Forster’s Terns 9/8/12
This year was considerably different from last year, and of course no two years are the same. We had fewer birds in the county overall and there were some notable misses in the years list of birds. Only 222 species were recorded in the county this year as opposed to 230 last year. First, for the second year in a row, no Tundra Swans were recorded in the county. Also for the first time in several years, no Canvasbacks were recorded. Shore bird numbers were low and there were fewer species recorded than in recent years. Rarities were few and far between and no new birds were added to the overall County List in 2012. That said, the year certainly had its highlights. The Summitville Hawk Watch tallied 6,536 raptors with historical high counts of Bald Eagles, Red-shouldered, Red-tailed and Broad-winged Hawks. We had record or near record flights this fall of Brant and Snow Geese. Warblers were abundant, especially this fall. Of the 36 species on our checklist, 33 species were recorded. For the first time since I have been birding, two Connecticut Warblers were found in the county. First, the long staying bird at the Deli Fields found by Lance Verderame. Lance kept track of this bird, which remained for several weeks, and though difficult to see, it was ultimately seen by a number of birders. It was a new county bird for me, thanks again Lance. A second bird was found by me on McDonald Road, but didn’t remain long enough for anyone to see. A female Blue Grosbeak was found by me in the Deli Fields and remained just long enough for a few good looks before disappearing into the deep grasses of the field. A Eurasian Wigeon at a pond in Wurtsboro also remained only a short time before being flushed by and unsuspecting walker. Fortunately Arelne Borko and I had great views and got several identifiable photos. The last big events were the “Winter Finch Invasions”. They occurred at both ends of the year. January through April hosted huge numbers of Pine Siskins and good numbers of White-winged Crossbills. This fall, Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks and Common Redpolls filled the slot. Each event brought many birders into the county seeking their fill of these beauties. My pick for the bird of the year though goes to three juvenile FORSTER’S TERNS! Found by me at the bridge on Haven Road, these birds couldn’t have chosen a better time to show up. Several large field trips were being held at the Bashakill that day. I found the birds at 9:30 am and was able to alert people from all of the field trips. At least 30 people were able to come to the bridge and see these confiding young birds. I was able to photograph them while standing on the bridge with them. This came about as I was walking the road to get a better vantage as they flew around the kill. As I crossed the bridge, the three of them came in and landed only fifteen feet from me on the railing! The birds remained throughout the day, catching fish just off the bridge and showing off for birders who continued to arrive through the afternoon to see them. The total number of people who got to see them had to near 50! The scarcity of this species in the county combined with their confiding nature and the number of people who got to see them made them an easy choice for the “Bird of the Year”.
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