About 20 birders joined me on Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9 for
Cayuga Bird Club field trips to the Cornell Community Gardens, a site
renowned and much beloved among local birders as a hotspot for migrant
sparrows and other field birds in late September and October.
Saturday’s wet weather may have suppressed our turnout a bit, but those who
did attend were dampened only mildly in body and not at all in spirit. And
the birds seemed completely unaffected. We ended up getting several good
sightings of LINCOLN’S SPARROW, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED
SPARROW, CHIPPING SPARROW, SAVANNAH SPARROW, and SONG SPARROW, plus
definitive but somewhat unsatisfying views of a SWAMP SPARROW and a PALM
WARBLER. Throughout the morning, we also saw impressive numbers of other
birds overhead –one flock of more than two dozen KILLDEER over the fields
across the road, maybe 50 CEDAR WAXWINGS, and TURKEY VULTURES circling near
and far all morning. Twice we saw a PILEATED WOODPECKER making dashes here
and there high in the treeline. Maybe the most cooperative birds of the
whole outing were a couple of young or female PURPLE FINCHES perched nearly
shoulder-to-shoulder for a couple of minutes, gobbling little green berries
in the hedgerow at the south end of the site.
Sunday’s field trip began with a distant but exciting view of at least
thirteen WILD TURKEYS in the field across the road, walking and then
trotting away fast with necks extended and weight forward, showing how
surprisingly well built they are for speed.
It was dry but much colder, with a discernible turnover of birds in the
plots with the change in the weather. We saw all of the sparrow species of
the previous day except Swamp, plus at least half a dozen DARK-EYED JUNCOS
and two or three FIELD SPARROWS, the first of those two species I’ve seen
at the gardens in many visits this fall. An EASTERN TOWHEE calling from
the treeline brought our weekend sparrow species total to a tidy 10. Again
the hedgerow offered added interest, this time with both RUBY-CROWNED and
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS offering up fine views. The north winds swept in
some birds throughout the morning too – some migrating BLUE JAYS, a
NORTHERN HARRIER that blazed from far north to far south in about 10
seconds, and another fleeting buteo that I later concluded, with Bob
McGuire’s confirmation, must have been a very late BROAD-WINGED HAWK (I
noted the correct shape and underwing pattern, and Bob saw the tail).
Thanks to all who attended!
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