[CT Birds] Extralimital: Gyrfalcon on Long Island

Ryan Maclean ryanmac335 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 11:13:39 EST 2015

For those of you who missed the Gyrfalcon in Wallkill NY earlier this year,
you may have a second chance. As of this morning it was still being seen.

Via NYSbirds:
*Subject: Gyrfalcon at Cedar Beach Marina (Suffolk County)*
Date: Wed Dec 9 2015 15:33 pm
From: feustel AT optonline.net

Yesterday Sue and I observed a large gray falcon briefly sitting on an
Osprey platform in the salt marsh north of the Cedar Beach Marina
(CBM). Before we could even get out of the car to look at the bird it
dropped off the platform and flew low over marsh before abruptly
pouncing on something hidden in the marsh grass. We stayed an
additional hour in anticipation of the bird showing itself - which it
never did. The light gray back, large bulky body, broad, pointed wings
and manner of flight all suggested a Gyrfalcon, but the observation
was too brief to be sure. We entered the sighting in E-bird as ”large
falcon sp.”.

Today a brief stop at CBM in the morning yielded only a Peregrine
Falcon on the Osprey Platform. However, we had alerted another birder
of the possibility that a Gyr was present, and in the early afternoon
we received a phone call that the Gyrfalcon was being observed north
of the marina, perched in a lone Cedar tree out on the marsh. Upon
arriving, the bird was sitting in the Cedar, interestingly the same
tree used by the last Gyfalcon seen in this location a few years ago.
The bird, seen from a distance with a spotting scope, was
heavy-bodied, resembling a Red-tailed Hawk. The light gray back with
light feather edgings was observed, as well as the weak, narrow
mustache stripe. During our observation of well over an hour, we
observed the bird tussle with a Peregrine Falcon, chase a Black Duck
(he missed) and grab two unidentified prey items, always flying back
to the lone Cedar tree after presumably devouring its prey. The bird
was too far away for my meager telephoto, but usable photos were
obtained and will be posted to e-bird in the near future by another
birder. Our observation of the birds behavior gave us no reason to
believe this bird was an escapee from a falconer.

A word about access. Cedar Beach Marina is usually open during the
week when maintenance people need to get in. The facility is open on
the weekend if there is some special event being held there, which
does not happen frequently at this time of year. If the facility is
closed my recommendation is to park at Cedar Overlook on the south
side of the Ocean Parkway, (opens anywhere from 9 to 10AM on weekends)
walk west past the 9/11 Memorial on your left then out the entrance of
Cedar Beach to the parkway. Cross the parkway carefully and walk in
the main entrance to the marina. You could also park outside the
entrance to the marina and take your chances with the gendarmes.

Good Birding,

Ken & Sue Feustel

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