A few days ago a local birder on his way home from work, noticed 2 odd shapes next to a little patch of water along the north shore of the Mohawk River in Crescent, Saratoga County. The birds were just within the lights of a local Tavern and in this dim light, he could make out that they were 2 Sandhill Cranes!
Sandhill Crane is a bit of a enigma in Region 8, it occurs in the area annually, but its totally random as to where they might show up. In e-bird (where I am the local reviewer), there had been 2 Sandhill Cranes present in western Saratoga County on and off for much of the latter part of 2012. Perhaps the same birds?
The next morning a few birders still found the Cranes at first light and they hung around for about an hour after sunrise before taking off west over I-87 and Twin Bridges. Another birder stopped back at the area around 5pm that night and again found the Cranes in the spot they had been reported next to the tavern.
The next day more birders showed up, but the Cranes took off right after sunrise (and just as I was leaving the house!), but once again the came back late in the afternoon to the same spot.
This morning, I made another attempt after getting the kids on the bus. At 7:30 am I got an e-mail saying the birds were still present, so both Danika and I were hopeful. We finally got to the spot around 8:30 am and found quite a few birders there (The Thursday Morning Group) and sure enough, there were the 2 Cranes in the little patch of water next to the tavern. We enjoyed the Cranes for about 30 minutes, even getting a cruddy, but at least recognizable picture.
After seeing the Cranes, we hopped on the Northway and headed up to Queensbury, Warren County where Pine Grosbeak has spent much of the winter. The original areas I had seen them with Corey Finger back in December were all eaten and it took us sometime of wandering through various housing developments looking for Crab apples Finally, we had a flock of about a dozen birds fly over us in one development (year bird # 2 for the day), not the best looks (especially for Danika who has not seen them in a couple of years), but clearly countable and identifiable.
After getting the Grosbeaks, we headed over to Ft. Edward, Washington County, but it was very quiet. There were a few good looking Rough-Legged Hawks and many, many Red-tailed Hawks, a small flock of about 25 Snow Buntings and a lone American Kestrel (year bird # 3 of the day).
Our last stop was at Wrights Loop in Saratoga County, where I hoped to pick up an Eastern Screech Owl that tends to roost in a Wood Duck box there, but no luck, though although we did find a Northern Flicker, the 4th new year bird of the day.
So the first chase of 2013 was a success, 4 new year birds bringing me up to a nice 58 through the 1st 10 days of January! And getting Sandhill Crane was nice, it was on my “possible” list, so always nice to be able to cross one of those off!