First, thank-you to the Montezuma NWR, particularly Visitor Services Manager Andrea Van Beusichem and Biologist Linda Ziemba, for allowing this series of walks onto the dikes at Knox-Marsellus Marsh, where the public is usually prohibited.
Second, a big thank-you for the great work of co-leader Bob McGuire, without whom I would not have agreed to lead. Similar thanks to Josh Snodgrass and also to the several other experienced, scope-wielding birders whose help we requested, including Dominic Sherony, Mahlon Hurst, and Reuben Stoltzfus, to help find, point-out, show, and explain the ID of the shorebirds. Third, thanks to the approximately seventy people who joined us. Clearly there is great interest in seeing and learning about the many birds which Montezuma NWR in general and Knox-Marsellus Marsh in particular harbors in summer. I am really glad we could offer a couple of Saturday trips which can accommodate members of the strong Amish and Mennonite birding communities in our area. The weather was good: there were some clouds to reduce glare, but the rain held off, and the temperature was comfortable even though humidity was high. Creating and maintaining freshwater shorebird habitat is a challenge, and the previous night’s rainstorm reportedly reduced the mudflats significantly. The birds, though often distant, were numerous, varied, and active, and they provided pleasure, excitement, and challenge. Participants seemed happy. Below is a bird list I have compiled based on several reports. There may be omissions, as it was impossible to be with, to stay in communication with, or to interview everyone, so please let me know if you were on the trip and found additional species. There are still 3 shorebird walks scheduled of which I am aware, all officially starting at 7am at the Montezuma NWR Visitor Center: Sunday 25 August, principal leader Dave Nicosia Saturday 31 August, principal leader Josh Snodgrass Sunday 8 September, principal leader Dave Nicosia These guided walks are free and open to the public, and I am certain that people willing to share expertise and scope views will be especially helpful to the official leaders. There are still a few more species of shorebirds whose arrival we await. - - Dave Nutter Species observed on K-M walk 17 Aug 2019 - composite list Ducks were all in eclipse, female, or immature plumage Canada Goose - 100+ flew in from E Trumpeter Swan - adult pair Wood Duck - several Blue-winged Teal Gadwall American Wigeon Mallard - many American Black Duck Northern Pintail Green-winged Teal CANVASBACK - rare, 1 male, continuing from last week and before Ruddy Duck - 1 male Pied-billed Grebe - many, mostly striped-faced immatures, minus 1 Mourning Dove Ruby-throated Hummingbird Common Gallinule - several, mostly immatures American Coot Sandhill Crane - adult pair + fly-in adult pair with large juvenile BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER - transition plumage SEMIPALMATED PLOVER - several, mainly on distant mud in vegetation KILLDEER - flocks of 8 & 20 flew W as we arrived, several remained RUDDY TURNSTONE - 1 K-M flyby, 1 later in Eaton pond STILT SANDPIPER - 1 juvenile later at Mays Pt Pool, seen by at least 9 people who had been on the K-M walk LEAST SANDPIPER - often on distant mud in vegetation WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER - 2 or more on distant mud in vegetation, found by Reuben Stoltzfus, seen by several others PECTORAL SANDPIPER SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER - greatly outnumbered by Leasts SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER - 15 juveniles. Distant, difficult to discern plumage details. When feeding, only flat backs were seen. Several showed orange in tertials and some of those showed barring. Color, shape, & size of grouped birds seemed uniform. Some singles & small groups were not identified to species. Although Tim Lenz, viewing from East Road before our walk, reported several LONG-BILLED Dowitchers, I am unaware of any positive ID of that species by our group from the road or the dikes. WILSON’S SNIPE WILSON’S PHALAROPE - 1 pale juvenile near NE corners, swimming and pecking at surface algae SPOTTED SANDPIPER SOLITARY SANDPIPER - near SPOTTED SANDPIPER and both YELLOWLEGS GREATER YELLOWLEGS - several LESSER YELLOWLEGS - several Ring-billed Gull - many adults, some juveniles Herring Gull - 1 uniformly dark juvenile, larger than Ring-billed Gulls and Caspian Terns. We did not see the juvenile Laughing Gull which was reported the previous evening and the following morning. Caspian Tern - many adults, some juveniles BLACK TERN - 2 non-breeding plumage adults flying and perched Double-crested Cormorant AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN - 1 summer adult continuing from last evening American Bittern - 1 Great Blue Heron - many GREAT EGRET - 100+ Green Heron Black-crowned Night-Heron - several, mostly flying over Puddler or perched in trees along Puddler dikes Osprey Northern Harrier Cooper’s Hawk Bald Eagle - adult BROAD-WINGED HAWK - 1 juvenile high flyover Downy Woodpecker - 1 MERLIN - feeding atop pole on East Rd as we left PEREGRINE FALCON - 1 juvenile made multiple low passes over K-M early on. As we were leaving, the apparent same Peregrine for several minutes dove many, many times at an isolated stripe-faced immature Pied-billed Grebe on the water in the north channel. Each swoop of the Peregrine caused the grebe to quickly flinch, duck, dodge, freeze, or submerge at the last moment, an amazingly quick and effective judgement and action. During this long period no contact was made, and it seemed that perhaps the Peregrine was holding back, either due to its own youthful limited skills, or to avoid all risk of injury to itself, or to tire out its naive and confused prey. Although the grebe spent several seconds underwater a couple times and moved a few feet, it did not particularly swim toward a group of similar grebes 20 yards away, which I think might have improved its odds. Certainly flying away from an adept falcon would have been a poor option for a gangly grebe, assuming it was mature enough to fly. Eventually the Peregrine struck the grebe several times in succession, progressively injuring, maiming, and killing it, before finally grabbing the inert body from the surface and flying north over the woods. Peregrines are celebrated for their ability to grab and quickly kill a bird in flight by biting its neck, or to stoop at high speed to kill with a mid-air raking or impact of talons, then catch the carcass before it reaches the ground. But the only other Peregrine kill I have witnessed was like this, a series of harrying passes which eventually led to injury, and that time the falcon actually dispatched its prey, a Willet, by drowning it. It’s gruesome, but predators gotta eat, too. Willow Flycatcher - 1 silent Traill’s Empidonax in a Willow on dike Eastern Phoebe Eastern Kingbird Blue Jay American Crow Northern Rough-winged Swallow Purple Martin Tree Swallow Bank Swallow Barn Swallow - most swallows; other swallows reported mainly singles Marsh Wren American Robin Gray Catbird European Starling Cedar Waxwing American Goldfinch Song Sparrow - singing Swamp Sparrow - singing Bobolink Orchard Oriole Red-winged Blackbird - a few at K-M, hundreds in cornfield to W Common Yellowthroat - several Yellow Warbler - several PINE WARBLER - seen by several and photographed Northern Cardinal -- 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/ --