Chipping Sparrow in Fall Migration, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
For the last ten years or so, the real markers of the holiday season for me are the annual Christmas Bird Counts. I try to get to as many of these as I can. Yesterday was Kings County’s (which actually includes part of Queens County for reasons of convexity). This year I counted at Jacob Riis Park and Fort Tilden on a beautiful cloudy winter day. Conditions were ideal for sea watching, and we had a lot of great birds including all three scoter species (maybe more than a thousand Black Scoters), hundreds of Red-throated Loons, and eight Common Eiders.
However for me the highlight was three Common Waxwings that Joshua Malbin and I found in the woods at Fort Tilden. Shockingly, these were the only Cedar Waxwings anyone saw anywhere in the count circle yesterday, which makes them a save. They usually aren’t that hard to find, and we didn’t think much about them when we did see them. If we hadn’t bushwhacked the overgrown trail behind the West Battery, or been a few minutes earlier or later when we did, the entire count would have missed Cedar Waxwing this year.
As dusk was approaching we drove into the small city of Orotina. In the trees encircled in the town square, we found a lot of sloths, apparently released pets. But the real prize was a Black-and-white Owl our guide, Richard Garrigues, had staked out:
From La Ensenada, we drove back to San Jose; but with quite a few stops along the way. The lunch break in Tabaris added several beach species to the trip list, including Laughing Gull and Black-crowned Night-heron; but these are all long-distance migrants or widespread species of herons and gulls, so no lifers there. However I did have a life reptile, the Black Ctenosaur:
These things are huge! I had great trouble getting far enough away to get one in the frame with my 400mm lens.
After lunch we stopped along a dirt road near the Tarcoles River, where we found #944, Scarlet Macaw! The last is one of those spectacular birds you think of when you think of the tropics. We only saw them at a distance, but they were pretty nonetheless.
Gray-necked Wood-Rail was a nemesis bird in a Panama. I missed it repeatedly even though it was present on the grounds of the lodge where I was staying. Indeed I had used some of my free time to stake out its reeds and pond.
From Cinchona we took a back road that was a “shortcut”. It was neither short, nor cut, and we got lost; and didn’t find our way out till after dark. But before we got lost we came to a small wetland where we stopped to watch some Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. While we were there we spotted #879, a Gray-necked Wood Rail, and a female Green Kingfisher.
No pictures since we didn’t get out of the bus for this one.