Tricia and I went to Long Island on Saturday afternoon to attend my sister’s annual Christmas Caroling Party. We left a little early to beat the worst of the snow that was coming, so we joined up with Tricia’s brother-in-law Bill to do some birding on the south shore. Bill has a nice “birding by car” loop that he does, which includes Robert Moses Park, Captree Island, Gilgo Beach, Oak Beach, Cedar Beach, Cedar Beach Marina, and various other stops. We did the loop while the snow got heavier and the winds started to pick up. I think due to the high winds, it was not overly birdy; our best birds where several Northern Harriers and a Merlin fly-by. We went to Cedar Beach Marina to look for the Gyrfalcon that had been reported there, but had no luck.
The party was a blast on Saturday night, but we were still up relatively early, ready to try Bill’s loop again in some better weather. Tricia’s sister Carolyn and her niece Cameron also joined us. The highlight of the day was, without a doubt, finding a SNOWY OWL on Captree Island. It was really exciting because this was a life bird for Bill, Carolyn, and Cameron. Although the bird was very distant (see photo!), we got some decent looks in binoculars and in the scope as the bird changed perches from time to time.
Other highlights of the day included: 2 Peregrine Falcons, Several Northern Harriers, a flock of Brant, many Buffleheads, a handful of Northern Shovelers, several Common Loons, 3 Red-throated Loons, and my personal favorite birds of the day – 4 Long-tailed Ducks. We struck out on the Gyrfalcon once again, but really it was a great day of birding. Huge thanks to Bill and Carolyn for taking us around and showing us all the spots; it’s so good to have the local knowledge and good company too.