Sunday, February 27, 2011

Van Courtlandt Bird Walk Report 2-26-2011...

Some of our VC birders getting a good look at Snow Buntings!
This week (Saturday), our group met 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 as I normally do and found what I was hoping for - Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis)!!  I was thrilled and quickly got our group into a nice spot to observe what was for many, their life Snow Bunting.  We counted 9 birds and I encouraged the group to take their time and soak up the moment. After everyone got very satisfied looks, we made our way onto the trail.  Once again we had to deal with icy conditions and sadly one of our regulars took a nasty fall, hitting the back of his head.  I was very upset about the situation and again impressed upon the Urban Park Ranger in attendance, "Deli", to please get maintenance or whomever to scatter some sand on the areas we have to traverse.  I am thinking for the future that if there are conditions like this on the trails, I am going to cancel the walks until Parks or Nature Conservancy administration address the icy areas.  The safety of the attendees comes first and I will not lead walks where the conditions are horrendous for hiking/walking.

Alex, despite being shook up, toughed it out and continued on the walk and I kept checking on his status to see how he was doing.  Another regular, Jim, really stepped up and was very helpful in guiding Alex on other tricky spots we encountered.  Ranger Deli, also helped out and indicated that she put in a call to have something done about the icy conditions. I am hoping that we no longer have to deal with areas like this in the future.

Snow Buntings at Van Courtlandt Park!
We needed birds to lift our spirits and birds we got as we hit pockets of passerines.  It was noticeable that we had more passerine activity than we had seen in awhile and the sounds of Red-wing Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) permeating the stillness of the park was a sure sign that Spring is well on its way.  At one of our favorite spots, we padded our day list picking up Rusty Blackbirds (Euphagus carolinus), Tree Sparrows (Spizella arborea), Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca), Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) and American Coot (Fulica americana) to name a few.  On our way back to the nature center we walked the parade grounds and again found the Snow Buntings.  We took some time to get additional looks and the photographers in the group had a good time getting photos.  We ended up with a total of 33 species for our walk.  A complete list is provided below.

Brant - Branta bernicla
Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
Wood Duck - Aix sponsa
American Black Duck - Anas rubripes
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
American Coot - Fulica americana
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
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus
Tufted Titmouse - Baeolophus bicolor
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis
Winter Wren - Troglodytes hiemalis
Northern Mockingbird - Mimus polyglottos
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Snow Bunting - Plectrophenax nivalis
American Tree Sparrow - Spizella arborea
Fox Sparrow - Passerella iliaca
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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1 comment:

Birding is Fun! said...

That Snow Bunting has proved to be a real nemesis bird to me. Glad you got to see and photograph them.