Friday, November 19, 2010
About 11:45 Wednesday morning I found out that a fork-tailed flycatcher was seen that morning at a small park in Stamford, CT. I checked the airline schedule and found I could catch a 2 PM flight to NYC. I was supposed to arrive at 3:25 which meant I could make the 40 mile drive up to Stamford just in time to see the bird before dark. The plane pulled away from the gate at 2 PM and immediately its engines were turned off because of high winds in NYC had caused a delay.
We finally took off at 3 PM, arriving in NYC about 4:20, but by the time I got my rental car, and made the drive with fortunately little traffic, it was totally dark at the park. So I grabbed a motel room hoping that on Thursday morning the bird would still be there.
I pulled into the parking lot at 6:30 AM to find about 10 other birders with scopes and cameras in the adjacent natural area waiting to spy the fork-tailed. It was sunny but quite chilly. About 7 AM one of the birders found it perched in a tree. We all moved closer, but it was still too far away for my camera. I asked one of the photographers to email me a pic, but he did not do it. (In 2011 I met Doug Koch who had seen the same fork-tailed flycatcher, and he sent me the photo above that I was able to add to this post).
Also on Wed. afternoon I received a report of a pink-footed goose near Boston, MA and a possible thick-billed vireo in Miami, FL. Having spent 30 minutes enjoying the flycatcher, I decided to make the 3 hour drive up to Boston in hopes of quickly finding the goose so that I could drive back to NYC yesterday afternoon to be able to fly to Miami. On my way up I received confirmation that a thick-billed vireo was in Miami.
About 10:30 AM as I was getting close to the pink-footed site I saw a bunch of cars, and people with scopes scanning a field full of geese. It was not where the pink-footed had been seen, but I pulled in to find it was the location of a barnacle goose that had been in the area for a few weeks. Another couple arrived at the same time. I had met the husband at the hawk tower at Bentsen Rio Grande SP back in March. They were on their way from upstate NY to FL but had detoured thru MA to see the 2 geese, and then planned to stop in to see the fork-tailed in CT. The 2nd photo shows the barnacle goose with some canada geese around it (center facing left--smaller, white face and dark throat, neck and upper chest with a gray/black back). This is a bird I saw way back in January in NJ (click on photo to enlarge).
I then went to the pink-footed site, but yesterday there were no geese there, just a large group of turkeys. Since the pink-footed goose has only been recorded twice before in MA, there were lots of local birders out checking the surrounding fields. Because the farmer who owned the field said that the geese came in every afternoon, I decided to "stake-out" the field as did several other birders. I was the last to depart at dusk without a single goose landing in the field--just a few flyovers.
After staying with good friends in Lincoln, I was back on goose patrol this morning at 6:30, checking several possible fields, plus a large reservoir. I found plenty of canada geese on the reservoir, but very few geese in the fields, and none again landed at the primary pink-footed goose site. I had made a reservation this morning to fly to Miami this evening, so at 11 I started driving back to NYC to drop off my rental car. Enroute I spoke with the Miami birder who had confirmed the vireo yesterday. He said this morning 10 birders searched for the vireo but did not relocate it. So instead I flew home to NC late this afternoon.
Today is the beginning of week #47. A total of 22 birds were seen. The fork-tailed flycatcher is a life bird and raises the YTD to 692. As I was driving home from the airport this evening I got a call from Bob Ake telling me that an adult ross' gull was found at a reservoir near Denver, CO. I have a plane reservation for 6:20 AM tomorrow to chase this latest rarity. Stay tuned!