Livia and I went up to Montezuma today (4 July 2014). The highlight on the
way up was a nice stop at the Frontenac Marina in Union Springs, where we
saw 12 BONAPARTE'S GULLS on the piers, 10 on the west pier at the marina
and two more on the pier at Frontenac Park to the north. Though far from
unprecedented, early July Bonaparte's on Cayuga Lake are pretty odd, and
this is by far the highest number I am aware of. Only two COMMON TERNS were
present today, down from the numbers I was seeing a couple of weeks ago but
still notable for Cayuga Lake in the summer. They seemed to be a pair, with
one flying back to present the other with a fish at one point.
With quite a few scattered reports in eBird of Least Bitterns around the
refuge lately, I had high hopes of seeing one today. I was not
disappointed. As we stopped along the Wildlife Drive just past Larue's
Lagoon, about where the first channel ends on the left side of the drive
and becomes more open cattail marsh, I spotted a LEAST BITTERN flying away.
As we waited, we saw another 9 or so Least Bittern flight events from a
minimum of five birds, perhaps several more. Two landed quite close to the
drive in the cattails and we were able to get an obscured look at one at
the edge of the vegetation before it hunkered down and bobbed, cat-like,
then launched itself farther back into the reeds. We drove the drive again
in the afternoon and saw another Least Bittern fly up from the same spot
after only a few seconds, so they seem to be favoring that area.
Other birds on the drive included grunting VIRGINIA RAILS along the first
channel of the Wildlife Drive and across from Benning, and a third giving
high-pitched call notes and sitting out in the open preening in the same
area as the Least Bitterns. An AMERICAN BITTERN flew across the drive in
front of us and landed out of sight in Larue's. At Benning we had about
eight GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 10 Killdeer, three LEAST SANDPIPERS, four Spotted
Sandpipers, and one SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. The Solitary Spot on the right
at the beginning of the drive had two Spotted Sandpipers when we passed in
the morning, but on return a few hours later they had been replaced by two
SOLITARY SANDPIPERS. We missed the NORTHERN SHOVELER FAMILY that others
reported this week and back in June, but Mallards, Wood Ducks, Pied-billed
Grebes, American Coots, and Common Gallinules all had youngsters in tow.
Knox-Marsellus was busy as usual, but the sun came out just in time to make
late-morning viewing difficult. Good numbers of both yellowlegs were out on
the flats, as well as a handful of Least Sandpipers and at least one
PECTORAL SANDPIPER, but we couldn't pick out anything else. GREEN-WINGED
TEAL numbers were impressive, much like last summer, at least 100. Gadwall,
American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Sandhill Crane, and Snow Goose were
also among the species present.
We didn't see or hear the Prothonotaries on a lengthy walk of the road, but
the RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were around at Mays Point, frequently bring food
to the nest hole, inside of which at least one nestling was visible.
Lots of dragonflies and a few butterflies around as well. Nothing too
noteworthy that I noticed, but I see my first MONARCH of the year near the
photo blind and a few Calico Pennants with the more abundant odonates
around the refuge.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
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