Cayuga Lake and Beyond, April 16th 2012

- By John Confer

We had good luck with weather and birds and a very congenial group of 12 people sharing laughs and great views. We went up the east side of the lake, and then went to the auto drive and Tschache Pool at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. We saw lots of waterfowl and three Bald Eagles.

After lunch at the Easy Go (formerly named Nice & Easy), we went to Helmer Marsh and then to the Montezuma Wetland Complex. Observers in my car saw a very pleasing 86 species plus 5 species observed by splinter groups before/after we got together.

We started the trip listening to a Pine Warbler singing at the Cornell Plantations at 7:00 a.m. from the parking lot near the old Dairy Bar. As we headed north, we had great views of an Eastern Meadowlark on the south end of Lake Road. We observed a Horned Lark doing its sky dance and lots of Savannah Sparrows singing along the eastern end of Center Road.

We found a Lesser Scaup near Harris Park, and we saw the pair of Western Grebes from the road/hillside near the park.

At Mud Lock we observed a Greater Scaup on a wooden piling with a broken wing. We watched a pair of Wood Ducks fly and land in the dead elm trees with large cavities near the eagle nest. And we saw a Bald Eagle with two feathered young in the nest.

We had a prolonged, close view at eye level of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher along the raised trail at Helmer Marsh. We also saw 15 Rusty Blackbirds, which sat in trees long enough for us to observe their bright, yellow eyes in the scope! We found a Chipping Sparrow here as well, for a nice total of 8 Emberizidea for the day (if you cheat and count the Fox Sparrow I found when I got home).

Near the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) headquarters on Morgan Road, we heard a Virginia Rail and southwest of DEC headquarters, we heard a Sandhill Crane