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Birding Mendon Ponds and Grebes at Dunkirk Harbor

Published March 19, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Canvasback, Redhead, American Coot, Carolina Wren, Northern Cardinal, American Tree Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow

A late afternoon hike through Mendon Ponds was just what I needed today. Work has been intense and I was happy to escape for a couple of hours at the end of the day and take advantage of the unusual warmth and sunshine.

One of the trails at the park is quite birdy because people leave seed and suet out for the songbirds. It's very pleasant hearing their sweet sounds and seeing the flurry of activity as winter comes to an end. Hopeful signs of spring were everywhere, including overhead Turkey Vultures in the skies, the sounds of the Red-winged Blackbirds in the background filling-in the void of winter, and today, the wonderful and animated song of the Carolina Wren. Two wrens were along the path and I thoroughly enjoyed their fleeting appearances. I even was able to capture a few photos of them.  A Northern Cardinal gave me a nice photo op too. White-breasted Nuthatches, Down and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, American Tree Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, and the ubiquitous Black-capped Chickadee were actively singing and busily foraging for food all along the trail.

The next day, I made a quick trip down to Dunkirk on a tip I got that an adult male Red-necked Grebe in breeding plumage was found (thank you, Jim!).  There were three of the grebes lazily floating in the harbor. They kept their heads tucked most of the time, but every once in awhile, they'd give me a peek at their beautiful red necks. Nice!

A couple of Horned Grebes were there as well, coming into their breeding plumage too.  The Red-necked Grebes were not very friendly to one of the smaller, Horned Grebes though. The Horned Grebe tried to hang with the bigger grebes, but the 3 amigos would have nothing to do with him, pecking at him any time he got too close.  I felt bad for the little guy!

I captured a few photos of the grebes, some Canvasbacks, Redheads, and American Coots before heading back to my office. It was a chilly but nice couple of hours!
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Northern Cardinal
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American Tree Sparrow
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White-throated Sparrow
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Carolina Wren
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Carolina Wren
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Carolina Wren
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Red-necked Grebe
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Horned Grebe
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Horned Grebe
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Horned Grebe
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Red-necked Grebe giving the Horned Grebe some grief
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American Coot
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Canvasback (female)
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Canvasback (male)
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Redhead (male)
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A pair of Redheads