Past NYSOA Field TripsLast Updated 8/18/16
NYSOA conducts field trips to great birding hotspots around New York State. Watch our home page for announcements. In most cases we offer a workshop on Saturday followed by a field trip on Sunday. Workshops are open to the public. The number of participants for each field trip is limited and individual/family members of NYSOA are given priority. Be sure to register early - most field trips fill up quickly!
Here are some past NYSOA field trip reports and summaries:
Mary Beth Warburton, NYSOA director, wrote this report on the NYSOA Spring Weekend in the Adirondacks held May 16-17, 2015:
Saturday's Bloomingdale Bog trip in May included 15 participants, plus Lewis Lolya, co-leader and former Paul Smiths College student. Highlights of the trip included several participants hand feeding a couple of Gray Jays. Some local birders maintain a feeder along the Bog trail which provides a steady source of treats for the Gray Jays. Several singing Lincoln Sparrows and Nashville Warblers were quite vocal but remained hidden, so the number of species actually seen was low. Lewis suggested a visit to a power line strip just past the Pack Basket Diner in Gabriels, on the south side of Rte. 86. This area was very productive and provided some close up views of Canada and Magnolia Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, and a nice close view of a female Black-backed Woodpecker. A Northern Waterthrush was very vocal and a Ruffed Grouse was spotted dusting itself on the side of the road.
Thanks to Lewis Loyla for helping lead Saturday’s trip and thanks to all who participated.
On Sunday, NYSOA’s Spring Field Trip to Larry Master’s Intervale Lowland Preserve was nicely summed up by NYSOA member and participant John Kent. “It is great that Intervale Lowland Preserve has such a gracious and generous owner. It is incredibly beautiful.”
Larry provided an informative and interesting presentation about the Preserve Saturday afternoon. Some of the highlights are as follows:
Sunday morning was mild and the 22 participants enjoyed walking through the unique property, as well as compiling a list of 62 species. Most participants had decent views of a couple of Mourning Warblers, which had arrived overnight. Eastern Bluebirds, American Kestrels and a House Wren, which was a first for the property, were observed. Unfortunately, the resident Black-backed Woodpecker eluded the group. A complete list of birds from the field trip can be found on eBird at: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S23502982.
Larry and his partner Kass went above and beyond by providing a nice lunch for all of us that included homemade cookies that Kass prepared while we were all still in the field. Kass also shared some of the lupines that grow on the property with anyone who wanted to take a bunch home, which made for a lovely souvenir.
Many thanks to Larry and Kass for a great weekend.Mary Beth Warburton
Seth Ausubel, NYSOA director, wrote this report on the Long Island Fall Birding Weekend held September 27-28, 2014:
I led a field trip this weekend for the New York State Ornithological Association to various Long Island birding spots. Our preliminary species total for the weekend was 114 species. The highlight was undoubtedly a male Golden-winged Warbler seen well by all on Sunday at Alley Park, Queens County. Other highlights follow.
Saturday September 27:
Sunday September 28:
Thanks to all who participated and to my co-leader, Mary Normandia.
Carena Pooth, NYSOA VP & NYS Young Birders Club Adult Chair, and NYS Young Birders Club member Truth Muller wrote
this report on the Bashakill Birders Weekend held March 29-30, 2014.
For weeks, many birders looked forward to the NYSOA Bashakill Birding Weekend. In spite of the somewhat uncooperative weather, it was great! We enjoyed an informative and entertaining presentation Saturday afternoon on Birds of the Bashakill, given by local experts Lance Verderame and John Haas of the Sullivan County Audubon Society. The presentation included beautiful photos of many of the Bashakill's 200 species of birds. We examined the map and learned where the Deli Fields are (across from the Deli, of course).
In the evening we all gathered for a convivial dinner and had a chance to get to know new friends and catch up with old ones. On Sunday morning, we found – to our great surprise and delight – that it was NOT raining, and we all headed over to Haven Road to begin a delightful birding tour at the Bashakill WMA, led by Lance and John.
