Pelagic birding is one of my absolute favorite forms of birding. There’s no thrill quite like an expedition at sea to seek out wildlife that spend most of their lives far beyond the realm of land-dwellers. I’ve been a diehard boat birder ever since I worked for Project Puffin back in 2014, and my fondness for seabirds has only grown over the intervening years. Starting in 2017, I had the good fortune to partake in multiple trips per year with the esteemed See Life Paulagics team. Regrettably, the onset of the pandemic had a dramatic impact on the pelagic scene, completely shutting down voyages for the entirety of 2020. By summer 2021, people were starting to feel a bit more comfortable about group trips aboard crowded vessels, but there were still some obstacles preventing a swift return to form.
Read More
At the end last year, I bid a fond farewell to the lovely neighborhood of Astoria, where I had lived since December 2019. I spent the first 6 months of 2022 living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but I knew when I first moved in that this would be a temporary arrangement. Jacqi and I started seriously looking for new apartments when spring rolled around, hoping to find a building that would provide comfortable and affordable amenities while also shortening my daily commute. To my great delight, it didn’t take us long to find exactly what we were looking for, and the new place was only a few blocks south of my old home.
Read More
Whether you’re a world traveler intent on seeing as many species as possible or a casual window watcher cataloging the visitors to your feeder, birding and listing go hand in hand. While my overall life list is undoubtedly my personal top priority, my New York State list comes in at a close second place. Traveling around the Empire State in search of rare vagrants and localized breeders has brought me a great deal of pride, joy, and occasional frustration over the years. While far from the largest territory, New York is expansive enough that seriously birding it requires a lot of dedication. The boundaries of the state encompass a wide range range of habitats, from the boreal forests of the Adirondacks to the productive seas off the coast of Long Island.
Read More
In the birding calendar year, the month of May is the big event that everyone looks forward to. After a solid showing in April and an uncharacteristically strong March, May 2022 had a tough act to follow. Even with the pressure of sky-high expectations, spring migration always manages to deliver a unique and wonderful experience year after year. This season was no different. I had the good fortune to spend much of my free time this month birding, and every time I was out in the field there was something exciting to be found.  Due to the concentrated intensity of northbound migration, May is one of the best months of the year for big days. Birds are in a rush to get back to the breeding grounds and secure their territories in the spring, so the action is limited to a narrower window than the prolonged passage of fall migrants.
Read More
The month of April often feels more like an appetizer than a main course in the world of birding. While we’re well past the late winter doldrums here in New York, the maximum excitement of the May peak has not yet arrived. Though migration activity increases steadily but slowly throughout the month, the anticipation of the coming high can make the gradual build-up feel like a bit of a tease. Mindblowing days with rich diversity and high counts of individuals are relatively rare during April in the Northeast. Even so, the slow boil escalation of northward movement can produce plenty of surprises, including early arrivals and wayward wanderers. The first act of Spring 2022 was no different, featuring a number of fantastic finds that set the stage for another brilliant migration season. In the last days of March, several nights of southwesterly winds provided ideal conditions to jumpstart spring migration.
Read More
The Adirondack Park is one of my favorite regions in all of New York. I’ve waxed poetic on numerous occasions in the past about how much I love exploring the forests and bogs of this magnificent mountain range. The birding in this part of the state is excellent year round, but each season offers unique highlights. It had been several years since my last winter visit to the Adirondacks, and I was eager for an excuse to get back up there. Particularly, I hoped I would finally have the opportunity to add a long-overdue species to my New York State bird list: White-winged Crossbill. During the later months of 2021, I started hearing reports that irrupting crossbills were invading the forests of upstate New York. The Winter Finch Forecast for 2021-2022 had predicted that these species would likely move into the Adirondacks in some numbers.
Read More
This January, I officially finalized my departure from Astoria and moved the last of my things into the Upper West Side apartment. Though this is a temporary arrangement, lasting only until the end of the lease in June, I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to experience Manhattan life for a few months. I’ve managed to pack plenty of chases and expeditions into the first quarter of the year, but the bulk of my birding during winter’s back half has taken place within the borders of New York County. Fortunately, there has been plenty of excitement on offer to keep me busy! The first noteworthy NYC bird of 2022 came just days after I returned home from Arizona. In mid-December, Manhattan had experienced a mini-invasion of Western Tanagers, with three distinct individuals appearing in different city parks over the course of a few days.
Read More
This is the story of the quest for one of my most wanted birds in the entire world. As a curious kid who was obsessed with wildlife from the moment I opened my eyes, I devoured countless books and documentaries about the planet’s amazing animals during my childhood. The Steller’s Sea-Eagle was one of those iconic species that stood out in my early memories due to its striking appearance and seemingly unattainable rarity. By weight, this species is the largest extant eagle, clocking in at up to 20 pounds. It’s also in the running for top honors by length and wingspan, measuring “a third as big again” as the mighty Golden Eagle, as Sir David Attenborough so eloquently put it in a memorable Blue Planet sequence.
Read More
When I shared my traditional annual wrap-up post in the final days of December 2021, I did so knowing that I wasn’t quite done with birding adventures for the year. For the first time since I started seriously year listing in 2016, I had New Year’s Day plans that didn’t include a visit to Jones Beach! This holiday season, I had the honor of joining Jacqi and a few of her old college buddies for several days of celebration in Arizona. I hadn’t visited the southwestern state since my solo trip in the summer of 2018, so I was grateful for the opportunity to revisit this corner of the country. This vacation was predominantly focused on festivities and friendship, but the itinerary nevertheless featured some wonderful opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.  After an overnight flight from NYC, Jacqi and I arrived in Phoenix early in the morning.
Read More
Birders have been captivated by sightings of (presumably all the same) Steller’s Sea-Eagle from Alaska in August 2020 to Texas, the Canadian Maritimes, and most recently Massachusetts.  Watch this summary of what we know, and then help find it again, to create the next chapter of this bird’s journey.  Personally, I am hoping it shows up with the large numbers of Bald Eagles at Conowingo Dam in Maryland, and then moves north in the spring, hitting the south shore of Lake Ontario and Derby Hill.
Read More