Martha Fischer and I participated in the DEC waterfowl survey this morning
on the west side of Cayuga Lake from Taughannock Point up almost to Deans
Cove. We didn't find anything particularly noteworthy, but diversity wasn't
bad, and there were definitely more birds around (in that section anyway)
than this time last year. Sheldrake was the center of activity as usual,
with thousands of Canada Geese and moderate-sized scattered groups of
Redhead and Ring-necked Ducks with Canvasback and scaup mixed in, as well
as Bufflehead, goldeneye, and all three mergansers around the fringes, as
well as two NORTHERN PINTAIL and a single GADWALL. We saw a couple of
Mallard x black duck hybrids during the day, as well as an odd male-like
Mallard with brown on the face and female-like patches on the sides,
perhaps an intersex female. Photos here:

The most noteworthy birds of the morning, however, were not waterfowl.
Martha spotted two AMERICAN PIPITS foraging along the shoreline at Deans
Cove after our survey:
And as we drove along South Street in Ovid looking for Snowy Owls on our
way back to Ithaca (no luck), we flushed a juvenile WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW
off the side of the road:

After heading back to Ithaca and finding the immature GLAUCOUS GULL
sleeping on the ice (
(likely the same bird that Bob McGuire had at the compost this morning), I
headed up the east side of the lake. Once again I found nothing noteworthy
on the waterfowl front, but while checking access points south of Union
Springs, I stumbled across a flock of tree sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos on
Great Gully Cove/Fire Lane 8 that contained a female OREGON DARK-EYED
JUNCO. It stood out immediately as being much warmer and browner than the
other birds, even a couple of fairly brown female Slate-colored. The gray
hood was dark and very distinct, contrasting with the brown back and
pinkish-brown sides. They didn't allow close approach and disappeared after
a few minutes, but I managed a couple of mediocre pictures:

Jay McGowan
Macaulay Library
Cornell Lab of Ornithology


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