Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ash Drive/Warren Bikeway; also Queensbury

Yesterday I headed back out to two spots Sue showed me this past weekend, and for that, I'm am so grateful. Not only did I found out they were fantastic birding spots, but they are LOCAL! They're both only about 15 minutes from me. I'm psyched, because the surrounding area doesn't seem all that great for birding unless I go in the other direction, and I'm not yet ready to park alongside private farmlands off rural roads with people driving 60 mph. But there's practically nowhere to bird closer to the towns, and getting into the trails at a nearby recreational park is nearly impossible. Weird...

Ash Drive is neat. It's a little road near Glen Lake, and you can pull right off at part of the bike trail that goes through this area. The pull off is right near a bridge covering a massive marshy area, with a nice view of mountains in the distance. It's a very pleasant spot. In the marshy area I saw/heard:

- 8 Red-winged Blackbirds, almost all were M. I also spotted a noisy F feeding her even noisier young that was sitting in some reeds, and it looked like another pair of F & young was up to the same activity.
- 2 American Robins
- 7 American Goldfinches, most of which were in flight above me.
- 3 Common Yellowthroats! One of them flew right into the bush right in front of me. I could have reached out and patted him on the head. He even sang while looking at me. Thanks, Yellowthroat buddy.
- 1 Yellow Warbler - She too came to visit in the same bush at the same time! She wouldn't sing in front of me but after she flew away she gave her variation of "I am so sweet!"
- 5 Grey Catbirds. I was happy to see them, after banding so many last summer I feel like I intimately know them.
- 1 Eastern Kingbird, sitting on a perch over the marsh, preening and posturing like it was king of the marsh. I don't know how they got their common names, but this one really did have that bill in the air, I'm-so-hot posture going on.
- 1 Song Sparrow perched, singing, right in the open and allowed me to stare, so I wrote down every field mark I could get, since sparrows for me are birding on hard mode. Seriously, if you want to see me get upset while birding, point out a sparrow. Sibley's doodle of the Song Sparrow sucks, by the way. I wrote down: brown cap (I couldn't get a view from above), brown eye line, pale supercilium, blackish chest dot, dark brown streaks making necklace, white breast and belly, dark malars, pale bill.

I wandered off down the bike path south to Birdsall Rd. There were plenty of cyclists, most of whom kept to themselves, though a few seemed annoyed that I was out there. Strange. Even weirder was the local driving by on Birdsall Rd who glared. Whoa. Anyway, down the bike path, which turns into more of a wooded area, I heard/saw:

- 1 Eastern Wood-Pewee just calling away. I caught a glimpse, and I couldn't believe how drab it was. Good thing they sing a lot, if I saw one without it making noise, I'd be screwed.
- 1 Willow Flycatcher! I didn't see it, but from a distance I started hearing "FITZ-bew!" over and over! It was very quiet and buzzy, but even despite, it carried a long distance.
- 2 Tufted Titmice making hoarse alarm calls I've never heard them make before. They sounded possessed. I got out of there quickly.
- 2 more American Robins
- 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
- 2 Blue Jays who were very curious. It also creeped me out that it sounded like their wings kept slapping the branches of the trees they were flying around in.
- 1 Indigo Bunting - if you read below, you'll see that I struggled with their ID before. Not this time.
- 2 Chipping Sparrows
- 3 Black-capped Chickadees
- 2 American Crows
- 1 Scarlet Tanager - also in the distance, but with that distinct "CHIP-burrrr"

I also went back to the meadow in Queensbury, which I have not actually listed here. I found out that they mowed across the road and were talked to about it. I really have no idea how much danger this meadow is in, but it does have a purposely mowed walkway complete with benches and a sign about leashing your dog, so maybe it's safe. It's a difficult spot to bird in though due to McMansions being nearby - some people get paranoid about someone with binoculars seemingly pointing at their windows.

- 4 M, 2 F Red-winged Blackbirds
- 6 M, 1 F Bobolinks
- 1 American Crow
- 3 Song Sparrows - with the same field markings as above, plus I mentioned the wings being rufous with darker streaks all over them, and the blackish streaks making the necklace are on a white background
- 1 Flycatcher sp.?? totally unidentifiable to my eyes, and it wouldn't sit still. It appeared to have a forked tail, greyish-black head, yellow wingbars, dark body, and yellowish-buffy underparts. Who knows, who cares, since it didn't sit there.
- 8 Eastern Meadowlarks - I got a great sighting of one with it's bright yellow! The rest were hiding in tall grass making ascending "tweee" calls and their other call that resembles the Woodcock.
- 4 Tree Swallows - one was sitting at the nest box, periodically putting it's head in the opening, making me think it was nesting.
- 4 American Goldfinches
- 1 who knows??? - totally unidentifiable, also wouldn't sit still. Medium-sized (smaller than robin but not tiny), dull-grey back and head, buffy/whitish wingbars, mostly white underside, buffy undertail coverts - the call was similar to that of the Song Sparrow.
- 6 House Sparrows - they were just outside the meadow.
- 4 apparent Savannah Sparrows - they're new for me. The call fits. So does the habitat. They were very streaky birds but dull and small, with yellow lores, blackish streaks on crown, and pencil-thin dark brown streaks on face, sides, and breast.

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