New York State Rarities - Western
Grebe off Staten Island, New York 6-7 April 2002
On Monday 1 April 2002, Chris and Lauren Nuzzi
discovered a Western Grebe on the ocean off Wolfe's Pond Park in Staten
Island, Richmond County, New York. This species is less than annual in
the state and I believe, the first in southern NY in 10 years. The grebe
remains for at least a week and was enjoyed by many New York and New Jersey
birders. All observers should send descriptions and their thoughts
on the identification to NYSARC.
Here are some photographs of the bird as it fished
and swam around in the company of some Horned Grebes, Bufflehead and Greater
Scaup. On both days I visited, the bird kept to the same general area,
some 200-250 yards off the beach. For this reason, the images are very
small and poorly lit!
The grebe was much larger than the accompanying
Horned Grebes and Bufflehead, with a long dagger-like bill and sharp contrast
between white underparts and dark hindneck and cap. The mantle was grey
and contrasted with the blacker tone to the neck. The dark cap appeared
to extend over the eye. [Although not shown here, the head displayed the
typical twin bulges are the rear when facing away.]
The above image taken in better light, shows the
surprisingly bright yellow bill which may have fueled initial speculation
that this might be a Clarke's Grebe or hybrid. The extent of the dark cap
argues against the former, but the latter remains worthy of consideration.
During my observations the grebe was very active,
constantly swimming around and diving for short periods. Once I saw it
surface holding a small shell in its bill, which it eventually tossed aside.
Often it would surface beneath one of the Horned Grebe, causing some alarm
and once or twice forcing the smaller grebe to take flight!
Ausubel has posted some more digiscoped photos of this bird.
Congratulations to Chris and Lauren Nuzzi
for another excellent find from Wolfe's Pond Park. This site hosted one
of last summers Great White Herons, another
Photographs and page layout copyright of
Wilson© 2002 All rights reserved.
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York State Rarities.
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