Sunrise Birding – New York State Weekend May 15-17

18 05 2009
Yellow Warbler - Luke Tiller

Yellow Warbler - Luke Tiller

Lots of traveling has meant a break from blogging for a few days. I just got unpacked after an amazing trip to NY State for the weekend with a group of really fantastic birders. It really was action packed and great fun all around with lots of amazing views of great birds, many good laughs and a couple of memorable meals along the way. I am just writing up a full report but wanted to post a few highlights from the trip. Co-leading on the trip was Joe Bear (so many many thanks go out to him for his invaluable eyes and ears) and I had some excellent behind the scenes assistance from Curt McDermott (see Hawk Owl Gallery here) and Chrissy Guarino (see Hawk Owl trip here).

Birding highlights were numerous but special mention has to go to seeing a Ruby-throated Hummingbird giving it’s ‘swinging’ display flight, a Scarlet Tanager popping up in a flowering dogwood just a few feet from the group, as well as hundreds of migrant swallows, comprising 5 species, strung out on the telephone wires at the Basha Kill. As for the top birds, they were legion: Virginia Rail out in the open at our feet, an inquisitive Sora skulking through the marsh just yards away, 2 Bitterns (one booming hauntingly at dusk and the second in flight past us), scope views of Kentucky Warbler and a jaunty Red-headed Woodpecker frolicking on a nearby fence.

Throw in Olive-sided Flycatcher, 3 Upland Sandpipers, 2 Grey-cheeked Thrush at our feet, point blank views of Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and Black-billed Cuckoo, Common Nighthawk hunting and calling overhead, more Hooded Warblers than you could shake a stick at as well as Cerulean and Golden-wing and, as a finale, being serenaded by multitudes of Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks at Galeville and you can tell it was quite a weekend. Simply outstanding! Thanks to everyone who came and made the whole thing so special!

Check out all of our forthcoming trips here. Check out the full trip report here.





American (Buff-bellied) Pipit – breeding plumage!

18 05 2009

Stopped in at Allen’s Meadows on the way back from dropping the van after a wonderful weekend in NY State (see post here). It was later in the morning, so activity had somewhat subsided and a Canada Warbler was the only one singing when I arrived (there was one in my yard this morning as well!)

After a little wander around, I picked up the sound of a pipit on the freshly turned over community gardens. It seemed quite late to have pipit, but there it was pootling around on the soil picking up worms and other bugs. Although uncommon in the state pipit is expected at Allen’s in fall and early spring, I spoke to a couple of friends though and this seemed like a fairly exceptional late date. Most exciting was that it was in breeding plumage (uncommon enough not to be illustrated in the little eastern Sibley). It wasn’t quite as magnificent as the Rocky Mountain subspecies that I had recently seen in Colorado (illustrated here) but it was still quite a striking little bird. Hard to do it justice with these record shots (it was quite flighty), but it gives you the idea (and this illustrates what your average non-breeding bird looks like).