We held the 2nd annual Schoolhouse Pond Big Sit yesterday at the
observation platform at the rear of the pond. The Marlboro Flaming County
Seaters consisted of 16 observers during the day, with some birders present
from 6:30 AM until almost 7 PM. Overall, it was a good day with spectacular
weather, but there were some very notable misses. The total number of
species ended up being 65, which was one higher than our total in 2006. The
morning was fairly active, but the afternoon was very slow.
Highlights included large numbers of flyover gulls, including 1 Bonaparte's Gull.
Raptors included a beautiful juvenile Northern Harrier, two Bald Eagles, several
Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks, good views a several Red-shouldered
Hawks, two Red-tailed Hawks, both vultures, and a late Osprey. The first
Shovelers of the season were prsent at the pond. Huge flocks of starlings,
Red-winged Blackbirds, and Common Grackles passed overhead and one Rusty
Blackbird was heard. Other highlights included a late flyover Sapsucker and
the arrival of three Spotted Sandpipers just as I was calling it a day and
packing up my gear, bringing our total to 65. Also a nice find was the Wilson's
Snipe which Jeff Shenot saw flying into the vegetation along the pond's edge.
Other birds seen at or over the pond included a group of high Double-crested
Cormorants, several Wood Ducks, Great Egret, all three mimics, two small
groups of Tree Swallows, a small group of Barn Swallows, a small group of
Eastern Bluebirds, and Trumpeter Swan #962.
Notable misses included warblers, both kinglets, towhee, and most migrant
passerines. Warbler species included only Common Yellowthroat and Yellow-
rumped. We did much better in this area last year. Perhaps most noticable
was the almost complete absense of birds working the trees at the rear of the
pond. This tree line was busy off and on all day last year, and usually there
are at least Chickadees, Titmice, Cardinals, and woodpeckers foraging or
chipping in the trees. But, yesterday the woods were largely silent and no
mixed-species flocks moved through.
I should note that I had both Kinglets this morning (10/15). Yesterday's
results make me think that due to the pond's good sight lines for flyover birds,
the attraction of the water and wetland habitat, and suitable woodland and
edge habitat near the observation platform, the Flaming County Seaters have
much better days ahead if yesterday's spectacular conditions coincide with
even a moderate push of migrant passerines. If we had tallied the kinglets
and had even an average fall day for warblers, the species total could have
been well over 70.
It was a fun day with spectacular weather, and a lot of birders were able to
come out for most of the day or a few hours. With two fairly successful sits
under our belt, I look forward to what the Flaming County Seaters see next