Saturday, August 8, 2009

Great Egret!

I headed out today, drained and sore (thanks, illness), but still determined to find some birds, woo!! My first stop was the Ora Phelps Preserve off Parkhurst Road in Wilton (or Gansevoort, if that appeases you). I'd never been here before, and heard nothing about it, so did not know what to expect. What I can tell you to expect after my visit today is a small area full of all sorts of ferns, quite a few wildflowers, and for one-half of the preserve, a totally jerk dog who lives adjacent to the left side who does not stop barking. So if you're looking for a birding spot, do not go here. If you're looking for wildflowers and ferns, DO go there! And come back and tell me what the yellow flowers with 5 petals are. :P Also, enjoy the one white baneberry, patridgeberry, some brambles that I snacked from, the pretty red dragonflies, and the 'hidden' spot covered with horsetails (Equisetum).

Birds at Ora Phelps Preserve:
- American Goldfinch (6)
- Blue Jay (2)
- American Crow (1)
- Red-eyed Vireo (3 - one alarm calling)
- Black-capped Chickadee (12)
- Hermit Thrush (3 - heard one, saw two - what a treat, I love these birds!)
- American Robin (2)

I felt rather disappointed with my birding there, and felt bored with my regular spots up in Glens Falls, so since I was already near Saratoga I headed over, blaring punk rock and passing right on by the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and shot down Route 50. I headed right to the Bog Meadow Brook Trail, where it has an entrance off Route 29.

Now, I haven't been here since early spring, before all the wildflowers and shrubs were blooming. I, for whatever reason, even despite reading blogs showing otherwise, still seemed to expect the path to be clear and mostly brown and yellow. Oh how surprised I was! The amount of flowers was unbelievable. I was overwhelmed, being unarmed with a guide in a sea of purple, red, white, and yellow. My list for the day contains many of those that I and probably many others are very familiar with, and I was excited to see joe-pye weed, and if it wasn't for it would have taken me a lot longer to find out the interestingly colored flowers I kept seeing twisted around the honeysuckle, with such a great scent, are called 'groundnut.' I probably sniffed every single one that I saw.

Also interesting was the couple that came across me along the trail. The woman had an American accent, but it took me a moment to realize the guy was Australian. And then he told me that's where he's from, when he was asking about the snake he just saw. I asked, "What did it look like?" Black and yellow. He said he was concerned about poisonous snakes, stating that seeing a snake in Australia was usually cause for alarm. He greatly relaxed and was very pleased to find out it was your typical garter snake, totally harmless and a bit shy. I eventually saw 4 of them myself today.

Birds! Oh, this was exciting. This trail has never let me down, though I miss the Red-winged Blackbirds, which are all gone now. But here is what was there today:

- American Goldfinch (15)
- Cedar Waxwing (19 - I feel this was a low count for the actual number of them - they were loving the honeysuckle berries, sitting right in front of me while gulping them down! A few of them had the orange-tip to the tail, the pigmentation from the honeysuckles the cause)
- Black-capped Chickadee (2)
- Gray Catbird (11 - again, a low count - catbirds hide very well in the honeysuckle)
- Mourning Dove (1)
- Sparrow, sp. unknown (1 - it was quite darkly colored, quick-moving, and thus confusing)
- Song Sparrow (1)
- Yellow Warbler (2 - last pair of the season?)
- Great Blue Heron (1 - it was very upset about something, calling repeatedly, so I looked around it with my binoculars and saw a....)
- GREAT EGRET!!! (1 - it's presence really upset the GBH. It eventually flew away from it, landing a short distance away to go fishing. This gave me a great view of it's black legs and feet, helping give some identification clues. It also had no plumes, had a bright orange/yellow bill, and white feathers otherwise. No plumes gives it a juvenile classification! These birds are rare here, and it is likely migrating through from the north!)
- Green Heron (1 - it flew in while I was watching the other heron and the egret! Amazing.)
- Mallard - (1 female flyover, she was noisy)
- Eastern Kingbird (2 came in to see what the egret was, then flew off again)
- Turkey Vulture (1 flying overhead on my way back to my car)

While I'm likely heading out to Moreau Lake tomorrow, the Egret really made my weekend.

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