Here is a great and detailed description of our Seneca County Big Day on Saturday, for those who enjoy a little vicarious birding.... Logan and Augie are two of the fantastic Cornell undergraduate birders we have in the area right now.
Sent from my iPhone Begin forwarded message: From: Logan Kahle <lo...@archive.org<mailto:lo...@archive.org>> Date: May 15, 2017 at 4:33:12 AM EDT To: "Kenneth V. Rosenberg" <k...@cornell.edu<mailto:k...@cornell.edu>>, Niles August Kramer <na...@cornell.edu<mailto:na...@cornell.edu>>, <jw...@cornell.edu<mailto:jw...@cornell.edu>> Subject: Seneca Big day: Little Gull, fallout waterbirds, etc (long) Hi all, Yesterday Jay McGowan, Ken Rosenberg, and Augie Kramer did a big day in Seneca County. The ominous weather forecasts gave doubts in our mind that conditions would line up, but fate smiled on us enough to give us just enough rain to cause a waterfowl fallout, but not enough to completely kill passerine activity. We had a tight route and a day filled with migrant fallout ducks and waterbirds on the lakeside, coupled with good luck with the south county breeders, but that was counteracted by very slow movement with warblers and shorebirds, as well as a complete lack of migrant hawks. Overall, an impressive effort in this small basin county. Full route (long): We started the day in the southern forests. In particular, at midnight we were looking for Screech-Owl at Burdick rd. Despite our best whistling attempts, we could not pull one out of where they traditionally call in the daytime. However, razor-eared Jay picked up on a calling BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO overhead, our only one of the day. Additionally, an OVENBIRD sang its sputtery flight-song in the night. We would encounter a weirdly large number of this species in the next few hours. We continued onto Townsend rd in hopes of stumbling into a screcher again. No game. Little did we know, but we would hear one here in the morning...guess some owls just aren't up at midnight. Anyway, we did manage to squeeze out another singing Ovenbird as well as a calling WHITE-THROATED SPARROW. We then tried for one of our long shots: Barred Owl at the corner of Ames and Townsend. No eBird reports existed for the southern half of Seneca county, so we kept our expectations reasonably low. However, after a little bout of hooting we waited and, sure enough, a BARRED OWL responded. This saved us a good amount of time second night. Nice hootin, Jay! We then continued down the hill to the piece of Lodi Center rd with extensive spruces (which I have nicknamed the "Seneca Boreal Zone") to search for saw-whets. No luck. The only bird was a singing Ovenbird (surprise!) We continued to Caywood Point. We had delusions of Whip and Long-ear here but also had more reasonable expectations of Screecher and Woodcock. Anyway, none of the hoped-for megas materialized, but we did pull out a night-calling RING-BILLED GULL and FIELD SPARROW and, finally, a close EASTERN SCREECH-OWL by the parking lot. Good stuff. Also a lone warbler NFC. We continued to Neal rd. Ken had scouted Short-eared Owl here earlier this spring, but none called on the day. We were greeted, however, by a deafening chorus of "Peent!s" from at least four different AMERICAN WOODCOCKS. Fun stuff. We continued onto Dean rd looking for a previous report of Great Horned Owl. No luck. Still, the Woodcock chorus peented on, and was joined by another singing Ovenbird as well as a lucky singing GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. This simplified our predawn schedule that originally centered around getting the Sparrow. We continued onto McCarriger rd. At this point Great Horned Owl was our only really nocturnal bird we still needed in South county, so we went to where a nest was photographed in April. Despite waiting for a decent period, our only birds were a calling KILLDEER and a singing SONG SPARROW. Getting a little nervous about the owl, we continued onto Sampson SP, where they had been reported previously. Dipped. Phooey. Did have another Woodcock, and the first of dawn (FoD) GRAY CATBIRD singing away. Also a zeep NFC but alas, no identified NFCs for the night besides the cuckoo. At this point we figured we would have to get Great Horn second night at Montezuma, so we headed to our predawn Vesper Sparrow