Note: We are especially grateful to Paul Lewis of the Bedford Audubon Society for leading our walk, and to the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation for helping us make this a very special event. Many thanks also to Monica and Joel Smith, parents of a club member, for making all the arrangements for a wonderful meeting place along with food and beverages.
Northern Shrike, photo by Michael McBrien
A fresh breeze buffered the clutter of birders clutching their binoculars. Some firmly gripped the handles of their scopes, while others excitedly clung to the handles of their binoculars, intent on observing the Northern Shrike. The bird was most likely a juvenile, clad in a tinted brown plumage simmering from the ripe morning sun. We were in a state of uncontrollable fury; for many, including myself, the shrike was a life bird. However, the sighting of a Northern Shrike in a relatively small reservation in Bedford, Westchester County fueled a certain hope and exhilaration within us. This shrike sparked positive vibes and uninterrupted fervor throughout our kickoff meeting.
We started the New York State Young Birders Club 2013 kickoff meeting on the trails of the one and only Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Although it was 8:00 AM when we started, all of us participated in spotting birds such as Eastern Bluebirds, American Crows, Tree Sparrows, American Robins, a Northern Flicker, Common Grackles, Dark-eyed Juncos, and more. A small detour of members also spotted a Hairy Woodpecker, inching his/her black and white adorned crest around a gnarly oak tree. Having surveyed part of the trail, we headed back to the museum lodge, where we spotted more juncos, Black-Capped Chickadees, White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches feeding on seeds both sprinkled out on the ground or neatly packaged into feeders.
Ward Pound Ridge bird walk, photo by Mary Batcheller
Taking a brief break from the outdoors, we returned to the assembly room, where ornithologist and Cornell student Hope Batcheller gave a fascinating lecture on her past birding experiences. Ms. Batcheller described how she specialized in fledgling birding in Churchill, northern Manitoba, where she worked with a variety of species including the Godwit. Ms. Batcheller's incredible presentation also inspired us to go out and check our surroundings for birds again. This time, we spotted swarms of Black Vultures, and a few Turkey Vultures along with Common Ravens. Furthermore, President Eamon Corbett held a stimulating photo quiz, where members and parents tested their skills of identification. The photo quiz included pictures of a Zone-tailed Hawk, Mexican Jay, Ring-necked Duck, and a Canada Warbler, along with the somewhat daunting spectrogram displaying the calls of differentiating sub-species within the Red Crossbill species.
All in all, our kickoff trip has started the NYSYBC year on a great note! Coupled with the beauty of the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, along with great weather, and passionate members, I'm happy to say that we're looking at an exhilarating new year!
— Michael Ivkov, age 15
List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Nathaniel Hernandez, Michael Ivkov, Michael McBrien & Brendan Murtha
43 Black Vulture