First, my apologies for the delay in this trip summary. On August 4th, over
30 intrepid birders of all ages and skill levels came out for the first
guided shorebird walk of the season at Montezuma NWR. We met at the Visitor
Center and consolidated at the East Rd. overlook to head out on the dikes
of Knox-Marcellus and Puddler marshes. The weather was great in the morning
and heated up as the day progressed. The insects were
mercifully few, and viewing conditions were quite good for the first few
We encountered a nice diversity of shorebirds, with much opportunity for
direct comparison of tricky species. The birds were quite flighty at times,
likely a combination of an early pass by a Merlin, and their practice of
synchronized flight for migration. There was a fair amount of re-shuffling
of the flocks, but many opportunities for prolonged study as well.
Some highlights: a SPOTTED SANDPIPER at the SE corner of K-M. Good
comparative views of groups of species that present ID challenges: GREATER
and LESSER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, SEMIPALMATED
PLOVER and KILLDEER, as well as the troubling trio of STILT SANDPIPERS,
LONG-BILLED and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS. We also had PECTORAL sandpipers
with their distinctively neat breast streaking. We had a flock of 18
SANDHILL CRANES at the north end of Puddler(and another group of 3 for 21
total), who provided great views and bugled as the flew over.
Ultra-highlights include an ABA area rare female RUFF in drab nonbreeding
plumage discovered by Jay McGowan, who helped many get on the bird.
(Thanks, Jay!). And a continuing juvenile YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERON
spotted by Dave Nutter. This young bird was quite cooperative- perching for
some time in a bare branched tree near Puddler, and offering great scope
views. An obliging juvenile BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON flew in to the marsh
edge just after the YCNH retreated to deep cover, allowing a good study of
the differences between these similar and cryptic juvenile birds.
We all dispersed generally once the heat became overwhelming, but that was
an excellent morning of birding. A very big THANK YOU to all who came out
for the walk, with special thanks to the experienced birders who shared
their eyes, insight, and optics. And another very big thanks to the staff
at MNWR for granting us the opportunity to get up close and personal with
the birds, and to witness the benefits of the hard work they do maintaining
this crucial habitat for wildlife! Dave Nicosia will be leading more
shorebird walks in the coming Saturdays. Hope to see you there!
P.S.- I am happy to add anyone from the walks to the eBird checklist I kept,
just send me your email or eBird username off list. Thanks!
Cayugabirds-L List Info:
Please submit your observations to eBird: