Wednesday, May 9, 2018

May 6/7/8 - Montezuma NWR

On Sunday May 6 Ann and I headed up to Montezuma NWR near Seneca Falls, NY to look for a Western Meadowlark that has been near the refuge for the last three weeks. This would be a New York State bird for me and nowadays adding a new species to my state list is increasingly difficult. I generally figure I am doing well if I can get one new one a year. This one turned out to be one of the easiest (except for the 4.5 hour drive) I have picked up in recent years. As we pulled up to one of the regularly reported locations for the bird on Armitage Road, north of the refuge, I told Ann to pull over so I could look at a bird perched up on a telephone wire. One look and I said to Ann, "I think that is it." The bird promptly sang, clinching the identification! I wasn't able to get a picture before the bird dropped down into the grass. The next day I did get the poor picture below.
Western Meadowlark - 05/07/2018 - Montezuma
I had one interesting observation while watching the bird on May 7. When the bird flew down from the wire into the grass, it landed a few feet from another meadowlark. After less than a minute it took off and flew up the slope to land again in the grass. The second meadowlark flew after it and landed near it. There did not seem to be any antagonistic behavior between the two. And when the second bird flew after the Western Meadowlark, it seemed to have the same, small amount of white in the tail as the Western. I did not see the second bird well enough to identify it as another Western or as an Eastern Meadowlark. The Western has been singing and displaying in this vicinity for about three weeks now. It seems unlikely it could have found another Western as a mate. The two species rarely hybridize, but both those rare occurrences have happened in New York in the past, so who knows?

Ann and I spent Monday, May 7 birding around the Montezuma refuge and vicinity. One of the highlights was a Prothonotary Warbler seen singing and carrying nesting material into a nest box.
Prothonotary Warbler - 05/08/2018 - Montezuma NWR
Prothonotary Warbler exiting nest box - 05/07/2018
We also did a quick run up to the Lake Ontario shore at Sodus Point to look around. On the breakwater we counted 57 Caspian Terns. There were also a number of Long-tailed Ducks out on the lake, many in breeding plumage.

On May 8 we did one last quick drive of the wildlife drive at Montezuma before heading back to NYC. One of the highlights was a Ross's Goose (missed the day before) and ten Redheads, also not seen the day before. A breeding plumaged male Ruff seen by other birders on May 6 was not found. Other birds seen over the three days included Trumpeter Swan, Snow Geese,, and other waterfowl, Sandhill Crane, Common Gallinules and Bald Eagles, and a few species of shorebirds. It was a successful and fun few days.
Common Gallinule - 05/08/2018 - Montezuma NWR
pair of Redhead - 05/08/2018 - Montezuma NWR

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