Truth Muller, a member of NYSOA's New York State Young Birders Club, participated in the field trip on Sunday and sent in his report on the day's happenings (below).
NYSOA thanks all who threw caution to the wind and attended in spite of the inauspicious weather forecast. Most of all, we are very grateful to Lance Verderame and John Haas for giving us their time and sharing their knowledge with us. They scouted in advance, taught us about the Bashakill and its birds, took us to some of the best birding spots, and gave us tips for future visits to this birder's paradise.
A Day of Birding in the Basha Kill
On March 30th the New York State Young Birders Club met up with the New York State Ornithological Association (including NYSOA President Kathy Schneider) for a four and a half hour birding tour around the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area. This NYSOA field trip was led by two of Sullivan County's top birders, John Haas and Lance Verderame. The threatening forecast caused some to cancel, but those who did arrive were in for a treat. The weather held for the duration of the entire trip.
We began at Haven Road, right in the middle of the Basha Kill and several hundred waterfowl. Ring-necked Ducks dove for breakfast, geese honked, Buffleheads bobbed with Common Mergansers, and a handful of stylish Northern Pintails swam about the icy water. The cacophonous squealing of uncountable Red-winged Blackbirds filled the air.
Our next stop was the main boat launch. The water, despite being well frozen, yielded Hooded Merganser and American Black Duck. We then trekked down the Birch Trail. At first nothing truly noteworthy showed, despite all fifteen birders scanning every tree and bush. But on the way back things began to pick up. First an azure male Bluebird with a large treat clenched in his beak appeared. Then a female arrived, and it became quite apparent that they were mates. The male snuggled close to her and presented her his food offering. They were a perfect little couple.
Our third stop was the Deli Fields, a combination of forest, river, stony clearings and thick fields, complete with a boat launch. Highlights there were: Belted Kingfisher, a rather wet, disgruntled looking Bald Eagle in the last stages of teenagehood, and the pièce de résistance: a wonderful Eastern Screech-Owl, peering from his roost-hole like a tiny feathered gnome. It was a life bird for one of the trip participants.
Our final stop was one last pass by Haven Road, where we picked up Tree Swallow and Green-winged Teal. Just as I closed the car door to head home, the cloudy sky finally let loose its store of rain. The final count was thirty-four species. Despite the cold and damp conditions, a wonderful time was had by all, proving the point: if you're gonna go birding, go birding, and let the weatherman fuss with the weather!
Kathy Schneider, NYSOA VP & field trip organizer, wrote this report on the Jefferson County Bird Workshop & Field Trip held Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26, 2013 (photo by Carena Pooth):
Chaumont Barrens Preserve, prairie smoke in the foreground
Young and old, expert and novice, they came from every corner of the state – the birders, that is, who spent Memorial Day weekend visiting the unique and expansive landscapes of Jefferson County. The weekend began on Saturday afternoon at Thompson Park in Watertown. There we gathered in a the classroom of the New York State Zoo to hear Jeff Bolsinger, a professional migratory bird biologist, share his expertise on the habitats and biology of the birds of Jefferson County. Jeff highlighted his research on Golden-winged Warblers and their hybrids with Blue-winged Warblers, and shared beautiful and illustrative pictures of the birds of mixed heritage.
That evening, after a sumptuous repast at "Pete's Trattoria," many of us traveled to Limerick Cedars, a nearby Nature Conservancy preserve. There we took in a beautiful sunset and listened to the vocalizations of both Eastern Whip-poor-wills and American Woodcocks.
