On yesterday's (15 Dec 2019) Captree Christmas Bird Count, observers at Robert Moses SP enjoyed a spectacular flight of Razorbills, within which we also recorded a Thick-billed Murre and an extremely-rare-from-shore Common Murre.
The east to west flow of flocks of Razorbills was immediately obvious when we began at 7:00, and even a few minutes of additional viewing prior to that time would have produced hundreds of additional birds. The rate of passage diminished abruptly around 7:30, and only a few dozen were noted after 8:00. The total count of Razorbills was 637, a number exceeded at this site only once before, on last year's CBC. Last December, however, there had been prior reports of exceptional numbers of Razorbills on the move to the north and east of us. In contrast, the scale of yesterday's flight came as a surprise to us, especially given the 20 mph wind out of the west, a bearing that is generally unfavorable for local seawatches. The rarity of the two murre species in this context deserves emphasis. Thick-billed Murre is a rare and irregular winter visitor to Long Island, occurring almost exclusively at particular sites with rocky substrates, especially the Montauk peninsula and Shinnecock Inlet. Common Murre is regular on Long Island's offshore waters, often in scores or even hundreds in recent years, but is still exceptionally rare from land. In forty years of birding the Rhode Island/Long Island coast I had seen this species from land only once before, at Shinnecock Inlet last winter. During last year's mega flight of Razorbills, and also during the one a few years before that, I remember repeatedly cautioning fellow observers that heavy movements of one species do not necessarily imply an increased likelihood of seeing other related but rare species. Then it happened to me. To add both of these species to my most intensively birded patch on the same morning was a stunning highlight and an example of how rewarding CBC-style effort can be. Shai Mitra Bay Shore -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --