Eleven birders set out around the Tomhannock Reservoir on a perfect late-fall day, with blue sky, crisp air, and barely a ripple on the water. We started at the south end where we had distant looks at Hooded Merganser, Ruddy Ducks, Common Goldeneye, Buffleheads and Wood Ducks. Better views were had at various vantage spots along the way. An interesting non-avian sighting was a (very) dead Fisher on the edge of the road. I think these secretive mustelids are more common than people believe, as often all that's seen is tracks in the snow.
At various stops along the shore we saw or heard Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, YB Sapsucker, Brown Creeper and GC Kinglet. At the Island, several flocks of Common Grackles flew over and a kettle of Turkey Vultures rose up and drifted southward. About 30 lingering Tree Swallows hunted over the water, probably eating the gnats that landed on us.
Given the scarcity of waterfowl, we drove up Croll/Johnsonville/Otter Creek roads east of the reservoir. This is the area where the Golden Eagle hung out for several days in February. A sharp-eyed birder spotted some Ring-necked Pheasants skulking in a cornfield and we stopped to look. Eastern Bluebirds and Red-winged Blackbirds sang from a marsh. We had already seen a half-dozen Bald Eagles of various ages that day so when another large dark bird flew over, it took a while and some lucky photos to realize this one was different. A Golden Eagle - definitely the highlight of the day! It pays to scrutinize every bird!
Our last long stop was at the Otter Creek delta, where Killdeer and three Greater Yellowlegs still foraged in the muck. A little down the road we had a small flock of Wild Turkeys.
We finished up with a respectable (for November) 52 species plus an unknown accipiter - not bad for a day when the target waterfowl were scarce. Thanks to all participants for a great trip. See you next year!