If you get the chance to go to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, by all means go. I have never been disappointed at this refuge. This past Saturday morning, Bill Martocci and I left Baldwinsville (where Tricia’s mom lives), and arrived at Montezuma just before noon. The timing could not have been more perfect for me because most of the waterfowl had recently moved out of Orange County, and to be honest, I just hadn’t gotten enough of them. At Montezuma, there was still a super showing of waterfowl, and if you include all swimming water birds, we totaled 17 species, including nearly a dozen CANVASBACK, which was a life bird for me:
CANVASBACK (life bird)
It also seems to be the year of the Caspian Tern – we had 25 at the refuge, 22 of which were located perched just outside the visitor center. For the weekend, I would guess that I had close to 35 Caspian Terns in the area!
The highlight of the day for me, however, was locating an AMERICAN BITTERN. At the visitor center, we talked to a local birder who made us aware that he had had a bittern earlier that day. That helped, because I was certainly on the lookout. We had stopped to look at a large flock of Tree Swallows when I located the bird of the day. I really struggled taking photos; I think the camera has a difficult time focusing on this bird because of how well it is camouflaged. While looking at and shooting this bird, each time I looked down I would lose track of where the bird was.
Highlights for Bill included seeing a handful of Bald Eagles, a Belted Kingfisher, and a very brief glimpse of a female American Kestrel. We missed out on at least a couple of birds I was hoping for, including Sandhill Crane, Trumpeter Swan (both of which were reported at the refuge that day!), and Tundra Swan which have likely moved through at this point. It was a great day of birding where we totaled over 40 species.