Archive for the ‘Bird Watching’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving!

Click here to read about our favorite Thanksgiving bird: What’s A Snood?  A Wattle?  Talking Turkey About Our Favorite Bird

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Ready to get out and go this winter? Here are 10 good reasons to visit the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway along 518 miles of freshwater shoreline in New York and Pennsylvania.
·      Quiet season walking experiences
·      The snow!
·      Spectacular photo opps
·      Winter War of 1812 history
·      Ice fishing
·      Lighthouses lovely in winter
·      To be inspired to quilt the Beauty of the Byways
·      Only-here winter birdwatching
·      Winter Wine Weekends
·      Indoor-outdoor events, shopping and festivals

Find details on 50 festive, fun and fresh reasons to visit the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway this winter, go to www.seawaytrail.com/winter.

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Saratoga P.L.A.N.’s (PLAN) Woodcock Preserve on Tanner Road in Clifton Park NY has seen a flutter of recent activity. Recent improvements include a new informational kiosk, bluebird boxes, and some bollards, used to help deter motorized vehicle usage on the nature trails which were designed for hiking and cross country skiing only.

Joel DiPersio, an Eagle Scout candidate in Troop 6, Jonesville NY, completed the work in the preserve in September, after months of planning and with the help of his troop. While documenting his Eagle Scout project with photographs, Joel discovered that some of his efforts had been vandalized; a set of the recently installed bollards, as well as an additional set installed by other volunteer trail stewards, had been taken out and removed from the site.

Two replacement sets of bollards were installed by volunteers. The replacement bollards have also been tampered with, leaving the volunteer stewards scratching their heads. One of the vandals and his dog were captured on camera removing the structures and the images have been given over to law enforcement officials.

The Woodcock Preserve is open to the public for passive recreation from dusk until dawn year-round. Trail maps and directions are available at http://www.saratogaplan.org. The Preserve is a hardwood wetlands conserved for American Woodcock habitat and passive recreational trails. There is a main trail covering about a 1.3 mile roundtrip from the new kiosk, with two smaller secondary trails designed by Jackie and Christopher Parker, volunteer preserve stewards for Saratoga PLAN. Boy Scout Troop 45 helped clear the red trail. A member of Troop 45 is planning to create an entry sign for the preserve, trailside benches and duck boxes. The Woodcock Preserve can be reached via Route 146 or Route 146A.

Saratoga P.L.A.N. is a not-for-profit land trust offering comprehensive land conservation services to landowners, developers, organizations, and government partners, while striving to achieve regional coordination and cooperation on land use, conservation and recreational trail planning. It has protected over 3,433 acres of farmland, natural habitats, and water resources in Saratoga County. For more information on land conservation, or directions and trail maps for public preserves, contact Saratoga P.L.A.N. at 518-587-5554 or at www.saratogaplan.org.

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Watchable Wildlife is the fastest growing segment for family travel and in New York State, which ranks fifth in the U.S. for number of wildlife-watching participants, it just got even better. The Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) and New York State Parks and Recreations are introducing a new program called Watchable Wildlife.

The website is live now – http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/55423.html and there will also be an accompanying book out in mid-October.

From bald eagles, falcons and Osprey to Monarch Butterflies, coyotes and black bears; New York State offers something different for everyone. New York State has recently gained notoriety for bringing three species back to the state – the moose, Bald Eagle and river otter.

Black bears may be found in all areas of upstate New York and are the second largest mammal in the state (the moose is the largest). They are found in forests mixed with open areas and wetlands. They are also found in farmland and are sometimes attracted to cornfields where they may cause great damage. Black bears are generally shy and elusive. Learn to identify their tracks and look for those in soft ground, such as mud and along streams.

Eastern Coyotes are most numerous at the end of summer and in the fall, after the pups have grown to adult size. Watch an open field in late summer to see a coyote hunting for small mammals. Follow their tracks during the winter-you may catch a glimpse of a coyote in the distance as you track.

Visitors to Long Island can experience ocean life up close through several organizations offering seal and whale watching excursions. Winter Seal watching walks are offered at various locations, including Montauk Point State Park and Jones Beach State Park, along with educational guided tours at Cupsogue Beach by the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI).