The Sunday morning field trip dawned partly cloudy and breezy. We got an early start on our quest for Henslow's Sparrow. Jeff took us to the most recently occupied sites with the best habitat – flat, expansive fields with dense grass and standing dead vegetation. But the wind kept the birds low and quiet. Though Henslow's Sparrow continued to elude us the rest of the day, our tour of Jefferson County produced many great birds including killer looks at some species that are uncommon in other parts of the state. The expansive grasslands at Ashland Flats produced spectacular views of adult Northern Harriers hunting low over the fields. At Perch River, Black Terns foraged over the marsh and there were great, in-flight looks at Black-crowned Night-Heron and American Bittern. At Chaumont Barrens (see photo) the prairie smoke and yellow lady's slipper were in full bloom, and a cooperative male "mostly" Golden-winged Warbler sang his heart out from the top of a tree. For me the opportunity to see even common birds in these beautiful, large, undeveloped settings, and to share the experience with people who love birds as much as I do, more than made up for any individual species we might have missed. Many thanks to Jeff for sharing his knowledge, his time, and "his birds" with all of us.
Kathy Schneider, NYSOA VP & field trip organizer, wrote this report on the North Country Winter Bird Workshop & Field Trip held the weekend of January 12-13, 2013 (photo by Bill Schneider):
Unseasonably warm weather greeted the birders who traveled to Canton, New York, to participate in NYSOA's January workshop and field trip on winter bird visitors to the north county of New York State. Our big worry in setting up this trip was the potential for a major snowstorm. No one expected two days of temperatures in the 50s and thick fog!
On Saturday afternoon, Adirondack bird expert and NYSOA board member Joan Collins gave a presentation entitled Winter Bird Visitors of Northern New York. Joan's informative talk explained how northern New York provides a winter home for bird populations that breed in boreal habitats to our north and west. These birds come in search of food. Some move south every winter while others irrupt regularly or irregularly depending on the food supply. Joan's talk used pictures and recordings of vocalizations to help us find and learn to recognize nineteen uncommon species. Her talk was peppered with fascinating observations and interesting tidbits. For example, did you know that:
Kathy Schneider, NYSOA VP & field trip organizer, wrote this report on the Boreal Bird Workshop & Whiteface Mountain Field Trip held the weekend of July 7-8, 2012 (photo by Bill Schneider):
The New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) held a boreal bird workshop and field trip this weekend in the Adirondacks. Wendy and Steve Hall at the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center in Wilmington hosted the workshop, given by John and Pat Thaxton. The Thaxtons showed slides of a variety of boreal specialists, reviewed their field marks and vocalizations, and discussed their distribution and status. They also presented little known facts about their natural history. Special thanks to Wendy and Steve for the surprise hors d'oeuvres.
On Sunday, the Thaxton team led a field trip to Whiteface Mountain, Bigelow Road, Bloomingdale Road and Paul Smith's. The weather was spectacular, the bugs were few and the birding camaraderie was palpable. Seventeen birders from all over New York State and two from Massachusetts participated in this event and were rewarded with long looks at a very cooperative Bicknell's Thrush that sat on an exposed perch for several minutes near the hairpin turn on Whiteface. Other noteworthy species from this tour of Adirondack birding hotspots included: Osprey, Chimney Swift, Belted Kingfisher, Gray Jays with young at a feeder, Common Raven, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Blue-headed Vireo, Nashville Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Dark-eyed Juncos with young. NYSOA would like to publicly thank the Thaxtons for sharing their time and expertise and for making this exciting trip possible.
Willie D'Anna wrote this report on the Niagara River Gull ID Workshop & Field Trip held the weekend of January 7-8, 2012:
The New York State Ornithological Association (NYSOA) held gull workshop and field trip events this weekend. The workshop, given by Jean Iron of Toronto in Niagara Falls, Ontario on Saturday, was free and open to anyone. Jean discussed and showed slides of the different plumages of all of the gull species that have occurred on the Niagara River (19 species) and in Ontario (two additional species). The talk was very well received by a large gathering of birders from all over New York and Ontario.
