Ken Kemphues and I led a group of 11 enthusiastic birders on a half day trip along the east side of Cayuga Lake and venturing into the farm fields of King Ferry. We started at Stewart Park, where the ice still extends far out so that views of birds on the lake were pretty distant. We had better viewing from East Shore Park, where all of us were able to see LONG-TAILED DUCKS, WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS, and a raft of Aythya, which included both GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, and a few CANVASBACK with the many REDHEADs. COMMON GOLDENEYE and COMMON MERGANSERs were easy to spot, and a couple of RED_BREASTED MERGANSERs were seen. A small flock of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were in a near tree, and Leigh and Wes spotted a YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER there just before the birds took flight.
At Ladoga we found more LONG-TAILED DUCKS, but not many other waterfowl besides GOLDENEYE, CANADA GEESE and a single PIED-BILLED GREBE. A surprise was finding an immature COOPER’S HAWK that perched for good scope views, enabling us to see its yellow eye, banded tail and slightly mottled back. We moved on to Myers Point, and while viewing the waterfowl there, including RING-NECKED DUCKS, we noticed the gulls suddenly take to the sky. When searching the sky for a possible raptor, Ken and Wes spotted a new lump on the spit - a SNOWY OWL had landed there! All of us got great views- very close! The owl was resting pretty peacefully, but AMERICAN CROWs started coming to check it out. The owl tried threatening postures against three crows, but they drove it into flight. I believe Paul Anderson was able to get a video of the Owl during this interval. Seeing this Snowy Owl was a thrilling bonus for the field trip! We even heard its cries as it flew low over the water being pursued by crows. We next headed toward Belltown Dairy via Davis Road, looking for Horned Larks or Snow Buntings, but found neither. Continuing toward King Ferry, we turned on Center Road and were rewarded with about 20 SNOW BUNTINGs and 40-50 HORNED LARKs, many of them at the edge of the road making for good viewing. Luckily auto traffic was nonexistent, so we were all able to get well-positioned for spending some time looking at the birds, even seeing the differences between male and female Horned Larks. As we left we passed another large flock of Snow Buntings further down the road. We took a break at the Corner Store in King Ferry and then went on to Aurora. One BALD EAGLE was perched in the tree with the eagle’s nest near Poplar Ridge Road and Route 90. A NORTHERN FLICKER and RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER were active in the trees near the pullout. Further on, at the Aurora Post Office parking area, we scoped the lake and added HORNED GREBEs to our list. We still had time to make it up to Union Springs to look through the ducks on the North Mill Pond. Among the many REDHEADs were BUFFLEHEAD, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, and a HOODED MERGANSER. MALLARDs were gathered near the pond’s edge, and a couple of WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHes and a TUFTED TITMOUSE flitted above us. It was a great trip overall - good looks at the local winter birds in good light - with a great group of people. We really enjoyed the day. - Diane Morton -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/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/ --