Here is my report on yesterday’s trip around the lake. Of particular note: 3
Snowy Owls, Gryfalcon, Wood Duck, Glaucous Gull.
Cayuga Bird Club Field Trip 14 January 2108
Seven well-bundled up folks joined Ken and me for a day-long jaunt around the
lake. This trip was postponed from the previous weekend due to the cold and
wind. The conditions today were not much better, starting out around zero but
Because the south end of the lake was misted over, we began to bird in earnest
at Ladoga where we quickly got on a pair of Trumpeter Swans. Trumpeters are not
unusual in the Basin, but they are a rare sight in Tompkins County. Our ABA on
the birds brought several more birders out to see them. Then, following up on
the sound of distant Cardinal, we are drawn to nearby feeders and were able to
add Pine Siskin and Northern Mockingbird to several people’s year lists. From
the spit at Myers we were able to look past a couple of hunters to add two
The next stop was Belltown Dairy to try for field birds. We were hugely
rewarded with a large flock of Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and two Lapland
Longspurs feeding intermittently in the middle of the road and in the adjacent
field. The view of a Longspur on stubby legs, hunkered in the middle of the
road some 50 feet away, was the best that I have ever had!
We picked up Wild Turkey along Route 90 north of King Ferry and the continuing
Glaucous Gull from the bluffs just south of Aurora. There we also had our first
and rather small flock of Aythya ducks plus four White-winged Scoters and a
couple of Horned Grebes. I should note there that we never did come across the
large numbers of Aythya (numbering in the thousands) that had been seen the
previous week along the east side of the lake.
In Union Springs, the Factory Pond held the usual collection of Gadwall,
Buffleheads, Mallards, and Black Ducks as well as three Green-winged Teal and a
single Common Goldeneye. On to the Mill Pond we were able to pick out the
single Wood Duck amid the thousands of Canada Geese and assorted Aythya,
Mallards, Wigeon, and Gadwall. A quick check of the outlet creek yielded the
day’s only Belted Kingfisher and Song Sparrow. At this point we were already
well past lunch time and took a short break at the Nice ’n Easy - where we ran
into Gary Kohlenberg with great directions to the Seneca Falls Snowy Owl.
We found the first Snowy in a field just east of the airport runway and a
second one perched atop one of the hangers. At that point we were pretty much
done for the day and headed south to check on an earlier report of another owl.
As we passed the quarry on Hoster Road Diane said something like “That looks
the right shape for a falcon”. We stopped and, for the next hour, with help
from Kevin McGowan, tried for good scope views of a large, dark bird with a
consistently dark face that was perched in the tall trees above the quarry and,
maddeningly, obscured by branches. Photos were taken and the field marks were
discussed, to the ultimate conclusion that there was, again this year, a
Gyrfalcon in the area.
After that we really did head for home, with a quick stop along Ridge Road for
the third Snowy Owl of the day. The trip went a little longer than planned, but
the weather really wasn’t a deterrent. I’d have to say that it was a successful
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