On Sunday, I led the field trip along the Niagara River, with much appreciated assistance from Jean Iron, Ron Pittaway, and Betsy Potter. The trip was only open to members of NYSOA and included some 30 participants. In order to help learn the ID points from Jean's talk the day before, assignments were given to find as many different ages of Herring Gull (all four were found), Great Black-backed Gull (three were found), and Bonaparte's Gull (both were found). Of course, it was not all work and we found a lot of great birds on the day, a few of which were lifers for several attendees. We started at the Adam Beck overlook at the power plants and, right off the bat, an adult THAYER'S GULL was found perched on the NY shoreline. There were also several ICELAND GULLS here and more above the falls. An adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL flew around in front of the power dam for us; a few more were seen above the falls. The boat ramp in lower Queenston produced at least three adult LITTLE GULLS, which everyone got to see in their scopes (looking downriver). While looking for the Little Gulls, someone spotted two BLACK VULTURES flapping and soaring over the trees on the NY side.
Above the falls, we found a second winter GLAUCOUS GULL on the large rock island below the control gates. An adult GLAUCOUS GULL on the same island was only seen by the leader and one other. An adult Iceland/Thayer's Gull on the breakwall exhibited a lot of black in the wingtips but was fairly clean-headed and small-billed – we let that one go unidentified. We had heard a report of an adult male Barrow's Goldeneye near where the creek flows into the river across from Dufferin Islands but we only saw Common Goldeneyes there. However, we did see a female HARLEQUIN DUCK halfway across. There have been up to four Harlequin Ducks that like to sit on or near a small rock island that has two scrubby trees on it, located along the ridge that extends across the river. This is a hundred yards or so upriver from the stranded barge.
Next, we made the long trek to the Buffalo waterfront, where there has been an impressive collection of Bonaparte's Gulls in a relatively small area. We were off to a great start there in that we did not lose anyone along the way! An adult BALD EAGLE greeted our group shortly after arriving with a nice flyover. We checked over the small gulls in the marina through the fence from Hertel Avenue, then moved over to the north end of Squaw Island in order to get the sun behind us. Two highlights here were great looks at a first winter LITTLE GULL and a first year BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE, both birds initially picked out by Dave Gordon at a distance. The incredible assemblage of small gulls here, many of them quite close, provides a very special experience, even for veteran river rats. Whether it's watching the swirling mass of Bonaparte's Gulls as they practice evasive maneuvers or to see them diving for the super-abundant minnows, half a dozen or more hitting the water at once and looking like miniature Gannets, it was both beautiful and fascinating. After this, the remnants of the group made one last stop at the tower at Erie Basin Marina, where the long-staying SNOWY OWL was finally seen at a great distance on rocks behind the coast guard station.
For the day we had 10 species of gulls and lots of individuals to study. The number of gulls here is still very high, both large gulls and Bonaparte's Gulls. Keep in mind that this varies. Weekdays seem to be poorer for large gulls (although Mondays may be an exception), presumably due to the dumps drawing them away. We were very fortunate with the weather, which could not have been better – I heard not a single complaint about being cold.
I would like to extend a big thank-you to NYSOA and Kathy Schneider, who did such a great job organizing the weekend. Kayo Roy deserves special mention for helping with the lodging, as well as finding the venue for Jean Iron's gull workshop (the Niagara Falls Library). Jean put together a wonderful program and was especially helpful on the field trip. The participants were a great group coming from as far away as Long Island and Vermont, eager to learn about this challenging group of birds.
Montezuma Shorebird Weekend - September 17-18, 2011
The New York State Ornithological Association offered a shorebird identification workshop and field trip the weekend of September 17-18, 2011. Dr. Kevin McGowan, former NYSOA president and co-editor of The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, conducted the shorebird workshop and led the field trip to the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, one of the state’s most important inland shorebird stopover sites. The workshop, free and open to the public, was attended by 50 people and 16 participated in the field trip, which was a NYSOA members-only event.
Many thanks to Kevin for volunteering his time, expertise, and wit to make the workshop and field trips enjoyable and highly successful!
