Posts Tagged ‘Short-eared Owls’

Depending on your location in New York, upstate and downstate have very different meanings. For those in Albany, the Adirondacks might be upstate while Westchester downstate, though for those on Long Island, Westchester might be upstate (and I guess there’s no downstate). Well, on Sunday, I went “upstate,” if you could even call it that, to the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge, and to a lesser extent, Croton Point Park, with some hawk watchers from Quaker Ridge. The weather was excellent — a high of 45F was predicted for the day, a nice change from previous weeks in the 20s and 30s.

At Croton we hoped to find some waterfowl, eagles, and maybe even some uncommon birds that had been reported hanging around. Strangely, there was next to no waterfowl at the Croton Train Station, usually filled with ducks. All we saw were some Bufflehead and Mute Swans. We were treated to excellent looks at an adult Bald Eagle perched on a stick poking out from the riverbed on the opposite side of the train tracks.

We had better luck once actually in the park. There had been a Red-headed Woodpecker reported nearby one of the parking lots, so we headed there first. After spreading out and combing the area for perhaps 15 minutes, we headed back to the car, disappointed. Just as we were about to pile in, Mike exclaimed that he had the bird! Sure enough, there it was in a tree not 50 feet away. We spent the next several minutes following the Red-headed Woodpecker from tree-to-tree, shutters clicking.

The best shot I got of the Red-headed Woodpecker. It took a bit of patience before it flew out into some good light.

After the woodpecker, we drove up to a lot on top of the capped landfill-turned grassland. We couldn’t find any evidence of owls in the pines surrounding the lot, and we began to walk down the road toward the water. After a minute or two we encountered a small band of passerines. White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-capped Chickadee, all the usuals…but wait — a flash of yellow here…and out emerged an Orange-crowned Warbler! There had been sporadic reports of one from that general area throughout the winter, but this particularly hardy individual hadn’t been seen for at least a month (at least by birders who post to the NYS Listserv). The day was turning out to be pretty good, but the best was still yet to come.



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