“Damn it! I’ve had it!” I exclaimed to my wife.
“So, just take the kids.” she replied.
“Listen, I haven’t been birding in nearly 2 months, my blog is nothing more than middle of the night rants about what David Sibley think of Hoary Redpolls. I mean really, who cares? I sure as hell don’t!”
“Just go.” she said and went to sleep.
The alarm went off at 6:30am, if by alarm you mean my youngest daughter Lillian. My wife had to go to work anyway, so she was up and soon all of us was up. I had nothing better to do, so I scooped up the kids, calculated how much money I had on me (it was going to take quite a bit a bribing to keep my oldest daughter well behaved).
Before I knew it both kids were in the car, all my equipment in the passenger seat and after a quick stop through McDonald’s to keep certain people from getting ugly in the back, it wasn’t long before we were at our first stop, Coeymans Landing in Southeastern Albany County.
I pulled into the parking area and rolled down my window. Instantly, 15 Mallards and a handful of Ring-billed Gulls immediately flew next to the car. I was going to snap some photos, but we had left the camera in the car overnight and it was slow to respond and grumpy in the cold. So no pictures. No other good birds either.
Off to our next stop, the Coxsackie Boat Launch, where I was able to add Great-Black-Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Canada Goose and Common Merganser. Try as I might, no interesting Gulls were found.
Did a quick drive through of the Coxsackie Flats and other than a flock of Horned Larks, nothing much to report. A few Red-tailed Hawks (one with snow still on its back from the night before) were around, but all was quiet. A last ditch stop at the Coxsackie Creek Grasslands Preserve had me worried. Arriving, I found nothing moving, but once I started scanning the trees and shrubs with my low powered optics, I suddenly started to find birds!
A jet black dark morph Rough-Legged Hawk sat on a posted sign, several Red-tailed Hawks suddenly revealed themselves and began hunting, several Northern Harriers (including the always popular Gray Ghost) flew by frustrating me with my photographic attempts.
On a bush half way across the field, there was a bird perched. Hmmm… I thought to my self. Could be a Northern Shrike, but that is a bush that often has a Northern Mockingbird hanging out in it. The bush was too far and the light too poor to get a positive ID, but then the bird did the unthinkable and flew closer and the ID (as you will see below) was a cinch.
Okay so not a bad bird. But I had bigger fish to fry. Despite the complaints coming from the backseat I was determined to try and find those elusive winter finches, in particular Pine Grosbeak.
Now I’m sure you are all sick to death of Pine Grosbeak pictures, especially those of you who live in areas where this beautiful bird very rarely if ever visits. I am not and was happy to still find the flock in the same exact location (same tree in fact) as I originally went to see them in November.
This was the best picture I could get of the only male I saw. He was very skittish and did not allow a close approach. One of his lady friends however, allowed me to come quite close and snap a few (OK a LOT) pictures.
As I was finishing here with the Grosbeaks, Corey was calling me telling me about his Greater-White Fronted Goose he had found (which it wasn’t). But I still had one more bird to find and that was the previously reported Townsend’s Solitaire that had been spotted only a couple of days ago near Thompson Lake State Park in Albany County.
After driving across the county at times in treacherous conditions, I arrived at the location (telephone pole # 5 1/2, no joke) but found no birds. I searched about a mile in every direction I could, but I couldn’t find any birds let alone the Solitaire. Oh well I guess.
But more importantly, I’m back in the game and I’m seriously thinking about heading out somewhere tomorrow. So enjoy the pictures, I know they have been lacking on this blog for awhile now and I’m happy to be back!