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Winter Surprises (1 Viewer)

... don't include finches for me yet. Just this mroning I struck out again. NW winds and all were there, but they were too strong, and only a few goldies were chippering about. The only noteworthy bird of the day was an American Pipit, calling atop a house there.

Last weekend I sacrificed a day of finching (crossbills and Cave Swallows were at my local patch that day) for twitching waaay out at the end of the world - Montauk, NY. You have to pay for the good stuff - the geese I was chasing were about three miles from the very tip of the island! However my second Barnacle and my first Pink-footed Goose were worth it. Also in the area were 2-3 Western Kingbirds and 1-2 Ash-throated Flycatchers that eluded me. In the New York city area there are at least 5 of these flycatchers, with one just reported as I type!

Here's an email to a NY listserv from Phil Jeffrey, on the origin of geese in general in the area, sparked by these two:

"* both Barnacle and Pink-footed are predominantly found on the east
coast in late fall through winter, in almost exactly the pattern you'd
expect if they were Greenland-originate d vagrants
* not all Barnacles are wild, e.g. there's one in Texas right now
(there was also a Bar-headed Goose)
* is there any particular reason why we should always see them at
this time of year ? molt allowing formerly pinned birds to escape ?
* is there any particular reason why we should predominantly see them
in this region as opposed to say the Midwest - is there a
concentration of waterfowl collections here, or are the ones on Long
Island especially badly managed ?
* despite the ID being relatively questionable at times, there's not
much doubt that Greenland ssp. Greater White-fronted Geese make it to
the east coast each year.
* verifiably wild (i.e. banded) Barnacles have been recorded on the east coast"

The last winter surprise was the announcement that Harlequin Ducks had finally returned to Point Lookout, on the other side of an inlet where the West End of Jones Beach, my local patch, is. They had been absent since I last saw them in early 2005.
 

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