Note: This field trip was sponsored by the Alan Devoe Bird Club, a NYSYBC partner club. Many thanks especially to Bill Cook of ADBC for leading the trip.
On March 27, 2010 the New York State Young Birders Club (NYSYBC) journeyed to Stockport Flats, a series of freshwater tidal wetlands in Columbia county, south of Albany. Seven young birders and a few adults were accompanied by our leader, Bill Cook, of the Alan Devoe Bird Club.
March is a tough month for birding in the northeast. The majority of winter residents have begun their return to their breeding grounds, but, save for a few early migrants, northbound migration from South and Central America hasn’t yet begun. Today, we were hoping for a bit of both worlds.
It was a chilly day; temperatures were in the mid-twenties as we sped toward our destination, and a high in the low 40s was forecast for the day. After arriving at the end of Station Road in Hudson, NY a bit before 8 am, the first bird many of us saw was a female Rusty Blackbird. This was a welcome sight for many, as this blackbird species has declined by over 90% in some states. Unfortunately, I may have been the only one to miss seeing the bird…
We watched some tidal flats near where the Rusty was seen for many minutes, but it never returned. Common birds such as Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles were abundant, however, and two pairs of Wood Ducks swam along the far shore. We moved on to observe the river. We were right next to train tracks, and trains thundered by our group on a few occasions. Common Mergansers were ever-present on the river, as were American Black Ducks.
Two Bald Eagle nests were also within sight, and we spotted one individual with its back to us, perched in the closest nest. In the next half hour we would see at least three adult eagles, showing that both nests were active. I then spotted a swallow working its way low over the river towards us. As it came closer, it became evident that it was a Tree Swallow. The bird was soon joined by another. And another. These kept multiplying until almost twenty swallows, the first ones of the year for most of us, were hunting insects over the water. Two Northern Harriers flew upriver, one after another, and we speculated that they, along with the swallows, were in the process of migrating north.
A walk down the road, away from the river, revealed some more interesting birds, namely a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and an Eastern Phoebe, one of the first songbird migrants to arrive back in the spring. Before heading off to lunch, we drove to another spot along the river, with shrubs known as a shelter for half-hardies — a Veery was once found on a Christmas Bird Count here. Unfortunately no interesting birds showed themselves to us in the thickets. We did, however, notice three Common Ravens flying overhead. No new duck species were present on the river, so we headed out after a nice morning of birding. Although the diversity of species wasn't as high as one would expect from a walk one month from know, a bird walk with friends to usher in the spring on a sunny day is always nice.
List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Ari Rice
American Black Duck
| Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
| Tree Swallow
American Tree Sparrow
Species Total: 45