June 03, 2010

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks

Unfortunately, the trips I had planned to Fort Drum and the Adirondacks didn't end up working out so I wasn't able to add significant numbers to my month-of-May list after I got back from Long Island. I have had several good birds over the past week though. On May 28 I headed out to the Montezuma area, particularly looking for late songbird migrants on Howland Island. No luck with any of my target birds, but the 10+ singing Cerulean Warblers were a real treat. Before heading home I met Jay and Perri McGowan at the Visitor's Center and we had our bird of the day: a breeding male RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (my fifth phalarope of the month)! I can't remember if I've seen this plumage somewhere else; certainly my first for New York. We watched the bird for twenty minutes or so before it flew off. I was very happy with this find but my best bird of the month came on May 31, which also happened to be Memorial Day. Late in the afternoon I got word that 5 BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS (State, Region and County Bird) had been found in Brewerton, resting on a dock on the south side of the Oneida River just west of Route 81. I raced up there at about 6:00 PM and easily found the birds; first kind of crumby looks from across the river, later beautiful looks from the lawn right next door. Jay and Tom Johnson were there when I arrived. Tom said he'd seen five Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks the previous morning near his folks house in Pennsylvania. They took off and flew north; the same birds? The Brewerton ducks flew off to the north shortly after I left at 7:00 PM and have not been refound. So for the month I ended up with 234, easily passing my goal of 225 but with lots of frustrating misses. Jay got in a couple more trips (Fort Drum and the Adirondacks) and ended with a very impressive 253! I brought my New York State list up to 317 and my North American Life List up to 530.