Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

My birding blog site


  Marsh Survey and Batavia WWTP Birding

Published: October 02, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Nelson's Sparrow, Sandhill Crane, Northern Harrier, Eared Grebe, Swamp Sparrow, Marsh Wren, American Bittern, Pectoral Sandpiper

Today, I assisted Celeste on another marsh survey and, this time, we were very happy to see the family of Sandhill Cranes out at Kumpf Marsh. The crane pair had their 2 colts with them, highlighting this year's successful breeding on the refuge (Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge). It's pretty exciting they've chosen the refuge to nest at!  What heavy fog there was during our early morning checks, so the photos aren't the best, but I think good enough to post.

After we left the cranes, we went into a restricted area of the refuge where an American Bittern flew overhead, giving us a surreal view in the heavy fog.  I'm sure I will always be "wow-ed" by a bittern sighting!  After that, we enjoyed watching as an inquisitive Marsh Wren performed some acrobatic moves on the reeds for us. Swamp Sparrows flew in and out of view and eventually, a very unusual looking sparrow flew in, a Nelson's Sparrow!  Its gorgeous orangey and gray appearance made it stand out immediately.  This is a pretty rare bird that summers exclusively in freshwater sedge marshes, favoring rushes, dense grass, or sedges. It's a regular migrant through Western New York, but is very secretive. Fortunately, I had my camera with me and was able to capture a few photos of this rare moment and beautiful sparrow.  I've only had opportunity to see one once before - last September in Amherst - so this was a very nice treat!

After the marsh surveys were completed and taking the time to watch a juvenile Northern Harrier hunt over a marsh, we headed to the Batavia Waste Water Treatment Plant (BWWTP) to see what ducks and shorebirds we could find. There was a small group of Pectoral Sandpipers, another group of Greater Yellowlegs (and one Lesser) and a wider variety of ducks than the last time I was there, including: Northern Pintails, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Ruddy, Northern Shovelers, both Blue and Green-winged Teal, and Ring-necked Ducks.  The Eared Grebe is still hanging out there, slowly molting into his non-breeding (or alternate) plumage.  We met Sage there (nice to finally meet her in person!) and heard we missed a Northern Harrier hunting over the area. I also officially met Eric, who works at the plant. A big thanks to the guys who allow us to bird here, by the way!

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Sandhill Crane family in the fog

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Sandhill Crane - this is most likely the adult male

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American Bittern in heavy fog flying over the marsh

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What a cool view in the fog of this American Bittern - I guess they haven't migrated yet!

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Nelson's Sparrow (that's a seed hull on his cheek)

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Nelson's Sparrow

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Nelson's Sparrow

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Nelson's Sparrow

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A very inquisitive Marsh Wren

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Marsh Wren

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Juvenile Northern Harrier hunting over a marsh

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Juvenile Northern Harrier

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One of seven Pectoral Sandpipers found at BWWTP

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Three of seven Pectoral Sandpipers we found at BWWTP

Reply from: helen on 10/3/2014 9:40 AM
 I have never seen sand hill crane before. They look amazing creatures. very nice photos - thank you for showing these!
Reply from: tim on 10/3/2014 8:52 PM
 Great job Sue ! The Nelsons looks great along with your warblers in the last post.What lens r u shooting with nowadays?
Reply from: Sue on 10/5/2014 6:36 AM
 Thanks very much, Tim - they were very cooperative!


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