I think that subject line is more interesting than the usual. Well, the
flyway is not really new. I'm sure birds have been there before. And I can't
say the discovery is out of the blue. About 20 years ago, one day (an April
19, as I recall), I detected a small hawk flight (about 70 birds of various
species) along Little Neck Bay in northeastern Queens. I decided that this
year I would finally put some time into seeing if there's something viable
here. The spot I chose is a mile or so south of where I observed that time -
by Alley Pond Environmental Center, but on the north side of Northern Blvd.
Wide open skies for viewing here. And for today, at least, the results were
intriguing and not bad.
I started at 11:00. Now I wish I had started earlier. But going in, it
seemed a preposterous idea to plan a day around spring hawk watching in
Queens. And with a forecast for winds to lighten in mid-day, it didn't
profile as an ideal hawk migration day. Well anyway, 15 minutes into it, a
group of 23 Turkey Vultures came streaming by high. This already was more
TV's than I'd ever seen in one day on Long Island. A few minutes later, it
was a group of 31. This went on for about another hour, with a final tally
of 186 Turkey Vultures (don't laugh Braddock Bay and Derby Hill - that's big
stuff here). The surprising thing is that most were heading east, except for
one group of 13 that were seen going north on the west side of Little Neck
Bay). Looking at a map leads one to think that a north or northeast heading
would allow for a short water crossing before Long Island Sound widens, and
could actually provide somewhat of a concentration point toward the
mainland. This may prove true yet, particularly for other species. The
single Harrier today and a couple of Ospreys went that way. I'm not sure
where the two Kestrels went or if the Cooper's Hawk was not a local. An
adult Bald Eagle flew the wrong way over Little Neck Bay, so probably a
local (still sounds strange to say that in Queens).
The spot I chose is in a meadow and by Alley Creek and Little Neck Bay. So
this provided some other birds to be enjoyed while waiting for hawks.
Notable for here or late March were copulating Killdeer, Great Egret, Barn
Swallow, Palm Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark, and a number of Boat-tailed
Grackles. The most interesting bird was one that flew low past me, giving a
call I didn't recognize. When I got on it flying away, I saw large wing
patches and red emanating from the head. I suppose that could be a Eurasian
So not a bad start. Looking forward to tomorrow. A better wind in the
forecast, and hopefully we don't get socked in with clouds too long.
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