Two weeks after finding a Say’s Phoebe at Edgemere Landfill in the company of my family I convinced them to return to Edgemere yesterday afternoon for another visit. Northwest winds had been blowing all day and the flight of both passerines and raptors had been impressive. We had a grand old time dodging grasshoppers, checking out the snails, and watching the hawks. But that northwest wind got kind of brutal after awhile so we decided to head off the top of the capped landfill and find a more sheltered area to enjoy the day. As I drove slowly down the gravel road a distant raptor caught my eye. It was interesting enough that I stopped, opened the car door, and got my glass on it. I initially thought Black Vulture but quickly dismissed that thought.
Then I grabbed my camera, rattled off several pictures, and returned to family time. After all, having spent all morning birding the coast I couldn’t really make Desi and Daisy sit in the car while I puzzled over a distant bird. But I had a pretty good idea as to what I thought it was and I just hoped that the pictures I got would be good enough to confirm the identification.
The photos were taken at great range while the bird battled into the northwest winds. All I have done to them is crop them, though they are mighty cropped. What do you think this bird is?
I posted these pictures on Facebook last night and folks seemed to agree with my thinking. Even the eBird reviewer for Queens County, the illustrious Doug Gochfeld, agreed. I don’t want to give away what exactly I believe this bird is because I don’t want to prejudice your thoughts, but I’d love to hear what you think these images reveal. See you in the comments!