spot. While Ken had scouted 4 here earlier this year, they were all silent this day. However, we did pick up the first pre-dawn singers: many AMERICAN ROBINS and HORNED LARK along with CHIPPING SPARROW, MORNING DOVE, BARN SWALLOW, and a juvenile GREAT HORNED OWL! Late save. We blasted on to our dawn spot. En route we picked up EASTERN TOWHEE and WOOD THRUSH. We started dawn at our stake-out loc along Townsend rd. Winter Wren and Hermit Thrush had been here during scouting, though both had been absent for the last 2-3 visits, so we kept our expectations low. However, lo and behold, a Jay picked up on a singing WINTER WREN. We also picked up scarce residents like VEERY and RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH among more common residents. Proceeding onto Ames rd, we picked up a distantly singing HERMIT THRUSH right where Jay and I had pinned one down on Wednesday. Additionally, a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER sang a few times and we picked up YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER and SCARLET TANAGER. Dropping down the hill to Wilkens rd we heard the LEAST FLYCATCHER continuing from Wednesday along with a singing BOBOLINK and BROWN THRASHER. We then continued onto the Seneca Boreal Zone along Lodi Center rd. As hoped for, several RUFFED GROUSE were drumming away. We also picked up some migrants like NASHVILLE, CHESTNUT-SIDED, and BLUE-WINGED WARBLERS, all common in scouting. We proceeded to the southern terminus of the road, finding the lone breeding PRAIRIE WARBLER we could find in scouting. We continued to Seneca rd, where Jay and I had had Blue-headed Vireo and Raven on Wednesday. No luck with those birds, but did pick up Pileated Woodpecker. Those two species would end up be the only two real misses coming out of the south. Heading east to Burdick rd we picked up GREAT BLUE and GREEN HERONS as well as SPOTTED and SOLITARY SANDPIPERS at the pond, as well as a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and a late save PURPLE FINCH, and a NORTHERN FLICKER by the houses. Cutting back through Townsend rd, we picked up a WILD TURKEY, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, and a WOOD DUCK in the grassy section, and a day-calling EASTERN SCREECH-OWL in the nearby woods. Proceeding west through Townsend rd we picked up a singing PINE WARBLER by Ames rd. Heading to the Neal rd/Lodi Center rd grassland spot, our pick-up with Grasshopper Sparrow earlier allowed us to swing by, pick up RING-NECKED PHEASANT and NORTHERN HARRIER, and leave in short order. Driving past Neal rd on our way out of the Finger Lakes National Forest, we quickly picked up two AMERICAN KESTRELS, then headed west. On our way to the lakeshore, we picked up a single EASTERN BLUEBIRD. We arrived at the gorge above Lodi pt and listened, primarily for Louisiana Waterthrush, which we did not find. We did pick up RED-EYED VIREO. We continued down to the lake at Lodi Point and had pretty good lakewatching. Among expected species, we picked up both RED-BREASTED and COMMON MERGANSERS, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER and BONAPARTE'S GULL along with CHIMNEY SWIFT, BELTED KINGFISHER and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW along with a seemingly out-of-place Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Driving back up the hill to Lodi Point Road we searched for Louisiana Waterthrush again, again to no avail. We did stumble across a migrant flock near a residence that was very productive, netting us GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, CEDAR WAXWING, BLACK-AND-WHITE and BLACKBURNIAN WARBLERS, and INDIGO BUNTING. The Waxwings, Blackburnian, and Buntings were the only ones all day. We also added roosting TURKEY VULTURE, which can be hard on rainy days (it ended up very much not being hard today, though). We proceeded up to our stakeout Vesper spot where a little bit of playback lead a lone VESPER SPARROW to fly in, silent. We had all but lost hope for this species once we dipped at 4:30 am, so it was a late save! Phew! We also added a flyover AMERICAN PIPIT here. Anyway, on to Williard. We then hit the Bonavista Golf Course, where we'd staked out Golden-crowned Kinglets in the spruces. Shortly after we arrived, we picked up our target CAROLINA WREN shortly followed by our stakeout GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET as well as a surprise MAGNOLIA WARBLER (perhaps a breeder despite the elevation?) We continued onto Williard City Park where Ken and I had staked out a Snow Goose. No luck with that but birds like AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, BUFFLEHEAD, and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT were welcome additions to the day list. We headed briefly to Sampson but added no new birds besides a few HERRING GULLS. On to Seneca Lake SP. Seneca Lake SP was probably the most unexpectedly productive of all our spots. We managed to find all of our targets plus more, including several weather-induced late drop-ins. Among highlights were both GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, LONG-TAILED DUCK, White-winged Scoter, COMMON GOLDENEYE, HORNED and RED-NECKED GREBE, DUNLIN, LITTLE GULL (a sweet pick by Jay), GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL, ALL SIX SWALLOWS (new were CLIFF, TREE, and BANK), Least Flycatcher, and Black-and-white and Nashville Warbler. After that we proceeded to Waterloo to check on our staked-out FISH CROW, which we found with ease across from the "Fish Crow Cafe" (West Main Kitchen). After a brief stop at Dunkin' Donuts we drove through Seneca Falls looking for migrant songbirds and feederbirds. We struck out with Hummingbird and White-crowned Sparrow but did add a HAIRY WOODPECKER at a feeder, our only one of the day. Then following the report from Dave Kennedy of Ruddy Turnstone we continued onto the Gravel rd Pond, where we easily picked up the four continuing RUDDY TURNSTONES along with a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and a few LEAST SANDPIPERS. We continued down the road to the next pond where a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was singing away on a rooftop. On our way to Montezuma, we pulled over on a whim because Jay heard White-crowned Sparrow. Sure enough, several WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were foraging away. At another pulloff we heard a singing TENNESSEE WARBLER among other migrants. Continuing onto Armitage we were shocked to quickly pick up two of our primary targets, PROTHONOTARY WARBLER and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, both singing on the Seneca side within two minutes. Many minutes more, however, failed to produce our only stake-out Brown Creeper. Creeper would end up being perhaps our most egregious landbird miss for the day. Another bird at the west end was a lone calling BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER. Continuing to the east end of the road we stumbled upon a great little migrant group that included BLUE-HEADED VIREO, CERULEAN WARBLER, and CAPE MAY WARBLER as well as Tennessee and Nashville Warblers. Additionally Jay picked up on a RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD briefly, a bird we did not see again on the day. We then entered the Montezuma Wetlands for the first time all day, coming in with a solid 139 species. It is here where things started to slow down a bit, however. We arrived at the mucklands and started scanning. It was immediately apparent, however, that the duck and shorebird diversity was way down. We were, with time, able to pick out every duck we needed, including GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, BLUE- and GREEN-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN SHOVELER, NORTHERN PINTAIL, RING-NECKED DUCK and a lone male CANVASBACK, as well as TRUMPETER SWAN and GREATER and LESSER YELLOWLEGS. We failed to find any other new shorebirds, however, and no Eurasian Wigeon were among the just four or so Americans seen. We then drove one of the back roads, picking up a singing BAY-BREASTED WARBLER while we were at it. Continuing to East rd, Knox Marcellus was unproductive as it has been this spring. Still, AMERICAN COOT and PIED-BILLED GREBE made additions for the day. Continuing to Towpath, Ken picked up on a flyover HOODED MERGANSER, and we also enjoyed VIRGINIA RAIL, COMMON GALLINULE, SORA, and MARSH WREN. We continued on to Mays Point, but unfortunately no new birds, not even Red-headed Woodpecker, awaited us there. A brief stop at Tschatche pulled out a single BLACK TERN and a late save in the form of a flyover PEREGRINE FALCON. Looking