Joan Collins posted this report on the Adirondack Warbler Workshop & Massawepie Mire Field Trip that she led on May 28, 2011:
Massawepie Mire, Southeastern St. Lawrence Co., overcast with occasional brief showers
Ten people took part in the NYS Ornithological Association’s field trip to Massawepie Mire on Saturday. With all the recent rain deluges, the road in was washed out in places (but still traversable) and the dirt road we hiked into the mire was wetter than I have ever seen it. It was so wet that Mallards were making use of the vernal pools! Mosquitoes were intense in the warm, humid conditions. The few times that the sun broke out, the mosquitoes died down and black flies came out!
One of the things that I most enjoy about birding is finding unexpected species – we found 2 on Saturday. Just before we went out into the open bog, I heard a Brown Thrasher! It was perched in the middle of the bog. As we approached it, two Grays Jays flew off – it appeared they had been harassing the thrasher. I continued to hear the Brown Thrasher’s loud vocalizations during our traverse of the huge bog. On our hike out, just before the first bridge, I hung back from the group a bit to listen for Black-backed Woodpeckers (the last likely spot on our hike out) and instead, I heard a Field Sparrow sing in mature boreal habitat! I caught up with everyone at the bridge and asked if anyone lives among Field Sparrows and when they had returned. I was told quite some time ago, so this bird was not likely a migrant. As it turns out, I received a phone call from Sean O’Brien yesterday to tell me he had visited Massawepie Mire on Monday with Ted Mack and they too found a singing Field Sparrow! (They found the bird in the same vicinity.) He also called Larry Master who told Sean that a Field Sparrow once spent an entire season at Bloomingdale Bog. It will be interesting to see if this Field Sparrow spends the breeding season at Massawepie Mire.
We found 58 species, including 16 warbler species and 7 sparrow species. Northern Waterthrushes can be found in an area with many Canada Warblers, but were not singing by the time our group reached that location. Pine Warblers can sometimes be found on the hike, but can definitely be found along the Mountaineer Trail, which we did not hike. I heard 5 singing Mourning Warblers, and there are even more found by continuing to drive straight at the 4 corners location for ~ 1.5 miles to a metal gate – an area that has been heavily logged. We did not have time to drive this section. That area also has many Indigo Buntings and a Veery. Eastern Phoebes were missing from the bridge locations, and this is the first year we failed to find a Gray Catbird near our parking location. Logging operations continue on the perimeter of the bog.
Here are some of the 58 species found:
Spruce Grouse – 1 male! On our hike out, Mike Greco yelled that he saw a Spruce Grouse. We looked up and the grouse flew up from the dirt road into a tree, then dropped back down onto the road and walked straight toward us! It got within 15 feet (we didn’t need binocs) and then tried to go around us by going into the brushy habitat along the road. We were all still as statues as the grouse approached us. Instead of continuing past us, it paralleled us as we continue our hike out. This was certainly a birding highlight of my year!
The cone crop developing on the spruces is quite remarkable!
Eight in our group had a late lunch at the “Thirsty Moose Pub & Grub” a short distance from Massawepie.
Hope Batcheller, a Youth Member and the original initiator of NYSOA's New York State Young Birders Club (NYSYBC), wrote this summary of the NYSOA/NYSYBC Pelagic Bird ID Workshop & Field Trip held the weekend of February 12-13, 2011:
The pelagic bird identification workshop held on 12 February was probably the most useful identification workshop I've ever attended. Angus Wilson had many useful suggestions for identifying alcids and other seabirds, which were very relevant to the later pelagic. Although the pelagic was not held the following day (postponed due to weather), we had an excellent trip to Montauk and coastal Long Island. My personal highlights for that day were the flock of Purple Sandpipers and seeing several King Eiders, among other uncommon species. The pelagic in March was my first winter pelagic, and I loved the experience. Pelagic birding is so different from any other type, and is something young birders rarely get the opportunity to do. In addition to the bird life, it was a great opportunity to network with other more experienced birders, and I'd highly recommend this trip to other young birders.
