This weekend, Miyoko, Tilden, and I paid our first visit to the Finger
Lakes Land Trust’s Summerland Farm Preserve in Caroline.

Dr. Anne Boyer donated these 140 acres to the Land Trust in the summer of
2019.  The preserve comprises a vast meadow of tall grass and wildflowers,
as well as deep deciduous forest.  It connects neatly into the Emerald
Necklace greenbelt and also protects a key stretch of the Finger Lakes
Trail between Potato Hill State Forest and Robinson Hollow State Forest.
The initial stretch of trail along the meadow offers tremendous long views
on a clear day.

On Saturday, I thought I heard GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS singing in the grass (a
few ticking notes, then a rough, unmusical trill, without the sad-sounding
second ending note typical of Savannah Sparrow).  I heard no typical
Savannah Sparrow songs.  On Sunday I returned alone in mid-morning, but
heard only one distant candidate for Grasshopper Sparrow, plus one
normal-sounding Savannah Sparrow.  I also saw two Savannah Sparrows
carrying food right next to the Finger Lakes Trail.

But I still think that it’s worth listening from the trail for Grasshopper
Sparrows.  I welcome other people’s reports, especially if you can get
visual confirmation.

In any case, this is also one of the best places I’ve ever seen in this
area for watching BOBOLINKS.  On Saturday, we saw at least six of them,
both males and females, and I think that there are many more breeding pairs
in the other grassy parts of the preserve not visible from the trail.   We
watched males displaying, occasionally chasing each other around, and
accompanying mates.  At one point we also saw four males roosting
peacefully for a couple of minutes in one flowering bush.  (Close
examination of photos reveals that at least one male is already starting to
molt into his brown winter plumage.)  I’m looking forward to returning
later in the season and counting the Bobolinks, including this year’s new

In the woods, we found a fine variety of breeding birds, including a few
RAVEN, and what I think was a parent and fledgling BROAD-WINGED HAWK
calling to each other.  I didn’t go into the woods on Sunday.

There is no parking lot at this preserve.  The Land Trust recommends trying
to park along the southern road shoulder near where the Finger Lakes Trail
crosses Blackman Hill Road.  On the north side of the road, there’s a
gravel area that could hold multiple cars, but as I understand it, this
seems to be a turnaround for service vehicles and should not be blocked.

(Note also that the Finger Lakes Trail was closed in the preserve during
May, because of hunting season.  That’s why I didn’t visit during this
year’s Spring Bird Quest.)

Mark Chao


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