The HMBC Vischer Ferry field trip this morning was scheduled to maximize fall waterfowl sightings at the Preserve, and a pretty good selection of dabbling ducks had been seen during the previous week. However, this morning it was below freezing and the ponds were mostly frozen solid allowing for only a limited number of ducks and geese concentrated in a very small area. We had 6 birders including a new member who was proudly attending her second HMBC field trip. In the small unfrozen area about a half mile west of the Whipple Bridge we did find 5 Northern Pintails and about 50 Green-winged Teal along with some Canada Geese, Mallards, and American Black Ducks. One species seen by the leader before the field trip began was a Rusty Blackbird near the Whipple Bridge and a Wood Duck. In my opinion, the best bird of the morning was a Marsh Wren which we heard calling in the reeds just past the Whipple Bridge. After first hearing the bird, we then spotted it hiding in a bush. Our lone photographer then began clicking away with her camera after which the bird began to slowly climb to the top of the bush where we eventually got a full view of it. It dawned on us that it most likely was the camera’s repeated clicking resembling the bird’s call notes that prompted the bird to come out of hiding. We also enjoyed watching a Swamp Sparrow show itself in a similar way.
The group then drove a couple miles to a parking spot directly under the Twin Bridges in Halfmoon. We then walked west on the new Halfmoon Connector trail behind Wager’s Pond and into the Preserve from the extreme eastern side. No doubt our group was the first HMBC field trip to bird on this Connector trail. It is a beautiful trail providing great views of the Old Erie Canal, marsh habitat, and the Mohawk River, not to mention the impressive Twin Bridges. Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of birds on this trail this morning but we did spot 2 adult Bald Eagles soaring above and heard a Belted Kingfisher and Fish Crow. Eventually getting back to the main entrance on foot we compiled a very modest list of 29 species but a good time was had by all.
John Hershey, trip coordinator