Bill Lee filed
this report on the Whiskey Hollow Field
Trip - May 24-25, 2003:
Bill Lee reports
on the Cape Ann and Plum Island Field
Trip - February 15-17, 2003:
On Saturday, we birded Newburyport Harbor, the Parker River NWR and Plum Island and Salisbury Beach State Park. Highlights included Great Cormorant; Wilson's Snipe (sitting on a chunk of ice against a bulkhead in Newburyport Harbor looking miserable and, no doubt,wishing it had gone South for the Winter); Iceland Gull; an adult—and given its small size, male—Snowy Owl fairly close in the Plum Island salt marsh; a Clay-colored Sparrow; and at Salisbury, just feet from the road to the boat launch, a Long-eared Owl very visible in the late afternoon sun.
On Sunday, we set out for Cape Ann on an even colder morning with robust Northwest winds. Fortunately, except for our first stop on the northwest side of the Cape in an unsucessful quest for a drake King Eider, we were able to bird the leeward side of the Cape and usually windswept places like Halibut and Andrew's Points were calm and pleasant. Highlights of the day's birding were Hermit Thrush, numerous Harlequin Ducks, all three Scoters, Purple Sandpiper, two Black Guillemots, Red-throated Loon, and Red-necked Grebe. A visit to the Merrimac River at the Chain Bridge did not produce the Barrow's Goldeneye I often see there, but several vocal Bald Eagles which took flight from the trees above our heads,were a great end to the day.
Monday morning, snow started shortly after 8:00 a.m. and a "white knuckled" drive home over snow packed roads with numerous accidents and "spin-outs," despite much reduced speed limits on the Mass. Pike and Thruway, left me feeling as if I had really earned every "good" bird of the weekend.
Here is Bill Lee's
report on the Hudson Canyon Pelagic
Field Trip - December 7, 2002:
Seen at Barnegat Light State Park, on Friday afternoon before the boat trip, were Great Cormorant, Harlequin Ducks, Purple Sandpipers, Sanderling, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstones, Long-tailed Ducks, and Savannah (Ipswich) Sparrow. All but the Great Cormorant were seen again on Sunday morning.
Here is Bill Lee's
report on the Niagara River Field
Trip - November 22-24, 2002:
Binnie Chase, a trip
participant, provided her own version of the same Niagara
Since the weather had changed we decided we would go directly to Niagara Falls, Ontario without any more stops. We arrived at 6 PM in snow and a howling wind. We had great accommodations at The Days Inn Near the Falls. Restaurants were right next door. Saturday we carpooled and met other birders that had not driven out with us. A few were unable to meet us because of the snow. The weather was now clear and the roads dry. We birded out to Fort Erie, back to the falls, Whirlpool and Power Plant. Also drove to Niagara on the Lake. Sunday we birded Niagara on the Lake and went to the American side to search for the lone Cave Swallow among the Rough-winged Swallows. No luck. We had nine species of Gulls on the trip—Bonaparte's, Little, Ring-billed, California, Herring, Iceland, Lesser Black-backed, Great Black-backed, and a Black-legged Kittiwake. A total of fifty-five species were seen on this trip. We counted over thirty Red-tailed Hawks as we crossed the state. We had good looks at Horned and Red-necked Grebes, Surf Scoter, Hooded, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, and Bufflehead to name a few. A delicious dinner was enjoyed Saturday evening in the Tower's revolving dinning room. Bill led a great trip and we hope that more of you can join us on the next trip to Niagara. Everyone should go once. Thanks Bill, you are terrific.
Here is Bill Lee's
report on Federation trip to Spring
Pond Bog in the Adirondacks for Spruce Grouse
and Bicknell's Thrush June 1-2, 2002:
A Federation field trip to Niagara
Falls December 1 to 3, 2000 was a joint trip
with the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club and was led by Bill
Saturday-Sunday, June 3-4, 2000 Adirondack
Weekend: Whiteface Mountain and Massawepee