through the flock of migrants by the parking lot failed to pull out anything new. Onto the Wildlife Drive netted us two seen LEAST BITTERNS, a dirty BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON as well as REDHEAD, RUDDY DUCK SANDHILL CRANE. The drive cleaned up our ducks for the day (they were our 24th species). With few birds left in montezuma, we blasted south. We had several unsuccessful stops, such as Lott Farm, VanRiper Preserve and several neighborhoods around Sheldrake. Aroung the town of Varick, however, we picked up on a long-continuing group of SNOW GEESE. Continuing to Potter rd, we finally caught up with a singing LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH. On to Sheldrake Point where we found another bird that had been eluding us all day, a single adult male ORCHARD ORIOLE. It was nearly sunset, so we decided to blast up to the mucklands again to see if any new shorebirds had dropped in/were calling. While none of our egregious shorebird misses such as Pectoral or Semipalmated Sandpipers were calling, we did hear many hundred Least Sandpipers and both Yellowlegs calling as they flew over the road, possibly for migration. Jay picked up on two distant flying WILSON'S SNIPE and we cleaned up Black-crowned Night-Heron, with many flying over the horizon. Among them, one AMERICAN BITTERN at 9:30pm. Bittern was the last bird of the day, and, besides some unsuccessful NFCing at Burdick, it concluded our day. We had an amazing day with a total of 171 species found. The day was incredible for lakeshore drop-ins as well as ducks, but was light on NFCs, hawks, warblers, and shorebirds. Here's a few statistics for the day: 24 species of Duck (high) 11 species of Shorebirds (very low) 21 species of Warbler (low) We drove a total of 285 miles in Seneca county, covering every major region of the county except the northwest corner and the Seneca Army Depot. We had 54 species seen at just a single location, of which 32 had only a single individual all day (8 of these were Warblers). We missed only nine species that we expect are more than an extremely localized breeder in the county (mostly since they were not in yet). We had 4 dirty birds: Hooded Merganser, Snipe, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Black-billed Cuckoo (NFC heard only by Jay). We had many unfortunate misses. Some of them include: Brant, Mute Swan, Eurasian Wigeon, Great Egret, Upland Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper (given our scouting, I'm unsure any have been at Montezuma yet this year), Pectoral Sandpiper, Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Stilt Sandpiper, either Dowitcher, Cooper's, Sharp-shinned, or Broad-winged Hawk, Common Nighthawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Red-headed Woodpecker, Merlin, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Willow, Alder and Acadian Flycatchers, Common Raven, Brown Creeper, Gray-cheeked and Swainson's Thrush, Hooded, Black-throated Blue, Blackpoll, Mourning, Canada, and Wilson's Warblers, Northern Parula, and Pine Siskin. So, with a later year, and with better conditions for NFCs, I believe it would be possible to get a significantly better total, possibly well into the 180s or even to 190. We also kept a cutthroat mammal list for the day and ended with a whopping 10, but two were dirty so it didn't pass the 95% rule (in no particular order): White-tailed Deer, House Mouse (dirty), Red Fox, Striped Skunk, Virginia Opossum, Muskrat, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Woodchuck, Eastern Cottontail, bat sp (dirty) If there's anything to be learned from this day it is the amount of untapped area that lies still mostly unexplored in Seneca county outside of Montezuma. We had already found 131 species before even setting foot in the refuge, and we also hadn't visited most of the traditional non-Montezuma seneca birding locs then (e.g. any spot on the Cayuga Lakeshore, Lott Farm, Seneca Meadows, etc). So, I would encourage any of you who have gotten this far in this post to pay a visit to some of these spectacular areas at some point this year, and help us better understand what exists in Seneca county in the world beyond Montezuma. Good birding, Logan Kahle Ken Rosenberg Jay McGowan Augie Kramer -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --