How And Where To Watch Birds On The East End - 27 East

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How And Where To Watch Birds On The East End

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A pair of common loons. RON DAY

A pair of common loons. RON DAY

A house wren dismantling a rival sparrow's abode. TERRY SULLIVAN

A house wren dismantling a rival sparrow's abode. TERRY SULLIVAN

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A long-tailed duck drake. TERRY SULLIVAN

A long-tailed duck drake. TERRY SULLIVAN

A common loon. SOFO STAFF

A common loon. SOFO STAFF

A common loon. TERRY SULLIVAN

A common loon. TERRY SULLIVAN

Common loon with bunker. TERRY SULLIVAN

Common loon with bunker. TERRY SULLIVAN

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in the dunes. ELLEN STAHL

A snowy owl in the dunes. ELLEN STAHL

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

A snowy owl in residence in Southampton. STEPHEN T. LOBOSCO

authorStaff Writer on Jan 17, 2022

Our birders have a few suggestions about where to look for and how to observe the avian species that call the East End home, if only temporarily.

Looking for migrating winter waterfowl like eiders, mergansers, loons, buffleheads and scoters, Frank Quevedo of the South Fork Natural History Museum (SOF) recommends local ponds, lakes, embayments and the ocean.

“Basically, any water body, fresh or salt,” said Quevedo.

Among his favorite places are near Shinnecock Bay, either along Dune Road on the Hampton Bays side or Meadow Lane on the Southampton side.

At Big Fresh Pond in North Sea, it would not be unusual to spot scaup, ruddy ducks and canvas backs. And on the ocean side look for loons, surf scoters, black scoters and white-wing scoters, as well as eiders.

Further east in Napeague State Park, which has a mix of shore and upland environments, you might find crossbills in the pine trees and coopers hawks and harrier hawks feeding at the edges of the habitats. In the woodlands of Montauk’s Camp Hero look for peregrine falcons.

“At the Walking Dunes you never know what you’ll find,” Quevedo laughed.

And in SOFO’s own backyard, a several-acre field is home to a wide range of birds easy to see, including the northern harrier, short-eared owls and local grasslands birds like sparrows, woodpeckers and cardinals.

“It’s a nice place to explore,” he said.

Terry Sullivan likes it close to home.

“My favorite place for birding is the area around Sag Harbor,” said Sullivan; “not for any particular species as ‘The Habah’ has more species than any other area from Morton Refuge to Orient Point. Every day I check my favorite haunts like Havens Beach, Redwood and Otter Pond.”

Sullivan also has a tip for photographing birds in the wild.

“Always have a camera (not a phone) with a zoom lens in your vehicle. If you shoot from the vehicle, you won’t spook the birds. I call it ‘drive by shooting.’ The zoom lens is so you don’t have to get too close, again, to avoid spooking the birds.”

But, before you pick up a camera or a pair of binoculars or a Peterson Guide, Brent Bomkamp recommends young birders just go out and observe the birds, see how they interact with each other, with other species and their environment. When you want to identify them, then it’s time for a good pair of binoculars and one of the pocket-sized field guides written and illustrated by famed birder Roger Tory Peterson.

And for a more high-tech experience, Bomkamp recommends the Merlin app from Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, which turns your smartphone into a device that can identify a bird by its song, or from a photo you take of it.

Upcoming Bird Outings with the South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO) in Bridgehampton. Call 631-537-9735 to reserve for all programs or visit sofo.org for details.

Saturday, January 22, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Winter Ducks and Alcids, a Montauk field trip for adults. John Turner, noted author, environmentalist and member of SOFO’s board of directors, leads a trip to Montauk Point to look for loons, sea ducks, razorbills, murres and more. Afterwards, SOFO board member Carl Safina and Patricia Paladines welcome participants to their home for some warm refreshments and cookies. Co-sponsored by Four Harbors Audubon Society. Free.

Saturday, February 5, 10 a.m. — Birding with Frank: Winter Sea Ducks, a program for adults and teens (children over 10 may attend). Frank Quevedo, SOFO’s executive director, leads an outing to Montauk Point in search of scoters, loons, eiders and other arctic avians that come to inshore waters each winter. Participants will scan the ocean with scopes and try to identify birds as they dive for food and frolic in the surf. Bring binoculars and/or a scope and a field guide if you have them. $15 adults/$10 children. Members free.

Wednesday, February 16, 7 p.m. — Nighttime Owl Prowl with Joe Giunta, a program for adults. Joe Giunta, a birding instructor for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, leads an evening foray that starts with a slide show and taped calls of the East End’s native owls. Participants then head for the woods to call owls in for actual sightings of the eastern screech owl or maybe a great horned owl, whose courtship period begins at this time of year. Bring binoculars and a flashlight. $15 adults/$10 children. Members free.

Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. — Birding with Frank: Pond & Bay Waterfowl, a program for adults and teens (children over 10 may attend). Frank Quevedo, SOFO’s executive director, leads an outing to Southampton’s Dune Road to search for freshwater and saltwater birds that prefer the calmer waters of ponds and bays. Mergansers, grebes, canvasbacks and gadwalls will be on the list to see, as well as many other species. Bring binoculars and a field guide if you have one. $15 adults/$10 children. Members free.

Saturday, March 6, 10 a.m. — Migration Headache: The Dangers Birds Face in Migration, a program for children ages 6 to 8 led by Sandra Reyes, SOFO environmental educator. Many migrating water birds require more than one wetland habitat for nesting, resting and wintering. The loss of even one of these habitats makes the journey harder for them. If you were a migrating water bird do you think you would survive? Find out in this interactive migration survival game. $15 adults/$10 children.

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