Monday, January 14, 2008

The Upstate Bohemian Life

Got up early and went out in search of Bohemian Waxwing.  Will and Besty had showed me a spot the evening before where they'd seen them, so I went back to the spot in the morning.  After a little searching I found a flock of about 300 Cedar Waxwings in an apple orchard, feeding off of crab apple trees.  I wasn't sure of the protocol, but no one seemed to be home so I walked back in the orchard and scoped the flock.  There were about 1/2 dozen Bohemians mixed in, and  got a bunch of photos (it was snowing, so they're not great photos, but they're photos).  Bohemians are beautiful birds, and we don't see them so easily in New York every year.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this is an irruptive year for winter finches, so we're seeing birds that might normally spend their winter in Canada.  The Bohemian is a beautiful bird...really knocks your eye out with it's bright markings...and I was glad to get it checked off, since these birds are also fairly nomadic, which means you never know where they're going to turn up.  
Next I checked Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (near Rochester), where a Ross' Goose was reported the day before.  This is a variation of a Snow Goose, a beautiful white bird that can flock in the thousands.  In fact, that's exactly what they were doing at Montezuma -- there were several thousand Snow Geese on the lake, and from the observation tow
er it was
 magnificent to see.  Unfortunately, they were on the wrong side of the lake, which meant they were a little too far to pick out a Ross's, and even if I could I couldn't g
et a definitive photo.  (You distinguish between these species by  the Ross' is smaller size and it's beak / head shape, so a close look is important).   Here's a photo of a Snow Goose -- Snow Geese are usually white, but this is a dark morph variation. 
 Different types of birding create different challenges...yesterday it was trying to make out the fine details on a fast flying bird from a distance.  Here it was looking at a group of 10,000 birds and picking out the one that was different, kind of like a giant game of Where's Waldo.  Another birder did pick out a Greater White Fronted Goose out of the thousands of Canada Geese, which made the second GWFG I'd seen in the past two weeks.   
I wound up the day in Phoenix, which is on the SE edge of lake Ontario.  There's a great spot there with lots of g
ulls, and I was hoping for a Glaucous gull, which we hadn't seen in Niagara.  There were a number of Iceland Gulls, but no Glaucous that I saw.  That means a probable trip to Monticello,  where there's a good dump that the gulls congregate at.  Or I might find one on Jones Beach, since they're about to start dredging the channel there and that churns up lots of food for the gulls and attracts all kinds of birds.  Or maybe I'll get one on my next trip to Niagara...

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