First, here’s a note about tomorrow’s weather and scheduling.  The forecast
calls for likely thunderstorms on Monday morning, peaking just when we are
planning our two group walks for the Finger Lakes Land Trust Spring Bird
Quest (SBQ).  I will definitely show up at the start times for both walks,
but I think curtailment or cancellation on the spot are distinctly
possible.  Please plan accordingly, especially if you have a long drive.

(If we do lose both walks, then I will hope to do an impromptu make-up
session later in the day.  Please check email around midday if you’re

In any case, weather and everything else were ideal for today’s SBQ walks
at the Bock-Harvey Forest Preserve and the Stevenson Forest Preserve.
Again we had very strong turnout -- 25 people at Bock-Harvey, 19 people at
Stevenson.  I would guess that these were the first visits to either
preserve for almost everyone.  And again our sightings somehow defied any
expectation that too many birders might spoil the birding.  (Ken Kemphues,
Diane Morton, and Suan Yong helped enormously in co-leading both walks, as
they did yesterday.)

Our first highlight at Bock-Harvey was a female YELLOW WARBLER by the road,
pushing herself into her nearly-completed nest to custom-shape it.  There
were many other birds here as usual, including a singing CHESTNUT-SIDED
WARBLER and a pair of EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES occasionally coming very close
together to perch before the next sally.  We got to know the varied and
somewhat atypical songs of the three AMERICAN REDSTARTS in this first patch
of woods, with some sight confirmation for most of us.  Here I also heard a
before everyone arrived.

Over on the yellow-blazed trail in the old-growth woods, only a small
subset of us had fleeting sightings of WOOD THRUSHES, OVENBIRD, and more
redstarts. But I believe that everyone eyewitnessed a most striking and
dramatic moment, as two male SCARLET TANAGERS silently sized up a raccoon,
deeply asnooze with belly and chin resting on a branch, arms dangling,
about 20 feet off the ground.  Some other birders saw a female tanager here
too, but I missed her.

I think only one of us saw one male HOODED WARBLER, despite a slow, quiet,
vigilant walk through areas where I’d seen them recently.  But as we tried
to wait out one Hooded Warbler (who continues to end every other song in an
unusual explosive squeak), we got the surprise of the morning – a
BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO making short flights and taking long pauses in a sunny
patch in the otherwise shadowy woods.  Several of our group even got scope
views of the bird’s red orbital ring, thanks to Ken’s quick positioning.

Then we walked along the edge of the meadow up to the Locust Lean-To.  Here
we saw a male BALTIMORE ORIOLE perched within a body length or two of an
EASTERN KINGBIRD.  Suan also got many of our participants onto another male
Scarlet Tanager here.

It was harder to see birds at Stevenson, as expected, but we did all get
long scope views of an ALDER FLYCATCHER singing in the meadow overlook
area.  Many of us (not I) got good views of a VEERY along the initial
straightaway.  We heard one HOODED WARBLER across the stream, plus a couple
hemlocks.  I was glad also to pick up the weekend’s only BLUE-HEADED VIREO
so far.  (I think that my weekend species tally now stands at 78 species.)

But I think that we’d all agree that the greatest thrills came from the
butterflies in the parking lot – ten Eastern Tiger Swallowtails jostling to
collect mineral-rich moisture from a 50-square-inch patch of some
mysterious mud, heedless of our close presence for many minutes, plus an
exquisite and cooperative female Black Swallowtail.

So whatever thunderbolts and torrents we might have to dodge tomorrow, I’ll
gladly take what we got today.  Thanks to all for two great outings!

Mark Chao


Cayugabirds-L List Info:


Please submit your observations to eBird:


Reply via email to