Posts Tagged With: mohawk river

Poem #10

‘High water’


The creek that rises

unheard in the night

The wave churned on storm winds

undercutting the bluff

The rain filling the basement

until all your life is afloat

The leak in the roof spreading

as the ceiling rots, falls

exposing years of neglect


The soul drowning

no dolphin in sight


Categories: postcard poems, scenery | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Today’s wandering

My chauffeur and I got a late start today, and it was nearly 3:00 when we reached Blockhouse Park in Stillwater in search of a male Barrow’s Goldeneye, an infrequent winter visitor. After scanning the water for nearly an hour in a chill wind that made it feel much colder than 30º, we gave up. Of course I checked my email at home to learn the bird had been half a mile upriver… it never occurred to me that the water would be open above the spillway. Oh well!

On the way home we stopped at the Crescent Hydro plant in search of another of my target birds. The Red-breasted Merganser was much more cooperative!



Love that glowing red eye and spiky hairdo.

As it was getting dusky, the resident young peregrine treated us to a low flyover and landed on a pylon to groom. Its feathers looked damp and disheveled. I wonder if it had taken down some prey on wet ice.





Yeah maybe I’ll try for the Barrow’s again tomorrow, what do you think?


Categories: Bird photos, Field trip | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Appreciating the subtleties

After you’ve been birding for a while (she says with a world-weary sigh) you run out of new flashy birds, and at last have to get down to the subtle not to say niggling details. One of the first for many beginners is the difference between Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. These guys (well, ladies and one guy) were very cooperative in showing off relative body and beak size. Not so visible here are the plumage cues. Look closely and you can see Downies have dots, as they say — the outer tail feathers have small spots or bars, while Hairys’ are clear white. Also, Downies descend. Their whinny drops down at the end, while Hairies call on a more constant note.


I have long maintained* there are only four types of Gull — Great Black-backed, Ring-billed, Laughing, and All The Rest aka Herring. Turns out I’m wrong, and given a push I can acutally ID one more! Iceland Gull is a not-too-uncommon visitor in winter.  One of our club members had posted pictures of a few hundred gulls and sort of challenged us to pick out the odd bird. After lots of squinting, enlarging, flipping through books and images, and squinting again, it’s true what they say. The bird did suddenly leap out at me and I wondered how I couldn’t see it before.  Given the rare combination of ice on the Mohawk and mild temperatures, I ventured out. When I saw the gulls so close to shore I whipped out the binocs and really focused.

Can you find it here?

Somewhere in here is a pale-winged gull.

Somewhere in here is a pale-winged gull.

OK, I can’t either. Try these.

Iceland Gull snoozing

Iceland Gull snoozing

And another!

And another!

Dark bill, allover light buffy color, no gray ‘mantle’, and no black on the wingtips. Immie Iceland! In all I saw three Iceland Gulls, got a good feel for relative size (between Herring and Ring-billed) and once again had the importance of pay attention driven home.

The only thing cooler than a new life bird is finding and IDing the bird myself. With the generous help, always, of more experienced birders.

*out of sheer laziness.

Categories: Bird photos, Life bird!, New bird, NYS 2013, What am dat bird? | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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