Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Adventures & Observations

My birding blog site


  Recent Meanderings

Published: March 08, 2015
Tags: General Observations, Iceland Gull, Bald Eagle, Redhead, White-winged Scoter, Surf Scoter, Red-throated Loon, Red-tailed Hawk, Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur, Red-winged Blackbird, Red-shouldered Hawk

In spite of the sub-zero temps and the growing mounds of snow, Western New York still has plenty of opportunity to see some interesting birds. I've enjoyed field birds in Niagara County, waterfowl in Oswego, Onondaga, and Chautauqua Counties, and raptors almost everywhere.

Speaking of raptors, I hear the unusually cold winter has been taking a great toll on raptors. The little Eastern-screech Owls are particularly hurting as it's been difficult for them to find rodents under all the snow. Rehabbers are working extra hours and extra hard these days to try to save the hungry owls, hawks, and the ducks that people are taking to them. As I write this post, however, temperatures are finally on a slow rise and the short-term forecast promises some relief for all of us winter-weary birders and our hungry feathered friends.

The best sighting I saw over the last two weeks was two female Barrow's Goldeneyes. I've seen a male up at Point Breeze a couple of times, but I've never seen a female up until now. They were easier to pick out than I expected. Their head shape is completely different than a Common Goldeneye's, with it being more flat on top but with a steeper forehead. Their bills were entirely a bright yellow-orange too, as opposed to just the tips being yellow'ish on the Commons.  The day Celeste and I saw the Barrow's, we also saw a pair of Trumpeter Swans, which is always a nice sighting.

Another nice sighting was of three Iceland Gulls down at the Dunkirk Harbor. Are all gulls the same? No! Haha! I think many people think they are, but, if you look carefully, there are lots of different types of gulls. The Iceland and Glaucous Gulls are two of the white-winged gulls we get to see in Western New York. Winter is generally a good time for those two species and now I've seen both this winter. Surf Scoters and White-winged Scoters gave close views at Dunkirk Harbor too. And a Red-throated Loon was lazily floating around the harbor, at times drifting close to the pier as well. Unfortunately, during my time there though, it never raised its head. I'm posting a photo of it sleeping anyway!

There have been a few signs of spring: I found a small flock of American Robins enjoying some berries at Sinking Ponds in East Aurora and we had a first year male Red-winged Blackbird stop at our feeders a few days ago. Reports are beginning to come in announcing sightings of Tree and Barn Swallows, American Woodcocks, and Killdeer too. I have visions of warblers in my head and I am most anxious for spring migration to begin.  It's coming!

blog photo
Snow Bunting in Wilson, NY

blog photo
Horned Lark (left) and Lapland Longspur in Wilson

blog photo
Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur

blog photo
Snow Bunting

blog photo
Lesser Black-backed Gull in Phoenix, NY

blog photo
Trumpeter Swans in Phoenix, NY

blog photo
Two female Barrow's Goldeneyes in Phoenix, NY

blog photo
Female Barrow's Goldeneye

blog photo
Hooded Merganser in Phoenix, NY

blog photo
Horned Grebe in Phoenix, NY

blog photo
Red-tailed Hawk - East Aurora, NY

blog photo
A harbinger of spring, a Red-winged Blackbird

blog photo
One of 7 or 8 American Robins feasting on some berries in East Aurora, NY

blog photo
American Robin

blog photo
Iceland Gull at Dunkirk Harbor

blog photo
Iceland Gull

blog photo
Iceland Gull

blog photo
Bald Eagle flyover at Dunkirk Harbor

blog photo
White-winged Scoter at Dunkirk Harbor

blog photo
White-winged Scoter

blog photo
Surf Scoters at Dunkirk Harbor

blog photo
Bufflehead at Dunkirk Harbor

blog photo
The sleeping Red-throated Loon

blog photo
American Coot (with banded leg) at Dunkirk Harbor

Reply from: tim on 3/16/2015 8:50 PM
 Well said post and beautiful photos as usual Sue,bring on the warblers!
Reply from: shelley on 3/11/2015 8:55 AM
 beautiful photos as always Sue and those female Barrow's goldeneyes are gorgeous . i always learn from reading your blog!!


button link to my bird search