Today (13APR2014) was even more spectacular than I could have hoped for. I was out back of my house this morning waiting for my good friend and mentor, Alec Humann to swing by and pick me up for an official Buffalo Ornithological Society bird survey around the city proper, when I spotted a Wren on my back fence. I had my new dog with me and the Wren was right in front of the rising sun so all it provided me with was a silhouette. I noticed the tail was extremely short and got pretty excited. I have been studying up on Winter Wrens since I know they are migrating through, and I had been searching Forest Lawn Cemetery on the regular for them. Not happy with a shadowy outline, I ran the dog inside and noticed Alec had just pulled up. I told him about the possibility of my Winter Wren and low and behold: we started off our official count with a lifer Winter Wren! My backyard also produced an Iceland Gull flyover, a Brown Creeper, an Eastern Phoebe, and a Brown Thrasher around front. Holy cow! Alec and I had an awesome time covering the Niagara River from Squaw Island all the way to the Mid-river Marina. My highlights were an adult Little Gull, both Bald Eagles on Squaw Island, Savannah Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Barn Swallow, a Northern Harrier migrating along the river, and Peregrine Falcons with bonus Broad-winged Hawks at the Buffalo Central Terminal, while another undisclosed location in the city of Buffalo held additional Peregrines.
Having completed our official count, we decided to do some birding (I know how funny that might sound), and meet up with our friend Kevin Rybczynski and his brand new baby, Larkin at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Boy did we make the right choice! We arrived to well over 10 Fox Sparrow all along "Warbler Ridge" behind the chapel. Even better was the fact that we ran into our other good friend, Sue Barth who runs the excellent blog, Chirps and Cheeps. I just could't get over the plethora of Fox Sparrow though. They were singing like crazy and flying all over the place! I saw them scratching around the lawn, perching in trees, and brighting the air everywhere I looked. We also encountered quite a few Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Dark-eyed Junco, and the local Cooper's Hawk going overhead doing his breeding flight displays. We saw Sue off, and the three of us continued to bird the cemetery. Alec was just mentioning how we should be seeing more raptors migrating over, when he spotted a dark spec in the distance and says, "Oh, here comes one now." The second he lifted his bins to his eyes he screamed at the top of his lungs, "GOLDEN EAGLE!" Ha! Alec ran off to get Sue out of the car for her lifer, and was yelling so loud that people were coming out of the woodwork and looking into the sky as Kevin and I stared on in awe. I had my camera in manual mode, set up for completely different lighting, but I was able to obtain a verification shot of our juvenile Golden Eagle. Sue got her lifer, and we all had the experience of a lifetime. Larkin's first day birding and she gets a Golden Eagle! Just awesome! So, to top off the day, my friend Nathan showed up to do some wildlife photography (sweet, we might have a new birder). I was pointing him to some obliging Golden-crowned Kinglets when I spotted the brightest looking Pine Warbler I have ever seen. It's not a true Neotropical migrant, but it's my first warbler of the year, and that means Spring migration is about to start! Oh man I can't wait! Bring on the Neotropicals!