Saturday I walked with my daughter down Shindagin Hollow Rd., in the State 
Forest, to the intersection with Gulf Creek Rd. for exercise, fun and to show 
her the area. It was very birdy and beautiful as usual especially the beaver 
pond at the bottom of the hill. This place always reminds me of the Adirondacks 
and is a favorite of mine. 

There was a surprising amount of traffic on Shindagin Rd. both cars and 
mountain bikers savoring the nice day. Some out of state plates on cars of 
dozens parked at the intersection and FLT crossing. I was reminded how popular 
this area is and how much we need wild areas during a pandemic. 

We were amazed at how many Red Newts were crossing the road. Some didn’t make 
it unharmed, but most of them did. I learned about their life cycle, that they 
are toxic, but contain off the charts cuteness. We tried to help a couple on 
the journey, but they are very independent minded and don’t need any 

We noticed a dead bird in the pond by the outflow pipe under the road; a dead 
male Mallard. Kayla thought it quite interesting and checked to find it had no 
head. I thought that was weird, but I have seen it before, and guessed maybe an 
owl had decapitated it. I’m not actually positive owls would or could do this, 
but seem to remember some discussion about this. If anyone knows if it can be a 
thing please enlighten me. 
I scanned the pond and saw movement which was another male Mallard struggling 
in the water. His body floated with the head hanging underwater unable to lift 
it up. He may have had a broken neck. I wasn’t able to reach the poor guy to 
end his misery which made me sad. More scanning found a third male Mallard 
floating in the pond dead. I didn’t see any more, but there could have been one 
in the grass. Three seems like a typical total for this small water to hold on 
any particular day. 

My hypothesis is that they were all shot on the water with a shotgun. To 
cleanly decapitate a bird the shot would have to be at very close range. The 
other birds could have all been hit with the same shot if they had been 
swimming very together. This water is very small and birds not hit would have 
flown and probably circled around. It’s not likely they would have been shot in 
the air and fallen back into this small area.
This poaching event is very disturbing and we had another event like this in 
the same general area. I’m thinking of the eagle shooting over bait. No hunter 
would shoot birds in a barrel or sitting on the water even in season. In my 
opinion this is just criminal at any time. 

We all have bigger social troubles overall, but felt compelled to document this 
as a complete view of birding in the finger lakes. The little things still go 

Happier birding today, 



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