Trip Reports
Derby Hill on Lake Ontario, Oswego County — April 25, 2010
posted 1/25/11 

Note: This field trip was sponsored by the Onondaga Audubon Society, a NYSYBC Partner Club. Many thanks especially to Gerry Smith, who not only helped us see lots of birds but gave each of us a T-shirt, an OAS pin, and an autographed copy of his recent book, Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. We had a blast!


Derby Hill kiosk
Derby Hill
photo courtesy Onondaga Audubon Society

Derby Hill is located on the eastern end of Lake Ontario. It offers a remarkable variety of birds in a small area.

The weather forecast had been less than inspiring and probably influenced several birders not to make the long trip up to Oswego County. Only three young birders were there, but what a great day it turned out to be! We saw lots of birds, learned about the migratory path along the shore of Lake Ontario, and had a lot of fun.

Our day started out at the hawk watch under cloudy skies. Gerry Smith, our host and guide, gave us a lot of background about the location and what we might expect to see there. Initially the birding was a bit slow, but the numbers picked up by mid-morning as the sun came out and warmed the air.



Scoping Lake Ontario
Scoping Lake Ontario
photo by Carena Pooth



After spending a couple of hours spotting and counting hawks, we decided to get off our duffs and take a walk through the fields and along the edge of the woods. This walk turned up some not-so-common species for this time of year, including an early House Wren and a Rusty Blackbird. The only warbler was a sharp-looking male Yellow-rumped, brightly lit by the sun. Later on, Gerry encouraged us to take the very short walk over to the very large lake, where we found several species of ducks, including many Long-tailed Ducks. Standing atop the bluff overlooking the lake, we also enjoyed many beautiful Caspian Terns that sailed by, at or below eye level, affording us wonderful views of their bright red bills. And then a kettle of about 150 Broad-winged Hawks danced in the sky high above us.




Young Birders at the edge of Lake Ontario
A great day of birding indeed...........
photo by Carena Pooth




Gerry treated us to pizza and sodas for lunch, which we greedily consumed at the picnic tables on the hill. After that, he gave each young birder an autographed copy of his book, Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Many thanks to Gerry for making this a very special day for all of us who were there, and for the books, pins, and T-shirts!

                              — Carena Pooth, Adult Advisor

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List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Hope Batcheller

Canada Goose
Long-tailed Duck
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Species Total: 52