Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I had the opportunity this morning to do some Fall birding. The first place that came to mind was the Five- Rivers Environmental Center. So I headed down in the pre-dawn hours to kill some time before work.

  A couple of Cooper's Hawks were hanging out in the visitor center parking lot when I arrived. A couple of crows were scavenging some bread that was left for them and the hawks seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to harass them.

Once the sun started to warm things up, it became apparent that there was a good movement of migrants last night. There were quite a few Palm Warblers feeding on the vegetation that had gone to seed.

  Palm Warblers are one of my favorite Fall visitors.

The low sun angle was providing some great lighting for these birds. 

 A couple of Nashville Warblers were also found this morning.

Lincoln's Sparrows countinue to move through the area.

The small flock of Purple Finches countinues to hang out at 5-Rivers. The usually do during the Fall until they move on to a winter location.

There were a few White-crowned Sparrows mixed in with the gathering of White-throated Sparrows.

White-crowned Sparrow

And here is the bird of the day. As I was working my way through a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Palm Warblers, I heard a chip note that was noticably different. It was about the same volume as the Palm Warblers, but it was much "sharper".

Bright yellow undertail coverts... a busted eyering ....

it even was displaying the diagnostic small white patch at the bend of the wing. What could this drab, active little Warbler be? It's an Orange-crowned Warbler! A nice find for this area during Fall migration.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


So there I was, cruising down the highway in the Town of Rensselaerville when I spotted a flock of geese in a recently harvested corn field. The two Snow Geese that were there had caught my eye so I decided to get out and take a look at them.

Most Snow Geese sightings in our area are made as they fly high overhead during migration. This was a nice opportunity to get a close look at them as they foraged in the field. It had been raining intermittently during the morning and that combined with a low cloud ceiling and fog must have forced the flock to the ground. As soon as I stopped the car the flock started to move back further in the corn stubble and adjacent field.

Sharp looking birds.

After I was done admiring the Snow Geese, I scanned the rest of the flock. Some of the geese had wandered over to the nearby hay field. It was at that point that another goose caught my eye. I was shocked to discover that there was a Cackling Goose among the flock. The size difference was significant when compared to a Canada Goose. The short bill, dark breast and neck collar were all there.

The fact that these birds were on dry land made it even easier to compare the size difference.

I can't tell you how many thousands of Canada Geese I have looked through in previous years looking for one of these birds. A rare find for this area. I began to realize that this flock must have been from up north......way up north!

As I watched the little goose, another very vocal flock of geese flew overhead. The Cackling Goose actually called 5 times in response to the airborne geese. It's voice was very squeaky and high pitched compared to a Canada Goose call. Just as it should be.

I stopped back later in the afternoon and every single goose was gone. There had been some breaks of sun and the flock must have continued it's journey.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I headed down to the Cohoes Flats today to see if the previously reported Willet was still there.

Arriving at dawn, I had the whole place to myself.

I didn't take long to find the Willet. It was out on the dam with a flock of Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

Standing quietly on the wingwall of the dam, I was able to get some great looks at some of the Least Sandpipers feeding.

There were also some Semipalmated Sandpipers mixed in (upper right).

Semipalmated Sandpiper Cohoes Flats Aug. 27, 2011

One of the Semipalmated Sandpipers was hopping around on one leg. It seemed to be feeding O.K., however judging by the plumage, it was having some trouble preening out it's molting feathers. Looked kinda like it had a "5 o'clock shadow" or something.

Hard to say if it was actually injured or born that way.

Oh yeah, back to the Willet. It seemed to be having some traction problems as it tried to go as high up on the dam as the smaller peeps. Sometimes having a higher center of gravity can be a real disadvantage. Sure got that little peeps attention.

A young Bald Eagle flew over and everybody scattered. I thought for sure that the Willet was outta there.

As luck would have it, it circled around and landed right below me. How conveinent.
My shutter finger was busy.

The bird eventually worked it's way back out to the rocks below the dam. By then some coffee clatchers and sleepy-heads were showing up to see it also. Time for me to exit stage left.

The American White Pelican flew in from the west just after dawn as well. This bird has been putting on quite a show the last few weeks, and made quite an entrance this morning as it circled the Flats.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Burnt-Rossman SF and Partridge Run WMA

I headed over to Burnt-Rossman SF first thing in the morning to check on the Red Crossbill nest.

The female was still on the nest and you can actually see her tail hanging out in the above photo.

A little further down the road a few were found gritting in the road.

Incredible how tame these birds can be.

As I was watching the crossbills I happened to notice a large bird approaching from the south.

It was a juvenile Golden Eagle. Heading back up north on today's southerly winds.

As it came closer, the small white ovals at the base of the inner primaries were visible.

You can also see the "serrated" trailing edge of the wing. Another juvenile trait.

Back at Partridge Run WMA, I found a group of River Otters in one of the ponds that the ice was finally starting to go out on.

The fishing looked to be great and they were stuffing themselves with fish.

An adult Bald Eagle flew over as the otters fished below.

River Otters do very well in this area. It's tough to get a good look at them most of the time as they are very wary of people. These shots were fairly distant.

They also took a break to roll in a patch of snow and play around a little bit.

After their break was over, it was back into the water to do some more fishing.

They would occasionally hop back up on the ice and then slide back into the water. This one actually has some vegetation around it's neck. It sure didn't slow it down at all.

A good mammal sighting for today.

I stopped by the Common Raven nest. Sure enough, a couple of the eggs had hatched and now we have nestlings.

And then on to the Northern Goshawk nest. The nest has been under construction the last few days so I figured I'd check on it. The female was busily working on it when I got there. I watched her carefully adding another stick to it and trying to weave it into just the right position. Everything was fine until she realized I was watching her. I got the "evil eye" and I'm probably going to pay for this in the future.