This afternoon Ann Mitchell & I drove to the north end of the Cayuga Lake basin, visiting Lower Lake Rd, Mud Lock, Montezuma NWR Visitor Center & Wildlife Drive open to Seneca Spillway, Tschache Pool, Mays Point Pool, East Rd, Railroad Rd, and Van Dyne Spoor Rd.
Lower Lake Rd: Flock of 43 SNOW GEESE grazing on lawns just south of Wolffy's, including a HYBRID SNOW x ROSS'S GOOSE, which like several of the others was a bit crippled. Its size was small, head round, neck short & ridged, bill stubby and partly lavender, but it had a Snow Goose type dark grin patch on the lips. I'm sure lots of folks who count as Ross's any flyover small individual among a Snow Goose flock would have ticked this bird, but we got too good a look. Off Wolffy's there were a few various scattered ducks including our only RED-BREASTED MERGANSER of the day (a female), but from the boat ramp at Cayuga Lake State Park we saw thousands of ducks strewn in the distance to the north and east, including GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, CANVASBACK, REDHEAD, LESSER SCAUP, RING-NECKED DUCK, BUFFLEHEAD, RUDDY DUCK, a few COMMON and HOODED MERGANSERS, and just off the boat ramp a gorgeous, breeding plumage HORNED GREBE.
Mud Lock: an adult BALD EAGLE keeping vigil near this year's new nest in a tree south of the old one on the power pylon. We didn't spend much time here or check out the distant ducks to the south properly.
Montezuma NWR Visitor Center and Wildlife Drive open to Seneca Spillway: in the visitor center pond, a pair of GREEN-WINGED TEAL along with a few AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and CANADA GEESE; a pair of NORTHERN HARRIERS over the marshes; in Larue's Lagoon 2 male BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 10 mostly male NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 2 male NORTHERN PINTAILS, 5 pairs of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 20 HERRING GULLS of various ages, zero odd geese neither foreign, nor domestic, nor hybrid, only a few CANADAs; in the main pool a PIED-BILLED GREBE and an AMERICAN COOT fairly close, lots of distant CANVASBACKS and a few RING-NECKED DUCKS, and COMMON MERGANSERS, at least one TRUMPETER SWAN (likely its mate was half hidden in the marsh), and of course more local CANADA GEESE. On the shore below the Seneca Spillway was a fancy-plumed GREAT BLUE HERON.
Tschache Pool: We were greeted by a NORTHERN SHRIKE in the small trees by the parking lot; in the pool & marsh were plenty of AMERICAN WIGEON, RING-NECKED DUCKS, AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS, NORTHERN SHOVELERS, NORTHERN PINTAIL, GADWALL, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, CANADA GEESE, HERRING and RING-BILLED GULLS, and a few BUFFLEHEAD, and PIED-BILLED GREBES. Warm clothes, a good scope, a steady tripod, good weather, and patience are recommended. We ran out of the last two before surveying the more distant birds.
Mays Point Pool: many distant GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and a few AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and BUFFLEHEADS. This was surprisingly empty compared to my last visit on the 17th.
East Rd: several small groups of CANADA GEESE, a small group of SNOW GEESE, some distant CANVASBACKS, RING-NECKED DUCKS, etc; some SWANS SP, and ducks in Puddler Marsh, a large flock of SNOW GEESE in the distance in the mucklands. We didn't scour this site, just peered around hopefully but without success for the Pink-footed Goose or some Sandhill Cranes.
Railroad Rd: a single TUNDRA SWAN, and several AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN SHOVELERS, NORTHERN PINTAILS, BLUE- and GREEN-WINGED TEAL, and CANADA GEESE, overseen by an adult BALD EAGLE perched in a dead tree.
Van Dyne Spoor Rd: a female MERLIN atop an electric pole, a pair of noisy TRUMPETER SWANS flying over the marsh alongside the road, some AMERICAN COOTS to the south by the end of the road, the usual dabblers in a flooded field to the north of the end, at least 7 immature BALD EAGLES flying over the marsh and one adult perched at the edge of the forest, plus a couple of RED-TAILED HAWKS flying around. We didn't stay 'til Short-eared Owls should be out.
So, to the person wondering whether it's worth going to Montezuma NWR, I say yes.
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