Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trip to Binghamton, NY and PA

Birding this year has been insane. In a fantastic way. I started in March (I really need snowshoes, being indoors all winter drives me nuts) and on my first evening of the season, got a woodcock calling and flying right past my head! The excitement and great sightings has yet to slow down, and I doubt it will, as it's only the very beginning of migration.

So now I get to play catch-up with all this rain and cold weather. This has been extra amusing in a ridiculous way for me - Saturday night the driver's side window on my car broke, and I've been without a window to roll up all week. This did not stop me from transporting my old Dell and some magazines out to my best guy buddy on Sunday and Monday, who lives just across the NY border in Friendsville, PA. The drive was horrendous though. One really has no idea the amount of deafening road noise and intensely cold wind surrounding a car on a highway until there's absolutely no way of getting away from it. I probably looked battered and beaten after my three hour drive.

It didn't stop me from birding while out there, although it was bitterly cold to the point of even sleeting on my trip's second day (I spent it at my old college stomping grounds in Oneonta, NY). Saturday was low-key, as I was more focused on my friend and our eating adventures, and despite him not being a birder, he took interest in what was around him, having me point out the different species we were seeing, which I had a blast with. Binghamton and Vestal, NY of course get a lot of crows and starlings.

His lake-side house in Friendsville, PA was quite a different treat. During the day Saturday we walked around a small portion of the lake (I'm guessing it was the east side, at least by map) despite winds blowing at a fairly consistent 40 mph. Not a lot of birds, but the lake offered up three ring-necked ducks (a male and two females). American robins hung around on the road, and a red-winged blackbird called in the distance. When I later left at 2 AM Monday morning, I got to point out to him an American woodcock that was persistently calling down the road from his house. My friend had then mentioned that he's heard that call many nights for years. I must say I'm a bit envious.

Monday birding in Binghamton was terrible, though I also had a hard time finding any birding spots there. I used ebird to find one nearby urban spot, and my guess is it's fairly good for waterfowl on a day when the Susquehanna River isn't rushing, as I only had a few Canada geese.

Monday afternoon I spent in Oneonta, NY and the birding was surprisingly bad there. It's also off-season for Franklin Mtn's hawk watching and so their feeders were also down. I had also visited Emmon's Pond Bog nearby, and while I love the walk, I was bombarded with sleet the entire visit and thus got very few birds, all common. If you ever get to go out there, please visit the bog, even if the weather includes things like hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, or even lava. That bog is something to see, and even though I had not visited it in three years, it had haunted my mind.

Next blog, which I promise will be soon (within the week, I swear), will be about my birding trip on Saturday to Bog Meadow Brook Trail in Saratoga Springs, NY with Rich Speidel and a bunch of fellow birders. Good times were seriously had by almost all (except that one guy that complained about the cold the whole time).

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