Sunday, June 10, 2007

NY State Birding Adventure - Day 1

On Friday, Mike from 10,000 Birds and I traveled to the Albany, NY area to meet up with Corey from Lovely Dark and Deep and Will from The Nightjar. Our mission was simple: see a Bicknell's Thrush on one of the Adirondack mountains where it breeds. But that was for Saturday... we still had some birding to do in Friday's stifling heat.

I picked up Mike in "da Bronx" and we hopped on the NY thruway for our 150 mile drive up to Albany. The AC was cranked and we cruised up the highway with visions of boreal breeders dancing through our heads. Corey and Will were waiting for us when we arrived around 4:15. Enough with the pleasantries... we had some birding to do! Our targets for Friday were grassland species and marsh birds. Will and Corey are completely wired in to the local birding and they knew some great spots. We headed west (I think) to the farmlands of Schoharie and Montgomery counties.

We stopped at our first field and ticked off Savannah Sparrow and a distant singing Vesper Sparrow, both of which are tough breeders to find in NJ. Our next stop was the one I was most looking forward to. It was a field of tall grass with some small shrubs that hosted a small sparrow which uttered a small "Tslisk" that it calls a song - a Henslow's Sparrow. This bird has elluded me on several occasions, but this guy was very abiding. After a few moments of searching, he perched on a shrub and gave some excellent scope views - ABA bird #498!

We piled in the car and continued our search for grassland species. Bobolinks called from every open field. Another field held a pair of circling Upland Sandpipers - a lifer for Mike. They didn't stop and pose for us, but they did make their "wolf whistle" call which is always neat to hear. Continuing on to other fields, we found more Savannah Sparrows, Harrier, Kestrel, and Eastern Meadowlark. We were racking up the grassland specialties, but the regularly-occurring Grasshopper Sparrow was peculiarly missing. We finally did find one calling, but the views for Corey and Mike were less than spectacular.

The grasslands had produced well for us and we headed to our next habitat - Black Creek Marsh. Our target: Virginia Rail (a lifer for Mike) and other marsh birds. Most of the great marshes close to me are closed at night to the public. This marsh was very accessible. A path along railroad tracks leads to some awesome marsh habitat where we did hear, but not see, Virginia Rail. We also heard Marsh Wren and Swamp Sparrow and had a Willow Flycatcher circle our heads in the waning daylight. We returned to the car in the dark and finalized our plans for the next day. It must have been our inhalation of too much marsh gas, but we decided to return to Corey's house (after dropping off Will at his house), eat dinner (at 10:00 PM), sleep for a few hours, and then leave for Wakely Mountain at 2:00 AM. That's exactly what we did... we drank a beer, ate some great prosciutto and mozz sandwiches, and got a little sleep. Tune in tomorrow for our phenomenal adventure up the mountain.

Be sure to check out Corey's poetic rendition of Friday's birding, as well as Mike's and Will's versions of the day. It's interesting reading to get everyone's perspectives.


Anonymous said...

Patrick, it was a blast birding with you and Mike. I hope you guys enjoyed birding the less known areas of New York State and hopefully you got some good birds!

Anonymous said...

Come back any time. And sooner or later I'll head down to Sandy Hook...

Anonymous said...

I remember reading about this trip in 10,000 bird's post! Looks like you guys had a great trip! NYS Rocks!