Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Van Courtlandt Bird Walk Report 3-12-2011...

Richardson Cackling Goose amongst the flock of Canada Geese.
Last Saturday, our group met for our Van Courtlandt Bird Walk, at our usual spot, the Nature Center across from the parade grounds at Van Courtlandt Park. Before heading out for the Van Courtlandt Lake trail, I scanned the parade ground fields and found a treat amongst the flock of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). A Richardson Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii hutchinsii); it was pretty far out, so I convinced the group that it was worth walking over to the Broadway side of the parade grounds to get a better look.

We all got very good looks and I was especially pleased at finding this bird since it was a lifer for all of the folks in attendance. Memories of my friends Patricia Lindsay and Shai Mitra putting on a clinic in picking out Cackling Geese in Orange County, a week ago still lingered and I was glad to be able to pick out one for my walk. From the Parade grounds we hiked around the lake looking for lingering waterfowl and possibly early migrants. It was slow birding until we reached the golf course where we picked up many of our usual species. We ended our walk with 32 species with our best bird being the Cackling Goose. This makes the 2nd rare Goose we have recorded on this walk, with the other being a Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)that we had last December. A complete list of species from our walk is provided below.

Cackling Goose - Branta hutchinsii
Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Hooded Merganser - Lophodytes cucullatus
Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis
Sharp-shinned Hawk - Accipiter striatus
Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii
American Coot - Fulica americana
Killdeer - Charadrius vociferus
Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis
Herring Gull - Larus argentatus
Rock Pigeon - Columba livia
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis
Carolina Wren - Thryothorus ludovicianus
American Robin - Turdus migratorius
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia
White-throated Sparrow - Zonotrichia albicollis
Dark-eyed Junco - Junco hyemalis
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus
Rusty Blackbird - Euphagus carolinus
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula
Brown-headed Cowbird - Molothrus ater
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus

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