In a state known for its abundance of sports and entertainment industry celebrities, it is a star of the feathered kind that grabs the attention of photographers throughout the month of March. Visitors and residents of New York State have the rare opportunity to spot America’s national symbol as more than 150 migratory bald eagles make their way through the Empire State.

New York State offers a combination of open water and colder temperatures to create the perfect atmosphere for these regal creatures. Eagle watching is one of the most affordable activities for New York State winter visitors with a number of guided tours, excursions and educational workshops available through The Eagle Institute, a non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the protection of the bald eagle and other birds of prey.  I LOVE NEW YORK, New York State’s tourism promotion agency, along with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservancy (DEC), not only protecting these VIP guests, but also provide a comprehensive list of optimal eagle-watching locations and www.fws.gov/r5mnwr/mnwr7.html.

25 Great Wildlife Viewing Sites in the Thousand Islands and St. Lawrence Seaway Region of New York State

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By Connie Mertz For The Daily Item, link to original post

One of the most exceptional places to visit, particularly during October, when the trees are ablaze with color, is Sapsucker Woods. Located within a 10-minute drive of Ithaca, N.Y., it is a Mecca for bird enthusiasts. Each year, 55,000 visitors journey to this facility.

Take A Hike – Finger Lakes

Sapsucker Woods is also home to Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology. “The Cornell Lab is a nonprofit, member-supported organization whose mission is to interpret and conserve the earth’s biological diversity through research, education and citizen science focused on birds,” commented Miyoko Chu, Director of Communications.

The sanctuary itself consists of 226 acres including more than four miles of wood-chipped trails plus a 10-acre pond. It is easy walking, family-friendly and, at the height of autumn, it is very scenic. Free guided bird walks are offered on weekends during the remaining months of 2009. Participants only need to meet at the entrance of the Imogene Powers Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity. (A trail map and directions can be found in “Take A Hike – Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.”)

“You can hear the drum of a Pileated woodpecker, watch an osprey perched on a tree snag and stroll in a mature forest where the voices of a hundred species of birds animate your walk,” said public outreach associate, Charles Eldermire.

“Sapsucker Woods is a mosaic of wetlands and forest that attracts a diverse assemblage of birds and other animals. As trees die, they are left standing, which creates habitat valuable for cavity-nesting birds like woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches,” Eldermire adds.

This is only a taste of what awaits the traveler. “In the observatory, visitors may relax on one of the many chairs arrayed in front of the 30-foot wall of windows to look out over the pond, watch avian visitors to the Treman Bird Feeding Garden and use spotting scopes set up nearby,” staff writer Pat Leonard said.

Even the bird song heard by observers is live because of outdoor microphones strategically placed.

Visitors browse at the vast array of bird exhibits. One such encased display shows the hummingbirds of the world. “Wildlife artwork adorns the walls. A reconstructed study features bird murals by renown painter Louis Agassiz Fuertes.,” Leonard said.

Founded in 1954, the location of Sapsucker Woods was well known to researchers as well as the general public. “The birds and plants of this hilltop woodlot near the lake seemed to resemble the forests of the Adirondacks much more than other woodlots near Cornell…With the help of donors and local landowners, this regionally-important habitat was formally conserved as the Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary, becoming home to the then ‘fledgling’ Cornell Lab of Ornithology,” Eldermire said.

Today, Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, is a world leader in bird research and conservation. More than 250 scientists, including students and staff, strive to make important discoveries in bird conservation. “In the field and in the laboratory, scientists track and analyze bird diseases,” Chu explained. “Conservation scientists produce land managers’ guides aimed at conserving dwindling populations of scarlet tanagers, wood thrushes and other forest birds,” Leonard noted.

Researchers are also working with organizations and government agencies to learn how the use of wind power is impacting birds and bats. “Researchers sequence DNA from living birds or specimens to discover fascinating information about the relationships among species and their lifestyles,” Leonard continued.

The ongoing research and scientific studies is not limited to professionals either. “More than 100,000 people participate in the Cornell lab’s citizen-science projects. These projects are enjoyable for participants and they help collect widespread information that scientists need to understand the movement, distribution and changes in bird numbers through time,” Chu said.

