This past week has seen a massive influx of migrants to the Finger Lakes region of NY state. Perhaps my favorite arrival was the Wood Thrush, which although common, has a wonderful flute-like voice that contributes so much to the experience of the wooded landscape of the region. It greeted me at about 5am last Friday morning, with its song coming in through my bedroom window.
Also pleasant, yet expected, were the arrivals of Orioles, Mockingbirds, and warblers.
Among the warblers, the highlight was the uncommon Cerulean Warbler, which may be making a comeback in the region. In recent years, successful breeding of these birds has been confined to one location in the Cayuga Lake basin (and I think all of NY state) to the Salmon Creek floodplain. Signing males have been heard early in the season, though, in some raparian cottonwoods of the area in some years, and there are reports that Ceruleans used to breed in some of these areas back in the 1960’s.
Last week, for three days straight (at least), local birders reported hearing/seeing at least one in the “jetty woods” along the inlet to the Southern edge of Cayuga Lake. Hopefully it will meet with some success, and find a mate.
Other warblers were all over the place, with a stop at the Lindsey-Parsons biodiversity preserve (run by the Finger Lakes Land Trust), revealing Yellows, Chesnut-sideds, Prairies, Black-and-whites, a Northern Waterthrush, Yellowthroats, and a spectacular view of an Ovenbird in full song. Non-warbler sitings of interest included an Indigo Bunting, White-crowned sparrows taking a break from migration, a probable Least Flycatcher, and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets.
And a Sunday walk with my dad down in PA yielded some other surprises: Thrashers, Eastern Towee, Bobolink, and my first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird of the year.
But the last exciting bird note of the week was discovery by local birders of nesting Merlin in the middle of residential Ithaca. This is new, because Merlins usually breed and nest in Canada’s boreal region, very infrequently nesting this far South.
Word of the Merlins has gotten around the Ithaca listserv, and I managed to stop by for another attempt at holding my digital camera up to my binoculars for a very blurry image (of the female). I didn’t see the male while I was there, but the female seemed to be treating the tree she was in as home, vocalizing occaisionally and preening comfortably.