust on its back on its mostly black plumage; and that yellow eye! Dale Dyer was watching and he mentions seeing AMERICAN TREE SPARROW. We both searched among the ground foragers of White throated spparows and House Sparrows until I finally found it; its quite unusual to see Tree Sparrow  in interior Brooklyn,a more reliable visitor on the coast. About 5 minutes after this sighting,I get a tweet notification on my phone: Kathy Toomey has the ICELAND GULL on the ice edge by the Wellhouse.

As fast I went from the feeders over slippery ice and crushed snow, it was initially in vain.When I got to the spot,the whole gull flock took off. [ I cussed under my breath]. But thanks to Kathy,she refound the Iceland Gull out on the lake,a whitish standout for a sizable gull among Ringbilleds and fewer Herrings. It helps having good eyes. But not content in seeing a distant bird I played a hunch,went off for more birding along east Lookout Hill.

Arriving back at Wellhouse drive 20 minutes later,I find  a young teenager throwing snowballs at the gull flock. [ I muttered my negative adjective].Of course I'm going to say something but that was moot as the insensitive kid walked away.Hope rises!

And my hunch paid off! Sitting on the ice edge in line with the Well Drive shipping containers was the great looking ICELAND GULL. It's well seen and I took my opportunity to view it as long as I can,the closest I've seen this bird despite many reports.Theres a saying " good  things come to those who wait".

Birding by snowshoeing,a great excercise and good winter fun,not to say great birds along the way.