Date: 4/1/18 4:08 pm
From: Dave Nutter <nutter.dave...>
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Phoebes, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Grebes (Horned, Eared, & Pied-billed), Cormorants
None of these birds are new for the basin, but still there seems to have been an influx.

This afternoon I biked to Stewart Park on the Cayuga Waterfront Trail. At the west end of the suspension bridge between the end of Pier Rd and Renwick Wildwood I saw an Eastern Phoebe. I was pleased but not surprised. I think they nest under that end of that bridge. It flew across to Renwick which is also a classic place to find an early Phoebe in the trees along Fall Creek. I continued and saw 2 more Phoebes crossing Fall Creek back and forth between Stewart Park and Jetty Woods. I had to think about whether the 3 sightings could have been 1 bird, but I concluded not. When I left Stewart Park I went back to Renwick and walked the Fall Creek trail from the boardwalk to the railroad bridge. Near the boardwalk I saw six different Phoebes at once in the trees at various heights. I think they were finding small insects on the flowers of the maple trees. Farther upstream near the Fuertes concrete arch, I saw another Phoebe low in the brush beside the trail. I also went out to Jetty Woods and saw a Phoebe low in a pine tree nearby on Newman Golf Course. I figure I saw 10 Eastern Phoebes total, most were not near obvious nest sites, and none were vocal. It sure seemed like a wave of migration.

A Bonaparte’s Gull was first reported by Kevin McGowan on Dryden Lake on 30 March. Today, 1 April, was my first encounter: several were flying low over the mud bar just offshore of Stewart Park and apparently picking minute food items from the water. One rested among the Herring & Ring-billed Gulls on the mud bar, and several rested on the lake. I later walked out to the White Lighthouse where I tallied my maximum: 17, mostly resting on the lake. Only one that I saw was in breeding plumage, 1 was in transition, 1 was an immature, and the rest were winter plumage adults.

While scanning from the White Lighthouse I noticed first one, then several Horned Grebes in breeding plumage to the west of the Red Lighthouse breakwater. I kept scanning while trying to stay in the lee of the White Lighthouse. Mainly from the Red Lighthouse breakwater to beyond the piling cluster I tallied 33 Horned Grebes, only 2 of which were in winter plumage. The rest were in breeding plumage. I also had a crappy look far to the north among the Horned Grebes of 1 similar sized (small) breeding plumage grebe whose neck was black and back was reddish and I think must have been an Eared Grebe. I recommend looking under conditions which are less windy to reduce scope vibration and waves in the way. Also be prepared to bluff your way past 4 pairs of territorial Canada Geese. There were also 2 Pied-billed Grebes much closer to the east of the White Lighthouse. I don’t know whether these were the same birds which I had seen earlier in and near Fall Creek.

The number of Double-crested Cormorants has grown to at least 16 on & near the snag in the lake to the east of the White Lighthouse Jetty.

I also saw my first-of-year Field Sparrow beside Pier Rd with some Juncos & Song Sparrows (many of which have arrived lately) alongside the weedy, leaf-strewn fenceline of the DPW storage area next to the piles of wood chips.

- - Dave Nutter


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