Photo courtesy of askthebirds.org
Before today, I had only been to Greene County to bird on one previous occasion, to see the Swainson's Hawk found by Rich Guthrie in Oct. 2009. Well, let's just say I'll be making more frequent visits from now on. Colleen and I started out at the IDA Grasslands around 11AM; there was little going on there, so we moved along. We slowly drove up and down Bronck Mill Rd. and along Smith Rd., and there were lots of familiar winter birds to see here. There were eight different cardinals shuttling from a hedgerow to a feeder on Bronck Mill. As we came down Smith there was a female Northern Harrier at the edge of the road.
At the Coxsackie Boat Launch, a Cooper's Hawk was perched in a tree at the parking lot. There were many Canada Geese, Mallards, and a couple of black ducks as well. Got some very close-up, as well as educational, views of the three standard gulls (Ring-billed, Herring, Great Black-backed), in their various plumage sequences.
At Four Mile Point Preserve, there was little to see as two tugs and barges had just gone by, flushing the bluebirds and Hermit Thrush that others had seen just before our arrival. We did watch a Pileated Woodpecker fly across the Hudson, and could hear it's distant calls. The best bird of all was sunning itself in one of the Wood Duck boxes a bit further down the road: an Eastern Screech-Owl (red-morph), a life bird for me (#174) and the highlight of the day. Thanks to Will and Danika Raup for the heads-up on this bird; much appreciated!
On the way back we cruised up Lawrence Rd./River Rd. and had five Northern Harriers in the fields on either side of the road. I saw more harriers today than juncos; go figure. Our last stop was the Grasslands again. At the Save-A-Lot end, we had a Savannah Sparrow flush across the road and perch, facing us, near the new aero-products building. At the Serta end, there were so many harriers, Rough-legged Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks we lost track of them all. Twenty-eight species in three and a half hours, not too bad for a frigid day in January. Thanks to everyone who has reported from that area recently, you made our day very enjoyable.