Saturday, February 25, 2012

Deja View All Over Sullivan County Again

Thursday Feb 23, 2012

The winter finches in Sullivan County deserved another chance, so with a ~much~ better forecast I made another try. Gary Strauss, Eric Miller and I set off at 7am; Eric was confident that the weather conditions would be far better for us than what I had the week before. Essentially we did a repeat tour of last Thursday’s agenda.

Cooley Bog
We went straight to Cooley road hoping that as had been suggested. The White-winged Crossbills were reported to show better earlier than later in the day. We had only driven a short way up the road when Eric told Gary to stop: “I hear Siskins”. I rolled down the window as Gary stopped, and ~then~ heard the Siskins. Gary and I marveled at Eric’s hearing acuity, and got out to see a large flock of this bird feeding on the cones in the conifers. Found with them were BC Chickadees and a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers.

Pine Siskin
Looking at Crossbills at the Bog
Exhausting the bird sightings at this location we moved on to the bog on Cooley Road. Remnants of snow was everywhere, but it was clear and bright. We happened upon Dave Klauber and Bobby Rossetti, who had seen the Crossbills in the trees around us. Here too, the trees were noisy with the Siskins, but we didn’t have to wait long for some Crossbills. 

Of course, Eric heard them calling, and we spotted them at the tops of the trees in short order. These birds like to pose and cue up, so they are a real delight compared to so many skulkers in the bird world. A few landed here, and a few landed there and we got good looks at both males and females. 

White-winged Crossbill

After some time they massed together and flew off, I estimate as many as 15 birds. Satisfied with our success and our views, we took this as the cue to move on, and we headed for Willowemoc. Hoping to see some Eagles here, we scanned the river view from the road, as well as the hills in the distance that the week before we had no idea were there. No Eagles of either flavor, but we did see a Raven, adding to the one we heard only at the bog. 

Red-breasted Nuthatch
 We continued down Fluggertown Road, and stopped in a number of places where the Siskins were partying. Mixed in with them were good numbers of Red-breasted Nuthatch, and large numbers of Black-capped Chickadees. This was the case in several places and we were astonished to see upwards of a dozen Chickadees in a tree responding to our spishing. 

Black-capped Chickadee

The feeders at the corner of Cooley Mountain Road and Smith Road held the same species as before, but Eric was glad to get to see the Purple Finches. We then surveyed Smith road on our way to lunch, stopping at the same pizza place. 

Purple Finch
The 'Sign'

After lunch we stopped in on the Shrike in Fosterdale, and got nice views of the bird. A local inquired about what we were looking at, and was surprised to hear about the visitor to her neighborhood. You have to love a bird that perches prominently. And we took advantage of this by getting great scope looks and some nice pix.

Northern Shrike

As before the final leg of our journey was to Shawangunk NWR. We perused the copious Canada Geese at Blue Chip Farms, but alas could not turn one into a Cackler. So down the road to Galeville County Park we went, where the Short -eared Owl show was just beginning.

There were a few photographers in the lot when we arrived, and I was told there had been little to no activity until shortly before we arrived. Timing is everything! But weather counts too. With the sun unobstructed by clouds, it was difficult to see part of the fields because it made you look into the sun, something I generally try to avoid. 

Short-eared Owls in Shawangunk NWR

4-4 owls were flying about and perching prominently on the trees out in the distance. The Harriers were also on patrol. And this time, the Rough-legged Hawk was seen much better in the better light conditions. Unfortunately, unlike last week the numbers of both the owls and harriers were much lower; not the “show” they had put on previously. But hey, that’s what makes birding interesting: a different experience each time.

One final cap to the day were Bluebirds way out in the field that Eric {who else} heard calling. We spied one of them cued up in a tree 1000 feet away or so, ...and me and Gary just looked at each other and wondered what it would be like to have hearing like that.

1 comment:

Queensgirl said...

Nice photo of the Red-breasted Nuthatch! We had one that must have been right in front of us, but wouldn't come out for anything. A big tease.

I also wonder what it would be like to have hearing abilites like Eric's. My life list would probably be much much much longer.