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.