Trip Reports
Franklin Mountain, Otsego County (near Oneonta) — November 15, 2009
posted 1/13/10

Note: This field trip was sponsored by the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, a NYSYBC Partner Club. Many thanks especially to Andy Mason of DOAS and Franklin Mountain Sanctuary.

Clear here, but not over there, yet - photo by Mary Batcheller
Clear here, but not over there, yet
photo by Mary Batcheller

The mountain looked like a giant fog machine had gone haywire. That's never a good sign for hawkwatching. When we arrived at the hawkwatch station, the fog was still fairly thick, limiting visibility to a few hundred meters. The group was jovial despite this birding setback. The fog gradually cleared as the morning wore on, and with this new visibility, vigilance also increased.

"RAPTOR!" This call sent granola bars flying as everyone jumped to their feet. Moments later, "Oops, it's a crow. Just wishful thinking...." More scanning. Repeat: "RAPTOR!" More wishful thinking. Another crow tallied.

After lunch, several of us walked an adjacent trail loop. A Pileated Woodpecker was busy working the area, providing good looks as it repeatedly flew in front of us. A distant Horned Lark called, announcing its presence as a flyover, though the winged wraith remained unseen. We also encountered a few small mixed passerine flocks, including chickadees, titmice, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and both nuthatches.

Two pairs of binoculars...but still no raptors! - photo by Mary Batcheller
Two pairs of binoculars...but still no raptors!    
photo by Mary Batcheller

Upon returning to the hawkwatch, we were happy to hear we hadn't missed anything of interest. As the skies continued to clear, raptor activity picked up slightly. A couple Red-tailed Hawks patrolled the horizon, our first raptors of the day! A Bald Eagle, probably a local bird, also cruised by in the valley below. Unfortunately, no other raptors showed themselves, so we returned our interest to ground level.

Birding is frequently unpredictable—one of the reasons it's so enjoyable. Even when bird activity is slow, though, nature offers a plethora of other fascinating things to look at. Spiders are one of these. We found several interesting individuals throughout the day which we photographed thoroughly before releasing. A dragonfly and other insects also entertained us until it was time to go.

This was a fun trip despite the lack of raptors. Many thanks to Andy Mason, the official hawk counter, for leading, and to the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society for sponsoring this field trip. Here's to raptor-filled skies next time!

                                       — Hope Batcheller, age 17

             View photo gallery 

List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Hope Batcheller

Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Pileated Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Brown Creeper
European Starling
Dark-eyed Junco
Purple Finch
House Finch
American Goldfinch

Species Total: 21