Playing Catch Up, 5/30/16

~Love this bird. Black-billed Cuckoo at Wickham Lake, 5/23/16.~

It’s Monday, but with the holiday weekend it feels like a Sunday to me, so I’m finally getting around to posting. I went out several times during the week, but without many noteworthy sitings or photos. The above Black-billed Cuckoo was an exception; it was taken last Monday at Wickham Lake.

On Friday Tricia and I went up north to Watertown, New York, where I made a site visit at a church to examine their stained glass. We took the opportunity to visit Tricia’s parents near Syracuse, which meant that on Saturday morning I got to go to one of my favorite birding spots: Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. I got a little bit of a late start and arrived at the refuge just after 9:30. I have never birded the refuge at this time of year, and I have to say with the hot temperatures and the amount of car birding one has to do at the refuge, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I usually do. I had 54 species for the day, but most of my looks seemed to be on the distant side. The best spot for birds was Knox-Marcellus Marsh, which I viewed from East Road, but the distance and the heat shimmer made identifying birds a real challenge. I saw reports later in the day from  Towpath Road, which runs along the south end of the marsh. I haven’t birded there in years, and it seems like folks may have gotten better looks from there. Best birds of the day: Sandhill Cranes, Trumpeter Swans (with cygnets!), Common Gallinules (many!), several pairs of Blue-winged Teal, and a Caspian Tern.

~On my way back to Tricia’s mom’s place from Montezuma, I stopped at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area and took a short walk. Red-eyed Vireo, 7/28/16. 
~I got a nice look at a pair of Northern Shovelers from Wildlife Drive at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, 5/28/16.~ 
~I learned something when I did my eBird report – This is likely a Bronzed Common Grackle. From eBird: Common Grackles… “breed largely east of the Rockies, and winter throughout the eastern half of the Lower 48. It is the only truly migratory grackle, abandoning the northern portions of its range from Nov-Feb, and augmenting resident breeders across the Southeast. It occurs only as a vagrant in the Pacific states, where it is often confused with the Brewer’s Blackbird. There are two types of Common Grackles that can generally be told apart by plumage. The ‘Bronzed Grackle’ (available in eBird as ‘Common Grackle (Bronzed)’) breeds throughout the northern and western portions of the species’ range, mainly west of the Appalachians. It is migratory, overlapping with the other forms during winter. Best told by its bronzy body plumage, it is generally distinctive, and was once considered a separate species.”~
~Great-crested Flycatcher at Montezuma NWR, 5/28/16.~
~Beautiful bird. Blue-winged Teal at Montezuma NWR, 5/28/16.~ 
~Always a favorite of mine, one of several Pied-billed Grebes seen at Montezuma NWR, 7/28/16.~ 

This morning I got up early and, of course, it was raining steadily. I went to Sterling Forest State Park and walked the Sterling Valley Loop. The rain subsided after about an hour or so, which made for a better walk. It was a birdy hike, but most birds were heard and not seen, except in one area where the Sterling Valley Loop overlaps with the Sterling Lake Loop. I had my best looks at birds for the day there; it opens up a little bit with Sterling Lake on the right and a swampy area and a power-cut to the left. There was a breeze off of the lake and I finally got a break from the endless pestering of mosquitos. Then, I enjoyed great looks at a pair of Cerulean Warblers (but no pics!), several Cedar Waxwings, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (pics but distant), a very hungry Great Blue Heron (see below), Yellow Warblers, Baltimore Orioles, Wood Ducks, Chipping Sparrows, and even a fleeting look at an American Woodcock that I inadvertently flushed.

I had three target birds for the day, all birds that I needed for Orange County. They had all been reported in the area recently, and I got lucky with two of them: Acadian Flycatcher and Alder Flycatcher. Right where the Sterling Valley Loop and the Sterling Lake Loop go their separate ways, I first heard (“peeet-sah!”), and then saw the bird. About a half hour further down the trail I heard a call that I wasn’t sure of. I thought it was a flycatcher, but wasn’t sure. I was able to locate the bird and get photos and I later identified it as an Alder Flycatcher doing its “peep” or “pip” call, which I recored on my phone. The third was a Common Gallinule, which I had no luck with. Other than the relentless mosquitoes, it was a good hike and some decent birding.

~Cedar Waxwing, with nesting materials, at Sterling Forest SP, 5/30/16.~
~Great Blue Heron with a catfish. I did not stick around to see how this worked out…. Sterling Valley Loop, 5/30/16.~ 
~Alder Flycatcher at Sterling Forest SP, 7/30/16.

7 thoughts on “Playing Catch Up, 5/30/16”

  1. Nice report Matt! Love the Northern Shoveler photo. Always a treat when I get to see them!


    1. Thanks Scotty! Good to see the shovelers and the Blue-winged Teals too. I wish we had more breeding ducks in our area. Matt

  2. Hi Matt, finally getting around to viewing your blog. The Great Blue Heron and the Catfish got my attention! Great site. Great shots!

    1. Great to have you aboard Elaine. That catfish was absolutely massive, not sure what that heron did with it. Matt

  3. The Great Blue with the catfish is an amazing picture. Very funny! Always love your pied-bills too.

    1. Tricia and I were cracking up over it! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. Pied-billed Grebes are awesome. Matt

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