Friday, January 18, 2008

Back South

The past two days I've been working my way down to Brooklyn.  In Oswego I picked up a Glaucous can see the size difference from the Iceland Gull and the stout, pink beak with black tip.  I tried Montezuma NWR again for Tundra Swan and Ross's Goose, but again the birds were too far out to get a good look at.    Once again relying on other great birders to help me out, I spoke to Matt Young, an experienced birder in the Finger Lakes area.  He gave me some good tips on where to look for Crossbills, the last winter finches I need for my list.  I spent one afternoon looking, before staying overnight in a local town.   No Crossbills, but I saw at least four Rough Legged Hawks, and two big groups of Turkey (80 plus birds each).   On my way back for dinner, I looked up and saw hundreds of crows streaming overhead.  They were roosting in the nearby trees...seeing all those black birds flying in the near dark seemed otherworldly, and I find it comforting to think that there is this big world outside going on all the time, whether I see it or not.  
The next morning I continued walking and slowly driving ba
ck roads in the area, but didn't have any luck, depite Matt's excellent help.  Crossbills are tricky because they have somewhat nomadic tendencies, and although you can go where they might be (they feed on pine cones), that doesn't mean you'll see them.  
My last stop of the trip was in New Paltz.  I had emailed Christine Guarino, who had reported Red Headed Woodpecker in the area.   Red-Heads were much more common as recently as five years ago, but have been in serious decline, and now they take some effort to see.  Just as I drove up to New Paltz, wondering exactly where to find the bird, Christine called me and offered to come out and point them out.   It's just another example of the amazing generosity that I've seen from birders all over the state.  
While I was waiting I got some shots of a kettle of Black Vulture that were soaring overhead...Christine says they are local residents.  She drove up and showed me where to scan for the woodpecker, and withing a couple of minutes I'd picked out a distant bird with a bright red head and white!  Christine confirmed it, although it flew off before I got a photos (ANOTHER bird I need to go back to get a good shot of).  We drove down the road and scanned some Canada Geese for anything unusual, and then I headed back down the Thruway to Brooklyn, my first Northern trip of the year a definite success.  

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