Thursday, November 15, 2007

Where are the Bohemian Waxwings?

No Bohemian Waxwings have yet to show up this fall in the Cayuga Lake Basin. This is because Northern New York Birds is greedy and won't give any up. See the following post from NNYB (bold emphasis added):

Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007
This has been quite a month for Bohemian Waxwings in the area, to say the least. It's almost more unusual to spend time outside in Essex/Clinton Counties and NOT see/hear some than it is to see them, or so it feels lately. I saw a flock of 19 this morning outside my house while I was splitting firewood. I saw a flock of 50+ behind the school bus garage in Keeseville last week. Likewise at the school bus garage in AuSable Forks last week. Yesterday morning, whilst I was gassing up at the Stewart's in Keene, a flock of 35-40 Bohemians swirled in to feed on an ornamental shrub right by the gas pump (as a female PINE GROSBEAK called from the top of a nearby tree!). I saw a flock of about 50 along Christian Road in Whallonsburg yesterday. And as Mike Peterson mentioned in his report from Essex, there was that glorious flock of ~100 flying all about as we watched from the village sidewalk.

However, the season's biggest gathering of Bohemians (that I have had the priviledge to experience) was the massive, evolving flock of well over 1,000 (a thousand) birds that saturated just about every tree, shrub and puddle of water along the first 1/10 mile of roadway at AuSable Point Park yesterday afternoon. From the area just past the bridge to the viewing platform on the marsh there were Bohemians everywhere(and at least a couple of Cedars). Looking out at the trees well into the marsh I could see hundreds of Bohemians flycatching amid swarms of midges dancing in the late afternoon light. One smallish tree held over 200 birds packed in tight as they waited their turn to gobble the black fruit of some lakeside shrubs. And more smaller flocks kept coming in to feed the whole time I was there (about 2 hours). Some roadway puddles had rings of over 20 Bohemians drinking along their edges. It was truly staggering and wonderous.

As I was absorbing all of this a duck hunter/birder/guide stopped to chat and spent an hour sharing the amazing event. He had been paddling his kayak around the delta of the AuSable River on the other side of the park and had observed "just as many" Bohemians over there as we were presently observing. After the birds became comfortable with our presence they flew and perched within an arms' length from where we stood and gawked, all the while being bathed in the celestially exquisite late afternoon light of November. Who knows how many individual Bohemians were actually within the confines of the park, or are in the Adirondack Park these days?

A humorous sidenote to the Bohemian Festival at AuSable Point yesterday was the appearance of a 1.hungry, 2. baffled, 3. overwhelmed SHARP SHINNED HAWK that perched for about 15 minutes and seemed to be just trying to take in the immensity and density of the flock of Bohemians. Perhaps it was just too much of a concept to squeeze into that tiny flew away without so much as a feint at anyone.

For anyone who might come our way to look for their first Bohemians a word of advice: do not disregard any flock of 'starlings' you might see once you're in territory. From a distance a swirling flock of Bohemians, with their pointy wings and chunky bodies, can look and 'feel' similar to a flock of starlings (which most birders have seen plenty of). Take your time and check it out.

Other highlights of yesterday's Westport-to-AuSable Point trip included:
NORTHERN SHRIKE (adult along Mace Chasm Road, Keeseville)
ROUGH LEG HAWK (along Clark Road near Whallonsburg)
PINE GROSBEAK (3-4 in Essex, 1 in Keene)
WHITE WING CROSSBILL (flyover at Noblewood)
FISHER (the mammal...seen at very close range crawling over the rocks
on the shore of Whallon's Bay)
COMMON LOON (half a dozen at AuSable calling frequently)

The ducks were not so hot yesterday anywhere I looked along the Lake. No sea ducks nor even slightly unexpected ducks, let alone any rarities.

Lastly, in this November of northern visitors, an adult male PINE GROSBEAK had a near-death experience involving my front left tire and the pavement of Lake Placid earlier this week. The little dude was nibbling something off of the road surface and was not alarmed in the least by the approach of my auto. Thank goodness I have the reflexes of a jungle cat or that bird would have been as flattened as its dead friend was about 20 yards further along the road. I had to get out of my car and 'shoo' him off the roadway! Reminded me of the time about 10 years ago when my wife and I counted six flattened Red Crossbills just south of Plattsburgh near the golf course. Be careful you wacky seedeaters!

Jay, NY

A message to Northern New York:


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