Lifers indicated in bold
When I went back to Syracuse following the Central Park Barn Owl chase turned wander The Ramble, I felt pretty confident that I would get to 300 by the end of the week. I was wrong. After a falling out I had on a field trip with my school's birding club that I've named "The incident on Derby Hill" later that week, which I came close to 300, but fell one bird short, I was doubting if I would get to 300 by the end of the month. I would be lucky if I could get there by the end of finals. That all changed when I got a notification about a Boreal Owl at the well-named Owl Woods tract of the Braddock Bay Wildlife Area. When Zac Babbit and Kim Badger invited me to look for it with them, I naturally jumped at the chance. The Boreal was a one-day thing like a Wood Sandpiper reported the previous week, but we decided to go anyway. I had checked eBird, and found out there was a Northern Saw-whet Owl at the same spot that day. After a short hike on a muddy trail, we saw the Northern Saw-whet in a cedar abou eye-level. I declared tht was #300 for the year! (according to Bridget Spencer, NSWO was "better than a Bank Swallow")
We continued onward to find a Long-eared Owl, but along the way got to see the release of a banded Sharp-shinned Hawk, two Gartersnakes, and got covered in mud up to our ankles. After a concentrated search, we finally found a Long-eared Owl high up in a tree before it flushed.
After that, we birded at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on the way back to ESF. I got a few more yearbirds, including Bank Swallow, Wilson's Snipe, and Trumpeter Swan. Now that my fears of not reaching 300 had been alleviated, I could try my hardest to focus on school.
To be continued...
I am proud to announce that I finally updated the cover for my blog and website after the old, painfully inaccurate design was lost, and compared to the more comprehensive, but unfortunately poorly made, “Complete birds of North America” poster by Pop Chart Lab that most birders do not like. While it does not contain every species in North America, it is more up to date with its taxonomy (including some proposed splits in this year’s AOS check-list supplement) and has some species not on the ABA Checklist or on Pop Chart’s poster for that matter. The complete species list following the taxonomy of the AOS Check-list of North and Middle American Birds can be found here:
I leave it up to you to figure out the identity of each species 😜. This took over a month to complete, so I hope you enjoy it. All illustrations were traced over photos from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Drexel Academy of Natural Science’s VIREO site, as well as illustrations from Whatbird and The Sibley Guide to Birds.
Lifers indicated in bold* (more on this later)
You might look at this old screenshot and be thinking “oh no! What happened?” My answer is that a couple of things have happened. To start, I've been extremely busy with schoolwork and studying for exams, which cuts down on my birding time as many young birders know the hard way. I also have been sick on and off lately, also cutting into my birding time. On the very few occasions I left Syracuse between chapter 9 and now, they haven't been for birding, although I submitted checklists on both of them. The first one I should note is my ichthyology class's trip to the National Aquarium, where I got a little obsessive with taking pictures, my best pics are attached below
The second trip outside of Syracuse was for Principles of Evolution to a Devonian fossil quarry in Tully and the Museum of the Earth, which (among other cool things) houses the most complete specimen of an American Mastodon found in New York that was recovered from a backyard pond in Hyde Park (if you've seen enough Uhaul trucks on the road, the ones for New York with a mammoth/mastodon are a reference to this find, that's a story for another time). Unfortunately, my phone died, so I don't have any pictures of it, although I cleaned off the fossils I found and took pictures with ID
The Black-tailed Godwit in New Jersey reported minutes after I booked a surprise flight home that I wanted to chase had unfortunately left the spot it was seen at before I had a chance to return, so I needed a backup rarity. I had heard about a reliable spot for Black-headed Gulls in northern New Jersey on eBird, but since the spot was directly under private property, I lost out when my parents suggested going to a park along the waterfront but I wanted to stay in the area (ugh). As you can tell by my reaction, scanning the Bonaparte's Gulls on the beach revealed no Black-headed Gulls, and I was approached by a dog off leash (I do NOT like dogs, just a warning)
When I announced my plans to look for the Barn Owl in Central Park, Ryan Zucker asked what time I would be there. Not suspecting anything, I told him I would be there around 1:30. My mom's original plan was to get the owl, eat lunch at the Boathouse, and then go home, all while trying to avoid running into anyone they knew, but I could tell Ryan had other things in mind. When we got to the park I went ahead to the spot the owl was seen at while my dad tried to find a parking spot. Several birders were at the roost site by the time I got there, including one I recognized. I figured Ryan would want to meet me there! With a little help help from Ryan, I spotted the Barn Owl very high up.
You thought this would be a lifer? Well, not exactly; I first saw a wild Barn Owl on a trip to Australia long before I was a birder, but haven't seen any since then. Additionally, one of the proposals in this year's AOS Check-list Supplement is to split Barn Owl into three species: American, Western, and Eastern. If the proposal passes, I will have added one lifer in this chapter.
Leaving the Barn Owl, we decided to look for the Yellow-throated Warbler in the Ramble and possibly a Louisiana Waterthrush, and ran into my parents, who had run into people they knew as well (my mom wanted to avoid this). I told my parents that Ryan and I were going to look for more birds, and that I would hopefully be back within an hour. The first place we stopped was at the feeders, where interestingly enough, a Chipping Sparrow was perched on a pinecone feeder. When we got to the Yellow-throated Warbler spot, a large group of people was waiting. Several warblers and sparrows hopped around the water's edge, and one of my targets perched on a log across from us: a Louisiana Waterthrush. After an hour of waiting, the Yellow-throated Warbler made an appearance! Moving on, we looked for other county yearbirds. We also discussed a lot of things from birding trips to things happening with our fellow young birders, and I also gave Ryan some advice on the biology SAT II exams. To get back to the Barn Owl spot to get photos, we had to go back through the Yellow-throated spot, where more people were waiting for it to show up, including two of Ryan's friends from high school. Shortly after, my dad called asking where we were, that's when I knew that Ryan and I were going to have to wrap it up after successfully getting three yearbirds and birding for just over two hours and walking a little over two miles. My parents had already eaten lunch by the time we got back to the Boathouse (I wasn't hungry anyway). As we were leaving, Ryan informed me that this was only a sampling of what was to come in May, when I come home from college and can bird whenever I can.
To be continued...
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