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BOS April Count and a Say's Phoebe

Published April 12, 2015
Tags: Life List Happenings, Say's Phoebe, Merlin, Northern Flicker, Cedar Waxwing, Field Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Merganser

 I had the opportunity to bird the lake from Sturgeon Point down to Sunset Bay today for the BOS (Buffalo Ornithological Society) April Count.  Counts are held a few times a year and members of the BOS volunteer to count as many birds as they can find in their assigned sections.

It was wonderful to be out and the weather couldn't have been nicer. I even saw a few first of the year birds, including: a few Field Sparrows, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and Rusty Blackbirds. Northern Flickers must have had a big "moving" day as I saw many, many of them migrating through the area. It was great to hear the friendly chatter of the swallows at many places along the lake too. A fly-by of a few Eastern Meadowlarks was a really nice sighting and kinglets (both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned) were in many spots too.

As I was ready to leave Evangola State Park to begin my last stop at Sunset Bay, I heard about a big rarity for the state of New York, a Say's Phoebe. Joe Mitchell found this flycatcher down in Cattaraugus County on his lunch break from his count. I had a decision to make: take the long drive and try for phoebe or finish up my section and hope there was enough light left in the day to go for it later.  Well... I didn't struggle too long - I went for the Say's Phoebe right then and there!

The area the phoebe was in was quite neat.  A very rough road took me down to a swampy area that was flooded on both sides of the road. When I first arrived, the phoebe was sitting out on a snag and I got a quick view through Joe's scope.  Other birders were there and more came during my stay. We watched and followed this life bird as it changed its perch, caught insects, preened, and - just sat in-between meals. The phoebe was quite striking: it had a pale, yellow breast and a cinnamon undertail that came up to its black tail - very different than our native Eastern Phoebe.

The Say's Phoebe's range is normally in the western part of North America with rare occurrences in the east.  I believe this was only the second record of a Say's Phoebe in Western New York.  What a great find!
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Golden-crowned Kinglet
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First Field Sparrow of the Year
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One of many Northern Flickers on the move
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Red-breasted Mergansers
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Cedar Waxwing
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Merlin
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Say's Phoebe
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Say's Phoebe