I stopped out to Chestnut Ridge's Eternal Flame area yesterday to see if I could help my good friend Nathan Johnson track down his lifer Hooded Warbler. The mission turned out to be one of the most excellent birding adventures I've had in a long time. We found our Hooded Warbler within minutes of arriving, and despite the poor lighting for pictures, the bird gave us an excellent show. We also encountered a lovely Hermit Thrush at the same location right near the start of the trail towards the Eternal Flame. With time to kill, we headed down to see if the Louisiana Waterthrush was still in the area. While the Waterthrush was not found anywhere near the normal creek, there were multiple Acadian Flycatchers calling and sallying in the area. The next thing we heard was the familiar scream of a Broad-winged Hawk. We ran down the gully in time to witness two juvenile Broad-winged Hawks calling back and forth to each other and taking small flights from tree to tree. Just awesome! We decided we had just enough time to see the eternal Flame, and headed down from there. We encountered numerous Scarlet Tanagers singing high in the trees, and a few Wood Thrush on the way down to the creek. While hiking up the creek, my phone rang, and the WInter Wren ringtone immediately prompted a nearby Winter Wren to fly in like a bat out of hell and start singing like crazy. It was one of the most beautiful things I've heard because of the natural acoustics of the ravine, and of course, the amazing song of the Winter Wren (that's why it's my ringtone). So just to add awesome-sauce on our meal of pure fantastic, a Louisiana Waterthrush came in out of nowhere and kind of danced around to the song of the Winter Wren. It just started twerking and giving chip notes for no reason other than to let us know we made the right decision to come down to the flame. The flame was lit when we arrived. We enjoyed the scene and ended up climbing the roots up to the ground level from there. What a day! I've included some various shots from Staten Island, Times Beach Nature Preserve, and other such randoms.
Following a few severe thunderstorms, local birder, Gale VerHauge was able to track down 5 American Avocet who put down at Write Park Beach in Dunkirk, New York today. I was lucky enough to head down with my dashing friends, Alec Humann and Joe Fell for some beautiful looks at the weary travelers. While the birds are a total rare bird alert in western New York, they stopped through the same area, and at about the same time last year as well. I would't mind seeing them every year, that's for sure. Lifer!
Spent some time back at the survey site in West Seneca with my friend Tom Kerr a few days ago. Could not re-locate the Red-headed Woodpeckers. The next day was spent at the Charles Burchfield railroad tracks in West Seneca, and the last set of pictures are from Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Spent a little while at Tifft Nature Preserve yesterday. I was fortunate enough to witness a male Blue-gray Gnatcatcher feeding a fledgling while I was there. The fledgling stayed in hard to photograph areas, but I snagged a few good shots of the adult, and it was fun to watch. Another fun spectacle that remains un-photographed was a pair of Barn Swallow feeding their three fledglings on Heritage Boardwalk as well. Tifft is abound with new life, and it's just wonderful to watch it all happen. My main mission was trying to find some interesting Odonates to photograph and identify. Tifft is a great place to do such things. I hope you make it out there soon.
I helped my friend Tom Kerr from the Buffalo Audubon with a survey site on private property in West Seneca yesterday. This fantastic piece of land is located on a river, and also includes some swamp areas surrounded by young woods. It is home to the Red-headed Woodpecker (a species of special concern in NY), which eluded us yesterday, and I feel like it would be a perfect place for the Prothonotary Warbler to take up residence with a few nest boxes in the swamp. Despite not finding the mated pair of Red-headed Woodpecker we had hoped to on that particular day. I could't put my camera down. Most birds were a ways out on the swamp, so I could't document everything I wanted to in the few minutes we were there, but you could easily rack up one of the highest species counts in our area at this location alone, mid-summer. Here are just a few pictures of the things we found. I would normally never post animals so far away, but these are just record shots.