Bedford Audubon Society

A Northern Westchester & Eastern Putnam Counties, New York
Chapter of the National Audubon Society

Celebrating 97 Years of Conservation 1913-2010

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2010 Birdathon Report and Diary
A Great Day!

Common YellowthroatYour pledges and donations to our Birdathon fundraiser truly inspire the dedicated, indefatigable birders who revel in finding "one more species" to help support Bedford Audubon's birding conservation and education programs.

This May 22–23, Nannette Orr and Tait Johansson traveled far, wide, and locally for a full 25 4 hours, identifying 146 bird species. How grateful we are for this outstanding effort! We also thank them (especially Nannette) for the lively account of their adventure, shared below.

If your own appetite is whetted to lift binoculars next year, perhaps on a more local scale, you would have a fine time joining our second exemplary Birdathon team, Arthur Green and Adam Zorn, which birded largely in Bedford Audubon's "backyard" and tallied 70 species.

Adam and Arthur launched their quest in late afternoon sun at the Doodletown Road portion of Bear Mountain State Park. They reported that this hotspot provided excellent views of Cerulean and Blue-winged Warblers, among many other birds. "Yard birding" at Adam's residence at Westmoreland Sanctuary rounded out the first evening and delivered an early total of 42 species. The next day’s adventures at Mianus River Gorge, Westmoreland, Byram Lake, Merested, Muscoot Farm, Angle Fly Preserve, and Maple Avenue, Katonah, added an additional 28 species. Highlights included extraordinary views of Indigo Bunting, Yellow-throated Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Common Yellowthroat, Great-crested Flycatcher, and Dark-eyed Junco. Their final Birdathon hour was spent enjoying the aerial acrobatics of Cliff Swallows at Maple Avenue. Don't you wish you were there? Thanks, fellows!

The two groups counted a combined total of 149 species for the Birdathon!
Click to download a list all species seen.

Nannette and Tait’s Great 2010 Birdathon Adventure

We began our Birdathon at at 5:00 p.m. and immediately got a Wood Thrush in the Shawgunks Grasslands area. American Robin, American Crow, Eastern Phoebe, Savannah Sparrow, Common Yellowthroat, and other expected species were tallied before Tait was able to spot three American Kestrels, flying over the distant hills. These fields are being managed for kestrels, as well as for Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark, which were well represented.

Seven or eight colorful parachutists shared the sky with a pair of Common Nighthawks as we headed to nearby Blue Chip Farm. We could not find the Red-headed Woodpecker that was so cooperative in 2009. At 6:35 p.m., our count seemed low as we headed to the Orange County Airport, only to be further disappointedno Upland Sandpipers nor Grasshopper Sparrows, both of which had been present last year. Purple Martin, seen en route to the Bashakill Marsh in Wurtsboro, was species number 50.

With dusk rapidly approaching, we felt we had some serious catching-up to do.

At Bashakill, finding some expected marsh birds like American Bittern, Swamp Sparrow, and Great Blue and Green Herons was reassuring, but other birds were less cooperative. We were still missing Virginia Rail, Sora, and Common Moorhen, all fairly expected here. Tait started his famous owl calling as darkness fell. We "owled" for two hours in various spots where we had luck previous years, but could not find any owl species.

Happily, we ended the night hearing Whip-poor-will. Even with huge heavy construction equipment poised at the edge of the fields, we were content.

A chorus of American Robins and Chipping Sparrows welcomed the morning as we grabbed coffee before 5:00 a.m. Speeding to the Bashakill area, Tait called off birds faster than I could write: Indigo Bunting, Black-capped Chickadee, Black-and-white Warbler, and more. We birded the Bashakill area for an hour or so, gladly counting Least Sandpiper, Pine Warbler, and Cerulean Warbler. We enjoyed seeing a female Hooded Merganser on the roof of a Wood Duck box where she must be nesting. We also saw a few broods of Wood Duck, and heard the Virginia Rail missed last night. Driving along, Tait heard a Brown Creeperat 25 mph, and a Chestnut-sided Warblerat 40 mph!

You realize, almost everything counted so far was primarily thanks to Tait’s ear, so at 6:50 a.m., an actual good view of a Canada Warbler was quite a treat. This sighting was followed by a singing Hermit Thrush, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Prairie Warbler. Our last stop in the Bashakill area, Gunaer Road, gave us Hooded Warbler, Slate-colored Junco, Winter Wren, and Acadian Flycatcher. On the stop before Gunaer we clearly heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker ,and Alder Flycatcher.

By 9:00 a.m., we were headed to Doodletown in Rockland County. Tait heard Worm-eating Warbler from the car, another drive-by identification and had a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Doodletown. Though Tait felt we were running late, he still headed to Mine Road at 10:30 a.m. and luckily we were able to get great views of a Golden-winged Warbler. This bird was singing a Blue-winged Warbler song!

Crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge at 11:20AM, we counted a Great Black-backed Gull for bird number 108. We always have such high expectations, that we agreed this was "low" for us at this stage of the Birdathon route.

Our next stop, Forest Park, Queens is a wonderful migrant trap, and it did not disappoint us this early afternoon. There were memorable views of Blackpoll Warblers, yellow feet shining in the sun. Also flitting around the famous "water hole," a small pool of shallow water in the woods, were Northern Parula, Black-and-white, and Blackburnian Warblers. 

Very few new species were added on the ocean side of Jones Beach, considering the length of the drive in the Sunday traffic, but we heard and saw a number of Horned Larks and masses of Northern Gannets offshore. The Coast Guard Station was more productive. Two Gull-billed Terns here were a real surprise, as was the beautiful, breeding-plumaged Red Knot, with both legs color banded (too far away to get the exact pattern). It would have been nice to see a Peregrine Falcon, or to have spent time searching the ocean for pelagic species, but we needed some time at Jamaica Bay. We felt there were still many holes in our list.

Jamaica Bay highlights in the hour we birded there included Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and great views of a Brown Thrasher. The last species we added, at number 146, was a Lesser Yellowlegs foraging at the edge of the West Pond. 

With fewer migrants than we would have liked, and less than ideal weather conditions, this was an arduous, challenging birding day. Still, tired and smiling, we were proud of our hard-won, "respectable" 146 species.

Thank you for your inspiring, gratifying support!

See the 2009 BAS Birdathon Report and the 2008 BAS Birdathon Report

Photo of Common Yellowthroat Courtesy of and Copyright © Richard L. Becker,
Copyright © 2010 Bedford Audubon Society
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