After the Murre non-starter, I sulked for a bit, then went to Central Park on my lunch break and picked up a Pine Siskin for my life list. It was one of those birds that you get through sheer persistence – you know that if you get out in the field often enough you’ll be in the right place at the right time someday, and it was my day. And, because it was my second trip to the field for the year I put a bunch of other species on my year list as well, including the always-fun Sharp-shinned Hawk and Ruddy Duck.

But I was hungry for a real trip. And always, always, the next lifer.

Snowy Owl seemed like a good bet – they’ve been reported from practically every patch of decent grassland between here and Cape May. But I didn’t just need a patch of decent grassland, I needed one I could get to without a car. And with paparazzi hassling the Snowy Owl at the Meadowlands, people had become reluctant to be specific in their posts about the Big Whites. So I went off an old tip and decided to play the odds on Liberty State Park, a bit of Superfund site tucked in industrial Jersey City and turned into some lovely trails and meadows. Supposedly there was a Snowy seen there “near the golf course”. So off we went.

My fellow east-coasters will be aware that this meant braving some considerable cold. Still, bundled up, we walked the paths and headed for the waterfront, because we did not know where the golf course was.

Nothing interesting happened until we got just across from the statue of liberty. There I first spotted a flock of Horned Larks – which were all by their lonesome, despite my earnest scanning for a Snow Bunting or, better yet, a Longspur of some sort – and then a Grebe, which again despite giving me some tight moments, resolved to be a Horned. I sound dismissive here, but Horned Lark and Horned Grebe are both species that I’ve seen on trips with others but never found for myself until now. So life was pretty good, even though we walked around in the wind until we nearly lost our fingers and never did find the Snowy Owl, or indeed the golf course, which upon careful retrospective googling, appears to not exist. And only saw ten species of birds overall. Because it was too damn cold out to be out, as sane species of birds had no doubt concluded.

And next weekend I can try again.

Unlike some football teams I could mention.

The Central Park trip

The Liberty State Park trip

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