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Flat Joshua Visits Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

Published May 03, 2013
Tags: Parks and Preserves, Least Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Greater Yellowlegs, Pied-billed Grebe

I received a rather unusual request the other day. "Flat Joshua" was sent to me in the mail by my 7 year old grandson. He needed someone to take Flat Josh around and journal his experiences for a first grade project he was working on. So, being glad for the company, I pocketed Flat Josh, hopped in my car - and off we went on a birding adventure to Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in Genesee County!

I was hoping to see a Sandhill Crane and I also really hoped to find some warblers. Flat Josh and I didn't find any cranes, but we did find some warblers.  And in case you didn't know, this is such a wonderful time of year in Western New York.  During May, these small, beautiful birds fly through our area to more northern areas to nest (like Canada, Connecticut, or Maine). And as they pass through, we get to see these colorful "jewels" of the bird world.

At the refuge, Yellow Warblers were very abundant; if we weren't looking at one, we were LISTENING to one! Their songs filled the air with beautiful music everywhere we went.

At one of the marshes in the refuge, Kumpf Marsh, we found Palm, several Yellow, and Yellow-rumped Warblers. We also had some very nice views of a Least Flycatcher - a lifer for me AND for Flat Josh!  I thought it was an Eastern Wood Peewee, but I was later shown the difference (thank you, Willie!). Some of these birds are very close in appearance and you need a trained eye and a lot of patience to study and learn their unique markings and behaviors.

When we were done at the marsh, I got in my car to move on. Wait! Flat Josh wasn't with me! It turns out that Flat Josh had wriggled himself up in my pocket, trying to get a better view of the flycatcher. A little breeze must have blown him clear out of my pocket and onto the ground!  I ran back to find him and ohhhh, I was so happy when I did!  And I was very happy that he was unharmed and OK!

I decided to give Flat Josh a little treat after his fall so I took him to Cayuga Overlook to see the Bald Eagle's nest. He really enjoyed that! There were many, many Great Blue Herons there too and three Great Egrets as well as many shorebirds that were too far out for us to identify. 

As we drove to our next stop, an Osprey was sitting in a tree very close to the road. Flat Josh was excited to see that very large bird of prey so close!  Ospreys catch fish for their food but we didn't get to watch him do that today. I think he was resting.

Later on, at a DEC area, we enjoyed the antics of a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  They were very busy chasing flies AND chasing eachother! At this spot, we also saw a Warbling Vireo, my FOY

By this time, Flat Josh and I were both pretty tired so we sat down and had a little picnic lunch of peanut butter and jelly (his favorite). We recounted the birds we had seen and came up with this list:

American Black Duck
American Crow
American Goldfinch
American Robin
American Wigeon
Bald Eagle
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue Jay
Brown Thrasher
Canada Goose
Chipping Sparrow
Common Grackle
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Kingbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Eastern Phoebe
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Greater Yellowlegs
Hairy Woodpecker
Killdeer
Least Flycatcher
Lesser Yellowlegs
Mallard
Northern Cardinal
Northern Shoveler
Osprey
Palm Warbler
Pied-billed Grebe
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-winged Blackbird
Song Sparrow
Tree Swallow
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Warbling Vireo
Wood Duck

I really enjoyed having the company of Flat Josh on this trip - and I want to thank everyone in Mrs. Zgoda-Martin's, Mrs. Riethmiller's, and Mrs. Warren's first grade classes for letting us take this adventure together!
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Grammy and Flat Joshua at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
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Flat Josh was very happy to learn about the warblers and flycatchers we saw.
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We saw 2 pairs of Wood Ducks up in trees
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American Widgeons
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Least Flycatcher - lifer!
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Least Flycatcher
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Pied-billed Grebe
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Greater Yellowlegs
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Palm Warbler
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Palm Warbler
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Yellow Warbler
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Yellow Warbler
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Flat Josh was just fine when I found him after his fall!
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Warbling Vireo
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Osprey - a bird of prey who eats mainly fish
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On our way out of the refuge, I took a picture of Flat Josh on this sign - can you find him?