Finger Lakes

Townsend's Solitaire at Sampson State Park, Seneca Lake 2/3/13

Townsend’s Solitaire at Sampson State Park, Seneca Lake 2/3/13

Today, Lance Verderame, Renee Davis, Marge Gorton and I traveled to the Finger Lakes to try for some new year birds. We had a target list and were pleased with our results. We first headed to Hogs Hole on the southern end of Cayuga Lake near Ithaca. We had many ducks here including hundreds of Redheads. Other prevalent species included Greater Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Goldeneye, Mallard and Black Duck. Common and Hooded Mergansers and of course Canada Geese. We were unable to locate the reported Eared Grebe at that time. From here we headed north to Sampson State Park on Seneca Lake. We began searching for the TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE near the “green gate”. Initially we didn’t see the bird, so we fanned out. Within minutes we heard Renee calling us that she found the bird, you guessed it, right near the green gate. This was a lifer for Lance. The bird was very cooperative, offering great looks and photo ops. From there, we headed east to Cayuga State Park at the north end of Cayuga Lake. En-route, we spotted a huge flock of Snow Buntings along Yale Farm Road. We stopped to scan the flock and immediately found LAPLAND LONGSPURS! There were nearly 200 Buntings, but we found at least 5 Longspurs among them. The Longspurs kept close contact and we had two or three in our scopes at a time. They were in beautiful plumage, transitioning to breeding colors. As we watched the huge flock, we heard Horned Larks and between 15-20 of these birds flew in. Quite a site overall. We continued to CSP. As we neared the area, we found many ducks and Canada Geese. Among them was a single Snow Goose. Continuing on, we found hundreds of TUNDRA SWANS. The north end of the lake was almost totally frozen and the swans sat on the ice with temps in the low teens. Most were quite far out, with their heads tucked, but smaller groups were closer to the shore. Having found our targets, we headed back to Hogs Hole. We almost immediately ran into a birder who had just been viewing the EARED GREBE. He gave us excellent directions on where to view it from. We found the bird, very far out, but discernible as a grebe. If we hadn’t known it was an Eared Grebe, it would have been a difficult ID. Renee also spotted our FOS Double-crested Cormorants. A great day overall with many new birds for all of us.

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