A Travellerspoint blog

July 2022

Chautauqua Ramblings

Chautauqua, NY

semi-overcast 79 °F

Recently, I dedicated two separate half-days to birding (and a touch of herping as per usual).

A few weeks ago I walked one of my usual circuits outside of the Chautauqua grounds and found a few common birds like EASTERN KINGBIRD:
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GRAY CATBIRD:
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Immature EASTERN BLUEBIRD:
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The nearby golf course had a lot of other animals including this black Eastern Gray Squirrel:
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Groundhog, which are exceptionally common around here:
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And a creepy-looking fox replica, reminding me I must finish memorizing my role in the opera, The Cunning Little Vixen!
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American Bullfrog, distinguished from the similar Green Frog by the lack of dorsolateral folds:
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On the way back from the golf course I discovered an unsettling sight: a swath of a woodland patch had been freshly bulldozed with a fawn White-tailed Deer was present, mourning the loss of its home. As I grow older, I like humans less and less and all other animals more and more.
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Everybody’s gotta go!
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Further evidence of the devastation of vital habitat was this Raccoon mama and pup walking up a rivulet that traverses the bulldozed area. Even the smallest patches of woodland, wetland, and other natural areas are crucial to the survival of native species and provide needed areas of refuge for our resident fauna.
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It was a nice outing nevertheless. When I was back I wanted to test out the macro-photography abilities of my iPhone and was decently satisfied with this photograph of an Attulus-genus jumping spider sp. Kind of cute.
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So, my next outing was yesterday with a new friend, Alejandra L, who is a local breeding bird atlas surveyor. She graciously allowed me to tag along on one of her surveys on the other side of Lake Chautauqua and picked me up at 5:30am outside the Chautauqua gate. The pre-sunrise on the way was beautiful:
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Once we arrived at our survey area, a rural area with interspersed ravines, woodlands, pasture, and agricultural fields, we quickly began birding after a quick bug-spray and almost immediately found evidence of breeding birds. Our first piece of evidence came in the form of this juvenile COMMON YELLOWTHROAT:
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Which was fed by a parent. Evidence of breeding includes: copulation, feeding juveniles, juvenile/immature birds present, carrying nesting material or food, and observing a nest, among other things. Birds singing on territory or pairs defending a territory suggests, but does not confirm breeding — so the goal for these surveys is specific in that specifically confirming the breeding of as many species as possible is paramount. Alejandra has managed to confirm over 100 species breeding in her New York atlas blocks so far this summer which is quite a feat, accomplished only by many diligent field hours.
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Great to see this clean LEAST FLYCATCHER:
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FIELD SPARROW:
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Male DARK-EYED JUNCO — so interesting to me these are a breeding species locally!
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And an ALDER FLYCATCHER, confirmed by its singing! Another species I love to see on its breeding grounds as these don’t breed anywhere near Chicago or NY.
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KILLDEER:
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GRAY CATBIRD — breeding confirmed by carrying food:
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And breeding confirmed for RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD with this immature:
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Male EASTERN TOWHEE:
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AMERICAN GOLDFINCH:
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SONG SPARROW with a photobomber, can you identify the intruder?
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Good job! Nonbreeding CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER!
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And thankfully there was a kind man named Jim who let us onto his awesome property that included a grassland with BOBOLINKS, including a few juveniles — meaning breeding confirmed for this uncommon and local species! Super cool!!
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On the way out I found a carpet that seemed to be matted down specifically for snakes, and lo and behold, underneath there was a total of FIFTEEN snakes — DeKay’s Brown and many Common Garters, as are pictured here:
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And a link to a quick youtube video of the two of us reveling in our serpentine finds:
https://youtu.be/ybDylimuCtY

Absolutely awesome! Definitely the highlight of both of days, despite seeing some great birds. It was a record flip for the both of us, and Alejandra has done her fair share of herping, too!

Male RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD:
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BARN SWALLOWS:
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An Immature PURPLE FINCH, another wonderful more northerly-oriented species to confirm for the breeding bird atlas!
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CEDAR WAXWING:
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EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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A fantastic morning of summer birding thanks to a wonderful new friend, Alejandra! Meeting other great people in this field certainly gives me hope for humanity even after seeing habitat torn up like that which I was bemoaning earlier.

Bird-of-the-day to the Bobolinks with runner-up to an unphotographed BLUE-WINGED WARBLER observed at the end of the walk. A very solid 62 species for the morning, decent for mid-July! Stay tuned — Alejandra and I hope to bird together once more before my time here in Chautauqua ends on August 13.

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1138 Species

Posted by skwclar 00:21 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Hiking around Chautauqua

Chautauqua, NY

semi-overcast 79 °F

Yesterday I set out on a long loop hike which took me through the Chautauqua Institution, the golf course, the woods, up by an cell tower, and back. I saw a good amount of wildlife despite venturing out in the heat of the afternoon and managed to amazingly only pick up a single tick! Was expecting more due to the thick habitat I traversed.

There was one of the resident MERLINS waiting for me right outside of the dormitory — awesome that they nest around here:
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I then headed to one of the nearby Ravines which is known to have Slimy & Red-backed Salamanders, and within a few flips, I had this lead-backed phase of an Eastern Red-backed Salamander. This phase is more common than the red phase around here, I think, though both can be found.
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As well as a tiny little Northern Slimy Salamander which I was happy to photograph since the two I had here last summer got away from me!
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There were plenty of CANADA GEESE groups out on the golf course, as to be expected.
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And a fawn in the woods with parents nearby:
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An adult and a juvenile female HAIRY WOODPECKER, as evidenced by her incessant begging:
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And its smaller cousin, the DOWNY:
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At a tiny seep in the woods I managed to find a Dusky (Desmog) Salamander sp and I have it narrowed down to Northern or Allegheny Mountain Dusky. The former would be more likely as the latter tend to have scalloped back patterning, but both species can be extremely variable. Anybody on here have insight into Desmog salamander ID? Niche, I know.
EDIT: This is a Northern Dusky, thanks to Simon for the ID due to its laterally-compressed tail shape.
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There were plenty of Green Frogs around in weird places today. I think it’s been a drought around here so these frogs are searching for even the tiniest possible wet patches in which to reside. I hope it starts raining more for these poor amphibians — even the Dusky Salamander was found in the smallest of seeps.
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The resident pair of OSPREY at the nearby cell tower was there, as usual:
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As well as a SONG SPARROW carrying food:
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The most frustrating event of the day happened when I lifted a piece of cover and my lifer Red-bellied Snake escaped into the tall grasses before I could catch it for photos. Dang! This has been a species that has constantly eluded me so to have one escape like this slightly soured the mood for the day.

Anyway, it was still a great hike with bird-of-the-day going to the Merlin and runner-up to the Ospreys! Raptors sweep the awards!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 1138 Species

Posted by skwclar 18:02 Archived in USA Comments (1)

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