Sometimes it seems that if I didn't have bad luck....
Trying to get some elusive year birds and a Great Grey Owl was on the agenda. Garouse and Earic and I made plans to go upstate on Thursday 4-4, so I came up with an agenda.
I thought it best that we swing by the Evening Grosbeaks then shoot up to the 'Dacks for the Owl. If successful, we could take a short jog off the highway for Sandhill Crane by Albany.
Earic and Garouse both thought that The Owl was more important, especially since the Owl would be a lifer for Garouse. So I altered the plans a bit and we went up the thruway.
Our first stop was a mere mile off the road but we were waylaid by slow drivers. Despite an early start, we got there an hour or so after anticipated an the cranes must have departed for the day. We did see a nice variety of ducks though.
Back on the road, we made haste up to Tupper Lake. This time the GPS in my supposed 'smart phone' "Lorretta" worked a bit better, but still tends to loose the GPS satellites every so often. How the F*@& do you loose 18 satellites without an obstruction of the sky? The Samsung Galaxy S3 is a top of the line device? I would have to beg to differ. The S4 better have been improved...
Arriving at the location of the previous sightings, we scouted around a bit, and then Earic and I did some walking around while Garouse drove. While Earic scanned down by where the river crosses under the 30-3, I walked around scanning the fields on 30-3 by Dugal Road.
Garouse saw a car down that road and thought it might be another birder, so he drove off to investigate. While he drove on, I investigated more, until he came back to get me - he said he saw the Owl but could reach neither of us on our phones due to poor reception up there. I hopped in, and we went back to the field where Garouse saw his bird. While I scanned, he drove off to get Earic.
I saw no Owl, and started to walk into the fields when they returned. Earic and I walked about some more, but no dice. We eventually headed back out on to Dugal Road and were approached by the home owners across the street. With recent newspaper article in hand, they inquired if we were there looking for the Owl too.
The family continued to relay that they have been seeing it for some time! More interesting, they stated sometimes it would perch behind their house and they had gotten pictures. Unfortunately neither the mom or dad could locate the pictures in their phones or cameras, and with more description we began to question if they would know the difference between a Barred Owl, Great Horned or Great Grey.
For one thing they said the Owl had small tufts... Well we may never know and certainly the possibility exists that they did have the Great Grey in or about their property.
Having exhausted this area, and ourselves, we headed into town where we once again had pizza at Guido's. I didn't even recall that we had been there a shourt time ago on a previous quest.
Heading back for more searching, we passed a couple with North Carolina plates, and who were also looking for this bird. They reported no luck, and that they were ' just passing through'... and I thought to myself man, they must really be lost!
And so we did this for some time, driving slowly from one location to another and spending time there ever so hopefully. We eventually crossed paths with Ellie George and David Keihm, and exchanged info with them. They had not been successful either, but reported a mink at the water crossing.
Ellie greeted us with quite the chuckle, adding you must be the guys from Queens! "Guilty" I said, and sheepishly inquired what they had heard about us to make her laugh so. It was merely that we had traveled so far for this bird. Ah, the perils of being a powerbirder, especially one doing a big year. David I later discovered is quite the artist!
Having little success ,and it being a generally non birdy day, Garouse suggested that we had to try something different. that being that I should drive to see if that improved our luck. It did! At one of the fields I spied a bird way out in the distance and scored a year Northern shrike for Earic and Myself!
We continued cruising up and down the area, but no Owls. We stopped at the river crossing again and Earic spotted the Mink! I jumped out to get a look, and then ran back to get my camera inconveniently still in the car. By the time of my return it was gone.
Earic and I then heard a Pileated Woodpecker call. He said he was not going to count it on his year list if it was heard only, and I asked him what else could it be?
He agreed but a short time thereafter it flew over head and we all got good looks at it making the dilemma moot.
The light eventually faded away, and we started the long trip home. At the river an owl flew over head! I pulled over as fast as possible and we tried valiantly to locate the bird. We could not. What Type of owl was it? Hard to say. I'm certain it was a large owl, but feel it was most probably a Barred.
So after a long day's birding I wined that we should have stuck to my plan and would therefore have gotten the Evening Grosbeaks at least. Garouse began to question his sighting: a distant owl that was flying away and a brief look. But on the bright side we scored two year birds!