The Thursday trip was a scouting run for the scheduled trip Saturday, so I’ll combine them into one entity, much as Thoreau condensed two years, two months and two days into one year on Walden Pond. (I’m feeling grandiose today.)
Normally this time of year postings like this pop up on the local bird list: “In scanning the 2500+ gulls on the ice, a single second-year Thayer’s Gull was immediately evident*.” Not too many of these this year, mostly because the river ice the gulls frequent just didn’t form. Like the eagles at Cohoes, there’s no need to cluster at the edge of open water if it’s all open. So our gull sightings were limited to the usual three — Herring, Great Black-backed, Ring-billed — and not in any number.
We stopped for a look at a little pond next to 787 to check for ducks and had a surprise — an overwintering Belted Kingfisher. I didn’t expect to hear that rattle for another month at least. Along the Hudson, two Bald Eagles hung out near where a nest collapsed in last year’s storms. Perhaps they’ll rebuild.
The Collar City Bridge on Green Island is home to a Peregrine nest box. We stopped in a tiny public parking lot in a apartment complex to scan the cottonwood trees. On Thursday we had a low flyover by a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and Saturday the resident falcons were perched in clear view. The larger bird, probably the female, was facing us at first and she must have just eaten. Her crop looked like she had swallowed a softball. The male was a few trees over.
Even the landfill was disappointing, except for at least a dozen Red-tails. The normal crowds of Gulls were all off somewhere else. It’s been a great winter for economizing on heat and plowing, but birdwise, it’s been really… odd.
Belted Kingfisher, Fish Crow, Red-tailed Hawk, Mallard, Common Merganser, Black Duck, Canada Goose, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Tufted Titmouse, Black-capped Chickadee, Bald Eagle, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Sparrow, House Finch, Mourning Dove, Rock Pigeon, American Crow, Dark-eyed Junco, European Starling, Eastern Bluebird, Blue Jay, American Robin, Common Goldeneye, Peregrine Falcon (pair), Eastern Mockingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Carolina Wren.
*Immediately evident, that is, if you have a scope as powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope, limitless patience, and a really keen eye for microscopic differences in plumage. I have never seen, nor do I expect ever to see, a Thayer’s Gull.My eye is insufficiently refined.