Thanks, Dave Nicosia, for doing a great job leading the walks, keeping eBird 
lists, and writing summaries! I have a few things to add. 

First, it made a big difference that the dike had been widely mowed for the 
Muckrace, so it was easy to view the impoundment. Not only could we watch from 
more places, but several people could stand next to each other without anyone’s 
view being blocked, and short people could just plain see, all of which had 
been difficult when the vegetation was tall everywhere along the dike. 
Thank-you, Refuge staff.

Second, it was Ken & Adriaan who found the small passerine flock in the SE 
corner of the woods, including Magnolia Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, a 
Red-eyed Vireo which surprisingly made a couple of wide sweeping sallies out 
from the woods, Swamp Sparrow, Song Sparrow (all of which I saw), and Least 
Flycatcher (which I missed).

Dave Nicosia listed a flyover Wilson’s Snipe, but from farther along the dike I 
managed to follow such a bird in my scope until it alit on the open mud, barely 
visible to me as I looked over an island of cattails. With several other folks, 
I walked on the dike past the cattails and proudly aimed my scope at the Snipe 
who was walking toward a sleeping Greater Yellowlegs and a preening Pectoral 
Sandpiper on either side of an inconsequential bit of weed stubble. The first 
person looking through my scope had a great view, but the second person 
couldn’t find the Snipe. I looked again, and neither could I. Then someone 
looking through another scope saw the Snipe’s head move in the weed stubble, 
and people again took turns watching. When I got my scope back, I watched the 
Snipe for awhile, too. Eventually I realized that I really could see most of 
the Snipe, but it matched the weed stubble in height, color, and pattern. This 
was a life bird for one of the people with me. 

Early in the walk I had fallen behind Dave Nicosia, and I saw 3 American 
Golden-Plovers flying back and forth over the marsh. They started low, but 
gradually gained altitude and eventually appeared to fly off toward the 
Wildlife Drive. At least 2 of them were adults in transition to winter plumage 
but still with considerable blotches of black below. Much later I found a 
single such bird walking on the mud, so I told people about it, and when I 
looked again, there were 3 plovers. Maybe they were the same birds that I saw 
depart a couple hours earlier, having determined that Knox-Marsellus had the 
best shorebird habitat around. 

Again people were interested in the subtleties of Stilt Sandpiper ID, so we 
worked on that while watching their distinctive vertical ramming feeding 
behavior among the more randomly pecking Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs. 

And I talked about Pectoral Sandpipers, whose color & pattern are similar to 
Least, but whose shape differs, the larger species having a proportionately 
smaller head with an actual neck showing at times (Least & Semipalmated 
Sandpipers look neck-less to me). 

And I talked about how to use color and shape and proportions in shorebird ID 

On our way out onto the dikes we saw several Long-billed Dowitchers, whose 
immaculate juvenile plumage had a cold grayish-tan hue overall and whose 
tertials were plain gray with narrow pale edges. When I was leaving, walking 
slow and falling behind everyone else, I discovered a juvenile Short-billed 
Dowitcher which must have just arrived. It had a warm overall orange glow in 
the sunlight from the edging on all the back & wing feathers, including the 
tertials, which had additional orange bars. I wished there were still people 
with me to show it to.                                                          

Among other marsh birds: 
The American White Pelican allowed wonderful scope views, including a close 
take-off and flyover as it went to visit Puddler temporarily. 
There were several Trumpeter Swans, who seemed to be having a discussion among 
themselves, murmuring clarinet notes.  
We watched a Merlin hunting low over the marsh whose presence was not 
appreciated by a Northern Harrier. 
After I heard about Dave Nicosia’s thermal full of migrants, the folks with me 
scanned and found what may have been the same thermal at a later stage. 
Although we did not see the butterfly, the swallows, or the Broad-winged Hawk, 
there were at least 7 Bald Eagles in it by the time we looked.

I’m glad to hear that there will be a planning meeting in June regarding 
shorebirding from the Knox-Marsellus dikes, because the migration really starts 
in early July. Thanks again, Linda Ziemba & Andrea VanBeusichem, and the rest 
of refuge staff for maintaining the habitat for the birds and allowing access 
to birders!

- - Dave Nutter

> On Sep 8, 2019, at 8:51 PM, David Nicosia <> wrote:
> We had a smaller group today vs previous weeks, I counted 26 at one point. 
> This is no surprise given the Muckrace the day before. Nevertheless, we had 
> an excellent outing with still a nice group of shorebirds and an even greater 
> group of people.  We had all levels from beginner to advanced.  Many people 
> got on life birds which was awesome!  There really wasn't anything new for 
> Knox-Marsellus that we could find. But we focused a lot on shorebird and 
> other species ID. A special thanks to Dave Nutter, who even after doing the 
> Muckrace the day before, came out and assisted in leading part of the group.  
> All these weeks, Dave Nutter has been a fixture on these walks either leading 
> or assisting and they wouldn't be the same without him! Thanks Dave!  I would 
> like to thank Adrian Burke from Binghamton University who also assisted in 
> finding birds for the group. 
> We were fortunate to be joined by Dr.Ken Rosenberg and Dr. Adriaan M. Dokter 
> of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  I appreciate Ken's insights on the 
> details and life histories of our shorebirds and other species. Ken went over 
> the finer points of shorebird ID with BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, LONG-BILLED vs 
> SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER, and several other species. He also explained molting 
> patterns, aging and other finer points. This was much appreciated among the 
> more advanced birders and beginners alike. Thanks Ken! 
> Bird Highlights: nice views of BAIRD'S SANDPIPER, AMERICAN GOLDEN-PLOVER, 
> YELLOWLEGS. The AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN was still present and took off right 
> in front of us. The summering CANVASBACK was still present. We had one 
> thermal that had 2 BALD EAGLES, OSPREY, several TVs, a BROAD-WINGED HAWK, and 
> a monarch butterfly. Above these raptors (and butterfly) were a load of 
> migrating swallows which was really cool. We also saw thousands of mainly 
> red-winged blackbirds which was an awesome sight over the fields by the 
> mucklands. 
> Here is the list we complied.
> We didn't bird much in the woods. I know Dave Nutter had a group that got on 
> some warblers and I believe a red-eyed vireo in the woods at the beginning 
> that we didn't . 
> We had a long discussion on the difference between Long and Short-billed 
> Dowitcher in juvenile plumage. I have a nice photo of both species in an 
> ebird list that shows photos of both species in juvenile plumage that I 
> promised I would link. See this ebird list from a few week ago. 
>   The LBDO is third bird from the 
> right all photos. Rest are SBDOs.  
> This is the last of the shorebird walks this fall migration season. I would 
> like to thank Linda Ziemba for doing a nice job at managing Knox-Marsellus 
> Marsh for the shorebirds and Andrea Van Beusichem for advertising and 
> promoting these walks.  
> Best,
> Dave Nicosia  
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