Documenting the Birding Adventures of Scott Whittle
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Fort Drum Part 2
The next morning I got up early to try and improve some of my photos from the day before. I started off in a spot for Mourning Warlber, and had one calling in the same spot we had looked the day before. It took me some time to realize that the bird was not calling from the ground and lower canopy (which would be typical) but was actually about 30 feet up in a nearby try. It was very cool to see this bird out in the open and calling, and again was one of the reasons I wanted to go upstate...birds that are rarities in the NY City parks may breed elsewhere, and you have a much better chance to see and study the bird.
I drove the dirt roads to the marsh next, hoping to see the Least Bittern. It was calling as it had been the day before, but distantly. I weighed my options for a bit, and then decided what the hell, donned my shorts and rubber boots, and waded out into the marsh, leeches be damned. I moved towards the call as quietly as I could, holding my camera overhead, and with my recorder in my pocket, trying not to go too deep and thus ruin my gear. It took about a half hour to get close, and then I waited for another forty-five minutes. Finally, the bird moved and showed itself, edging out from the cat tails and giving me an amazing look (and photos!). I edged quietly back out of the marsh, amazed that my scheme had worked. I got my first leech of the season, and here's a photo of the little sucker.
After that it was back on the road and down to Brooklyn. I checked the emails on the way down, and saw Matt Young had reported Anahinga (!! - very rare, southern species, also know as the Snakebird for it's long neck and habit of swimming with only its neck and head visible) not two hours south. The drive went by faster than normal as I was peering intently all around as I passed through the area the bird was seen. No luck there, nor with the reported Mississippi Kite at Bashakill, where I stopped briefly and where several other birders were intently searching (including Curt McDermott, Tom Burke, and John Haas). These fly-through rarities are tough, but I figure you try for enough of them and eventually you'll get lucky.
Back in Brooklyn for a barbeque at around 9pm, and home, exhausted and happy, by 11. A great trip at a great time of year in Upstate.
My name is Scott Whittle and I'm a professional photographer (www.scottwhittle.com). I have an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I started birding as a teenager, and then dropped it for many years. I started to bird again in 2007, and have been birding since then in Brooklyn, NY and Cape May, NJ.