Another citizen-based project is called Project FeederWatch. This simply asks the public to count birds at their backyard feeders from November to April. “This helps scientists track changes in bird numbers and movements from year to year,” Leonard said. “Since 1987, more than 40,000 people from the United States and Canada have taken part in the project.”

Another popular program is eBird, an online program that participants can not only keep track of their own bird lists, but can access information from others. “eBird takes in an average of one million bird observations per month,” Leonard emphasized.

Another fascinating statistic is that 500,000 visitors a month check out the “All About Birds” Web site.

The research and citizen-based projects are practically endless. And to think, this all started with a little parcel of ground from donors and local landowners more than 50 years ago.

For information on Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology and how you can get involved, visit http://www.birds.cornell.edu/

For the Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 12-15, 2010 www.birdcount.org

To learn about urban birds: www.celebrateurbanbirds.org

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A Visit to Montezuma Audubon Center

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By James Nani, Times Herald-Record, link to original post

A great blue heron stands on one spindly leg, staring through wetlands and brown, windswept cattails before spreading its bluish-gray wings and taking off with slow, deliberate wing beats.

To bird-watching novices, the scene is something you may expect captured by a National Geographic camera crew hiding deep in a bayou, miles away from civilization. Try Goshen instead.

The 61/2 Station Road Wildlife Sanctuary, supported by the Orange County Audubon Society, is not just home to a tiny 62-acre wetland filled with flora and fauna but a place to peacefully enjoy an autumn stroll as leaves slowly change from green to shades of red and gold.

The funny name for the road the sanctuary is on dates to a time when farmers used to leave their milk at the nearby Erie Railroad station on what is now the Heritage Trail. The stop was six-and-a-half miles to the next stop, where milk was transferred to New York City.

In 1981, the local Audubon chapter purchased the land with a $25,000 loan from the National Audubon Society’s Whittell Fund. More than 30 years later, 171 species of birds have been seen there, according to the society. Today, the Heritage Trail borders the sanctuary and also provides a steep contrast. While the Heritage Trail is well maintained and filled with joggers and trimmed foliage, the sanctuary is roughly hewn, with tall reeds and less maintained, meandering paths. The two spots make a good pair, but bring a good pair of boots.

Whether you decide to stroll the Heritage Trail or the sanctuary, a good pair of binoculars should allow you to spot a few birds along the way.

Walking along trails lined with briars and thistles, those exploring the sanctuary might find hosts of sparrows bursting out of an Eastern red cedar and landing in unison on the branch of a weeping willow, among its lance-shaped leaves. Take a seat on a wooden bench and listen to the cooing of fawn-colored mourning doves and the constant low hums and clicks of insects.

Though the sanctuary is small and surrounded by the bustling Route 17M in the distance, it serves an important ecological function. It’s a recharge site for the surrounding water table and a natural reservoir that holds an estimated 112.9 million gallons of water that eventually flows into the Wallkill River aquifer. The sanctuary also absorbs excess storm water that helps in controlling flooding and cleanses the impurities in the water that flows through it.

Whether you’re watching a yellow warbler perch on a white ash in the sanctuary or out for a morning jog on the Heritage Trail, the changing autumn leaves will be a draw for anyone looking to enjoy the region’s spectacular foliage display.

6 1/2 Station Road Wildlife Sanctuary
How to get there: From the Village of Goshen, head northeast on Greenwich Avenue toward North Church Street, turn left onto West Main Street, then take a slight left onto West Main Street Extension. Take the ramp onto New York 17M W/US-6W/Grand Army of the Republic Highway. Turn right onto 61”2 Station Road; the sanctuary is on your right.

Don’t Miss: When you first arrive at the wooden entrance of the sanctuary, lift the wooden panel in front. There’s a book inside where people note the birds they’ve spotted and animals they’ve seen. Also check out the trees that have placards in front of them with facts about each species.

Be Aware: The paths in the sanctuary can be dense, hard to follow and can just sort of … end. Bring a good pair of boots and be aware of the paths. Binoculars are a must, to catch glimpses of all the wildlife.

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