My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Chirps and Cheeps Bird Blog

A Birder's Blog About Birding in Western New York

August Birding

Published November 01, 2016
Tags: General Observations, Killdeer, American Kestrel, Piping Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Black Vulture, Common Eider, Sanderling, Lesser Yellowlegs, American Bittern, White-breasted Nuthatch, Marsh Wren, Osprey, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, Spruce Grouse

Right on schedule, more shorebirds flowed through the Western New York region during the month of August. A few rarities were included locally.  I came upon an adorable Piping Plover at Woodlawn Beach State Park mid-month.  Apparently, it had been 18 years since a Piping Plover was seen in Erie County, so that was a pretty exciting find.  Many birders came to see that little cutie, who graced us with a two day visit.

Piping Plover populations have been struggling for many years primarily due to habitat loss.  They need white sand beaches for nesting and rearing their young but beach space is becoming harder and harder to find where dune buggies, dogs, and people aren't threatening to trample the fragile little cotton balls and their chicks underfoot.

Conservation efforts have been established at key beach areas in the northeast where they cordon off sections to protect nesting plovers. One such beach, Wasaga Beach in Ontario, is where we found out my little guy had come from. My photos of the bands on his legs were identifiers that John Brett from Ontario was able to use to track down the details from. Thanks to Joe Fell for submitting the sighting to the ONTBIRDS Listserv by which we connected with John.  John informed us the plover was hatched in June and was one of nineteen successfully fledged Piping Plovers that year - the most in their efforts to date!

Just a couple of days before finding the Piping Plover, I noticed a Black Vulture being harassed by a few crows also at Woodlawn Beach.  Although there is a small population of Black Vultures in Lewiston, they are typically rare this far north, especially in Erie County.  That bird hung around at least a week and many birders were able to add it to their county list.

Another great find was a female Common Eider at the Erie Basin Marina.  Jackie Walters found the bird while out kayaking in the area during her work for the DEC.  This bird has been seen off and on since then - even recently as I'm writing this post in the beginning of November.

While birding through Forest Lawn one day towards the end of the month, I found an Olive-sided Flycatcher at the top of the ridge. I was pretty sure of the ID almost immediately, but I sent a photo of it to Alec Humann just to be sure.  Alec confirmed it was an Olive-sided - and, to the delight of many, that bird hung around for almost a week, which is very unusual!  Many were able to add that bird to their life list that week.

At the end of the month, my family and I took a vacation up to the Adirondacks again.  I did a lot of birding up there, probably more than I should have!  But I saw some great boreal birds:  Black-backed Woodpeckers, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and an awesome sighting of an adult male Spruce Grouse!

Photos of some of these sightings are below...
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Killdeer at Woodlawn
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A pair of American Kestrels at Woodlawn
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Green Heron at Tifft
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Record shot of the female Common Eider at the Erie Basin Marina
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American Bittern at Montezuma
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American Bittern
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White-breasted Nuthatch at Tifft
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Osprey at Woodlawn
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Marsh Wren at Tifft
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Red-shouldered Hawk at BWWTP
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Black Vulture at Woodlawn - rare in Erie County
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Semipalmated Sandpiper at Woodlawn
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Piping Plover
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Piping Plover
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Piping Plover
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Piping Plover's legs showing bands
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Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover
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Lesser Yellowlegs
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Sanderling at Woodlawn
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An injured Semipalmated Sandpiper at Woodlawn that stayed for a couple of weeks
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Immature Lesser Black-backed Gull
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Great comparison of an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull (left) standing with a Herring Gull (front middle) and Ring-billed Gulls. Note the size of the LBBG, the smudgy eye, and its yellow legs.
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More Sanderlings at Woodlawn
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Sanderling
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Olive-sided Flycatcher at Forest Lawn
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Boreal Chickadee - Adirondack Mountains
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Black-backed Woodpecker - Adirondack Mountains
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Gray Jay - Adirondack Mountains
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Spruce Grouse - Adirondack Mountains
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Spruce Grouse - Adirondack Mountains


July Birding

Published October 31, 2016
Tags: General Observations, White Ibis, Barn Swallow, Short-billed Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper, Indigo Bunting, Gray Catbird, Acadian Flycatcher, Purple Finch, Killdeer, Green Heron, Marsh Wren, Cedar Waxwing, Black-crowned Night Heron, Common Yellowthroat, Merlin, Northern Flicker

July brought a great rarity to the Western New York area.  Matt Nusstein found a White Ibis at Evangola State Park!  This large, white, wading bird was foraging in a small pond when I first laid eyes on him.  That massive, pink bill was incredible to see!  He (or she) was loosely hanging out with some Canada Geese, totally unaware and uncaring of the stir it was causing.  People from all over raced to see this bird, who only stayed but a few hours.  It was later seen further north along the Niagara River, giving a brief view to just a couple of lucky birders.  What a great sighting!

