Trip Reports
Lake Taghkanic — April 25, 2009
posted 5/7/09  

Note: This field trip was sponsored by the Alan Devoe Bird Club, a NYSYBC Partner Club. Many thanks especially to Bill Cook of ADBC, who led a great bird walk for us!

Arriving at the West Taghkanic Diner, our meeting place for the trip, I grabbed my binoculars and scrambled out of the car. The previous evening's Doppler radar had indicated a huge overnight movement of migrants, and I was psyched to find some new arrivals. There was only a small patch of brush behind the restaurant, but I soon heard an Eastern Towhee and the "zeep" flight call of a warbler. This boded very well for the day.

Near the Cooper's Hawk nest, photo by Herb Thompson
In the pines, photo by Herb Thompson

Upon the arrival of the other participants and our leader, Bill Cook, we headed over to Lake Taghkanic: our morning field trip's destination. Lake Taghkanic State Park offers a good variety of habitats, including a brushy marsh, open forest, large pine stands, and an old overgrown field.

We began by walking a trail leading around the marsh. Swamp Sparrows were everywhere, and occasionally a newly-arrived Yellow Warbler would belt out its song before pursuing another across the marsh. A few people saw two Palm Warblers bouncing through the bushes, and others heard an American Bittern "bog-pumping" in the distance. We stopped to listen for the bittern (with no luck), but a Virginia Rail suddenly called very close by. Prowling along the trail, we eventually found the rail skulking through the marsh grasses. It cooperatively sat in the open for a while, calling and preening, until a second rail joined and they both retreated into the brush.

Broad-winged Hawk, photo by Benjamin Van Doren
Broad-winged Hawk
photo by Benjamin Van Doren

As we headed away from the marsh, a female Rusty Blackbird perched ahead of our group, and then flew off. We soon came across a songbird pocket, which yielded Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, and Pine Warblers, and a Blue-headed Vireo. Nearby in a pine stand, a Cooper's Hawk flew around its nest site, calling and once landing on the nest. A Chipping Sparrow gave its best Worm-eating Warbler imitation, forcing us to track it down to confirm its identity. The search was not totally worthless, though, as our only Red-breasted Nuthatch of the trip called near the miscreant sparrow.

Continuing to the overgrown field area, we stopped at a productive knoll to scan for raptors. From this location, we quickly found Broad-winged Hawks, a Northern Harrier, an Osprey, a Cooper's Hawk (likely the same bird with the nest), and Turkey Vultures. The passerine birding was also good in this area, with new birds including Black-and-white Warbler, Field Sparrow, and several Eastern Towhees.

We looped back along the marsh, though did not add much new. Our total for the morning was 53 species, including several recently-arrived migrants. Many thanks go to Bill Cook for introducing us to this great birding location. All told, it was an excellent morning of spring birding!

 — Hope Batcheller, age 17

                         View photo gallery


List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Benjamin Van Doren

Canada Goose     10
Wood Duck     1
Mallard     4
American Bittern     1
Great Blue Heron     3
We found a baby Spotted Turtle on the road. Turkey Vulture     5
Osprey     1
Northern Harrier     1
Cooper's Hawk     2
Broad-winged Hawk     5
Red-tailed Hawk     1
Virginia Rail     2
Mourning Dove     3
Red-bellied Woodpecker     1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker     2
Downy Woodpecker     2
Hairy Woodpecker     1
Northern Flicker     2
Pileated Woodpecker     4
Eastern Phoebe     4
Blue-headed Vireo     5
American Crow     5
Common Raven     1
Tree Swallow     4
Black-capped Chickadee     13
Tufted Titmouse     5
Red-breasted Nuthatch     1
White-breasted Nuthatch     1
Brown Creeper     1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet     7
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher     10
American Robin     15
Nashville Warbler     1
Yellow Warbler     6
Yellow-rumped Warbler     3
Black-throated Green Warbler     1
Pine Warbler     1
Palm Warbler     2
Black-and-white Warbler     1
Eastern Towhee     5
Chipping Sparrow     16
Field Sparrow     2
Song Sparrow     10
Swamp Sparrow     12
White-throated Sparrow     5
Northern Cardinal     4
Red-winged Blackbird     33
Rusty Blackbird     1
Common Grackle     31
Brown-headed Cowbird     4
Purple Finch     3
Pine Siskin     3
American Goldfinch     7

53 Species Total