Note: "This was a special NYSYBC field trip led by Joan Collins, a truly amazing trip leader and knowledgeable bird guide. Many thanks from all who attended and enjoyed the wonderful day of birding!" — Eamon Freiburger
Enjoying a fantastic field trip! Photo Carena Pooth
Early Sunday morning, the NYSYBC met at the tollhouse at Whiteface Mountain with Joan Collins, our trip leader and guide for the day. The toll road up to Whiteface Mountain normally opens at 9, but we were allowed to go up earlier for this trip because Joan has special access to the mountain. Everyone was excited, because the target bird on Whiteface Mountain was Bicknell's Thrush, a very rare and local bird that is increasingly endangered by climate change and many other threats.
As the sun started to rise, the caravan went up higher and higher until Joan heard a Bicknell's Thrush singing at the Lake Placid overlook. It stopped singing as soon as we got out, but we also heard several Blackpoll Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, another boreal specialty.
Our next stop was just a little further down the road and this is where some lucky young birders were treated to glimpse of a Bicknell's Thrush on top of a dead snag! Unfortunately it only gave a fleeting glimpse, but there were more to come as we drove higher. We pulled off at another turn higher up, where we all enjoyed the morning sun rising over the Adirondacks. More Bicknell's Thrushes sang around us, and it was a frustrating game to locate them since sometimes they would be calling only about 10 feet away from us but the forest was so thick that they remained hidden. Eventually, every young birder and most of the parents were able to get a glimpse at a thrush. Two Yellow-bellied Flycatchers gave great looks at this turn, and many Blackpoll and Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen as well. We descended back down to a spot where Boreal Chickadees were building their nest, and we were given only a brief look at one of them.
Adult Gray Jay, photo by Eamon Freiburger
Moving on from the mountain around 8:45, we decided to go to Bloomingdale Bog for more boreal specialties. We made several stops along the road that we traveled to reach the bog, and we got great looks at a Black-throated Blue Warbler, two Red-eyed Vireos, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a Mourning Warbler that flew over. We also heard several Northern Waterthrushes, a Cerulean Warbler, Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, and a Common Loon (there must have been a body of water nearby)!
At another spot, we were lucky enough to see a female Black-backed Woodpecker peek out of its nest hole that Joan had staked out for us. Unfortunately, these woodpeckers have a very high nest predation rate, and Red Squirrels are one of the top culprits and were seen in the area. Hopefully this nest will be a success!
Feeding Gray Jays, photo Carena Pooth
At Bloomingdale Bog, we heard three Lincoln's Sparrows and a Palm Warbler, the two special birds that nest in the bog. Another boreal specialty that everyone enjoyed watching (and feeding!) were Gray Jays, which followed us on the trail. Joan brought some raisins and chunks of bread, and if you held it out in your hand and remained still, the Gray Jays would land on you and eat the food. The looks on everyone's faces were priceless when the jays landed on them! It was interesting to also see the juveniles which had just fledged, because they are a very sooty gray and don't look like their parents, which are a much lighter gray and white. Another treat was a female Black-backed woodpecker that flew over us and landed on a dead snag, which everyone got great looks at, and some people also saw the male woodpecker forage out in the bog. The thunder clouds rolled in around this point, and we headed back to our cars to escape the oncoming storms. The rain held off and started only about fifteen minutes after we left.
— Eamon Freiburger, age 16
List of Birds Seen on this Trip
by Adrian Burke
Species Total: 60