Shorebirds began filtering through the region during the month, giving me some nice looks at a Short-billed Dowitcher and a Stilt Sandpiper.  A short visit with a Northern Goshawk was a nice thrill for the month, along with a surprise face-to-face with a Barred Owl.  Seeing fledgling Acadian Flycatchers for the first time was super nice - the two little guys couldn't have been cuter! This was a life bird experience for friend, Shelley Seidman - I think we got Shelley 3 life birds that day!

I spent much of the month collecting photos of birds for a book project myself and three colleagues are working on.  Visit our website at: www.10x10species.com for more about that project!

Some of the July birds I caught on camera are shown below...
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White Ibis
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White Ibis
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Barred Owl
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Barred Owl
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Young Barn Swallow
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Newly fledged Acadian Flycatcher
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Least Sandpiper
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Purple Finch
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Indigo Bunting
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Gray Catbird
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Short-billed Dowitcher
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Young Killdeer
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Common Yellowthroat - male
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Common Yellowthroat - female feeding young
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Marsh Wren
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Cedar Waxwing
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Black-crowned Night Heron
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Northern Flicker
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Merlin
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A Merlin and American Kestrel tift at Tifft


June Birding

Published October 29, 2016
Tags: General Observations, Sedge Wren, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Brown Thrasher, Prairie Warbler, Black Vulture, Bobolink, American Kestrel, American Redstart, Northern Mockingbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Tree Swallow, Blue-headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Osprey, Carolina Wren, Northern Waterthrush, Mallard, Hairy Woodpecker

After May migration ends, June brings relief from the frenzy and a much more relaxed birding pace takes over.  This is a nice time of year to leisurely see, study, and visit our local breeders.

It's also a nice time to do some county birding, seeing species in the different counties of NYS that I've never seen before.  I visited several counties across the region, taking my time, and just enjoying seeing what I could see.  One of the advantages of that is you get to see things you might not see if you're busy chasing a bird. On one trip, I got to see the first male Ruffed Grouse down in Wyoming County.  That was cool!

I also took advantage of the slower pace and went birding with a couple of my grandkids.  I love spending time with them out in nature parks, especially six year old, Alex, who seems to really enjoy it! Alex has a million questions and some very unique perspectives!  Right now, his favorite bird is the handsome male American Goldfinch.  He simply states that he loves the way those two colors, yellow and black, look together on that bird.  Well, who can argue with that?!

A Garganey was found by Eric Miller the first week of June, so that was a life bird worth pursuing!  I went with Willie D'Anna and Bernie Kester to Montezuma to see this unique duck.  The duck was not the most cooperative bird and we eventually did get some decent scoped looks at it but photos would have been just too distant and the little guy was tucked in the reeds most of the time.

The very next week, I found myself right back out at Montzeuma looking at a NYS bird found by my good friend, Stacy Robinson.  Stacy was out there looking for the Garganey when she found a Black-necked Stilt!  Wow!  Again, that guy was too far for decent photos, so I won't even post what I did get of that beauty.

Other than the Garganey, the stilt, and a couple of Sedge Wrens, there weren't many - or maybe not even any - other rarities to chase during the month.  June was pretty quiet, relaxed, and very enjoyable.  Here are a few photos from the month below...
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A backlit photo of a Vesper Sparrow
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Brown Thrasher
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Prairie Warbler
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Sedge Wren
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Northern Mockingbird
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Black Vulture
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Green Heron
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Red-winged Blackbird (female)
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American Redstart
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Tree Swallow
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Great Egret
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Great Blue Heron with fish
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Eared Grebe
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Hairy Woodpeckers - mom feeding her young one in our backyard
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Two of my grandkids looking at the baby ducks
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Momma Mallard and her ducklings
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Carolina Wren
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Northern Waterthrush
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Tree Swallow feeding his young
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Osprey
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Savannah Sparrow
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A terrible quality photo of a Warbling Vireo getting fed
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Female Bobolink
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Male Bobolink
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American Kestrel hovering over prey
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Blue-headed Vireo