May 21, 2008

Birdathon 2008

Sorry this is late. On May 17 Jay McGowan and I participated in the Onondaga Audubon Society's annual Birdathon. I had done practically no scouting this year and both of us were relatively underprepared and tired. However, the weather was very cooperative and we had an amazing run of birds. We started at Hamlin Marsh at about 12:30 AM and got both Virginia Rail and Sora. Woodcock, Great Horned and Barred Owls were calling near Peter Scott Swamp in the early morning hours. Just after dawn we arrived at Whiskey Hollow where we had ACADIAN FLYCATCHER, warblers and other woodland birds. Great Bear had many (at least seven!) Tennessee Warblers as well as singing Mourning Warbler and a pure GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER. We spent half an hour at the Oswego County Airport looking for Upland Sandpiper and Grasshopper Sparrow without luck. At Sithe, Sunset and Noyse we continued to pick up warblers and other migrants but at Derby Hill we had some of our best luck of the day including great looks at a beautiful male CAPE MAY WARBLER on the bluff, Purple Martins on their box, migrating hawks and eagles overhead, Common Merganser and Long-tailed Ducks on the lake. Black Terns were out in numbers at Pine Grove but Oswego Harbor was pretty much empty in the rain. We picked up a handful of shorebirds during the afternoon, then headed towards Oneida Lake. It was a pleasant evening and we spent a good deal of time scoping distant waterfowl off Phillips Point. The light finally improved for us to make out a single RUDDY DUCK, several BLACK SCOTERS and a Bufflehead in with a small flock of (presumably) Greater Scaup. Probably our best bird of the day was a singing SEDGE WREN in the marsh off McLoud Road. We finished up north of Constantia with Hermit Thrush, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Whip-poor-wills. It was a long and kind of grueling day at times (mostly because of our lack of sleep) but we came up with 145 species; a new team high (our previous best was 136)! We traveled 320 miles and were "in the field" for 21 hours. I also added eighteen new birds to my year list, bringing my total up to 263.