Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life Bird #101

Saw Life Bird #101 yesterday: Common Redpoll. Tuesdays I only have one class, and since this is week one of Spring Quarter, we got out early--leaving me the rest of the day to bird! I couldn't make up my mind between Braddock Bay (my favorite spot to bird around here, closely followed by Irondequoit Bay) and Hamlin Beach State Park. I decided to definitely check out Hamlin Beach at one point, since eBird had sightings of Common Redpolls there in the past couple of weeks, and I've more or less given up on my chances of seeing Crossbills this Winter. Common Redpolls were another species on my mental list of birds I haven't-seen-yet-but-definitely-could-if-I-just-make-a-small-effort-to-go-find-them. Since Braddock Bay is on the way to Hamlin Beach, I gave in to temptation and stopped by. I've been going to Irondequoit Bay this whole Winter, and was pleased to see large numbers of diving ducks at Braddock Bay--mostly Ring-necked Ducks, scaup, and Redheads, with some Common Goldeneye mixed in. I also saw my first Red-winged Blackbirds of 2009.
I always visit the Marina of Braddock Bay when I go birding there. Now, I don't know if I just never noticed it before or if things have actually changed over the Winter, but the place is a DUMP. I kept thinking to myself, "Funny, it doesn't look like a trash can." [rant alert, consider yourselves warned]

I keep a trash bag in the trunk of my car since a lot of the time when I go birding there will be the ocassional piece of trash in the parking lot or on the trails, and the majority of the places I visit are Carry-In, Carry-Out. I think it's important to do your part, especially if it's a place you frequent--in my mind, once you become a regular visitor to a park, NWR, etc. it becomes your responsibility to look after the place in part. Anyway, the place was a dump. I kept muttering obscenities under my breath as I walked around with my trash bag, picking up beer cans, juice boxes, bottle caps, and a ridiculous number of lottery tickets (Cashwords, specifically. All of them.) Someone must come park their car at the Marina during their lunch break or something, eat their lunch, scratch their cashword, toss it out the window, and drive off. I don't know. Oh, and it was damp and muddy, too, did I mention that? There was even a Bud bottle stuck in a hollowed crevice of a tree.

Now, at one point as I was walking around the trunk of a tree and I discovered [this is a little PG-13] a bright purple vibrator. I just sort of stood there for a moment, nodding and thinking, "Yup. Seems about right given the other stuff around here. I really shouldn't be surprised." No, I didn't pick it up. And as you can imagine, after that I was a lot more careful about what I decided to pick up. If I didn't know what it was, it stayed where it was.

Reminds me of the time I was innocently birding at a park in Rochester and came across a couple having sex in their car. Yeah.....awkward.

That wasn't the rant I was expecting to toss out. I guess I've calmed down since. But let me tell you, I was P.O.ed while I wandered around filling my trashbag. Worst part? I hardly made a dent.

So, after Braddock Bay I continued West on the Ontario Parkway to Hamlin Beach, stopping along the way to get some good shots of Red-tailed Hawks soaring overhead.Upon arriving I noticed a large flock of small birds moving around excitedly, foraging around on the ground. I pulled over to get a closer look, and my suspicions were confirmed.

Then I got my first Brown Creeper of 2009.
If I had to estimate the size of the flock of Redpolls, I'd say around 200? Not sure. I ran into another birder while I was there, he was more experienced and said he saw an unusual number of Hoary Redpolls mixed in with the flock. I decided to stay longer and get more pictures. He let me grab a peek through his scope and tried to describe the location of one of the Hoarys, but I couldn't tell the difference between the Hoarys and the Commons. Oh well. I'm hesitating to check Hoary Redpoll off my list, not because I don't believe the guy, but because I somehow feel like it's cheating if I can't identify it. I'll check it off if I see Hoarys in my pictures, but I haven't studied them closely enough yet.New visitors to my feeders include:
House Finches
Mourning Doves
For the time being, that's all, folks.


  1. Good for you picking up the trash. I will start doing some of that too. I can't believe what you found there!! Parks creep me out sometimes because you do have weirdos there so be careful.

    Congrats on the redpolls. I so wanted to see one this year but have not been successful. FANTASTIC shots of the red tailed hawk!

  2. It's true, you do have to be careful and keep a look out for the weirdos. It's important to be conscious of your surroundings.

    Thanks, I was quite pleased with the photos I got, although I did wind up pulling over to the side of the road right in front of an "Emergency stops only" sign to get them!

  3. One of the redpolls on your second redpoll picture looks like it might, might, maybe, possibly, potentially etc. etc. be a Hoary Redpoll. I can't say anything definite from the picture though. I am talking about the pale bird in the far left background, just before the reeds.
    Do you have any more pictures of the flock?

    Nice blog, by the way, just in case I haven't told you yet...
    Cheers and happy birding